As I understand a "Ger Tzedek/Tzadik" is a fully converted follower of the Torah of Moshe. According to Hilchot Melachim 10:3-4, a "Ger Tzedek" is defined as someone who has confirmed their conversion (out of a sincere and deep conviction in the truth of the Jewish religion, without any other motivation whatever). Later on (in verse 12), we see that a "Ger Tzedek" must non-selectively accept all of the mitzvot of the Torah of Moshe. The convert who accepts the responsibility to fulfill the mitzvos – the Torah’s path of tzedek – is therefore called a ger tzedek. It is this commitment which enables the convert to become a member of Israel – the people of the Covenant. Just as all Israel became the people of the Covenant by proclaiming at Mount Sinai: 'Everything that Hashem has spoken, we will do and we will hear' (Exodus 24:7), so too, the convert joins the people by making a similar commitment (like Ruth). Our tradition finds a reference to this idea in the following Divine statement: 'The convert who dwells with you shall be like a native among you' (Leviticus 19:34). According to the tradition, these words are revealing the following guideline which the rabbinical court that accepts the convert must follow: 'Just as the native Israelite accepted all the words of the Torah, so does the convert. (Toras Kohanim)'

But what i would like to know is how this term 'Ger Tzedek' came to exist: what are it's earliest sources? and can it be literally found in the Tenach?

3 Answers 3


Here's an interesting article on this subject.

In short, the term ger tzedek is only used in a small fraction of the gemara when speaking about converts. In most cases, even when "full converts" are spoken of, the simple title ger is used. The term ger tzedek was introduced in order to emphasize the differences between a full convert, and a ger toshav who is only obligated to the Seven Laws of Noah.

Examples where this differentiation is required (more in the article):

  • Gittin 57b:

    תנא: נעמן גר תושב היה, נבוזראדן גר צדק היה

  • Yevamot 48b:

    כשהוא אומר "וגרך אשר בשעריך" - הרי גר צדק אמור, הא מה אני מקיים "והגר"? - זה גר תושב

The reason for the specific choice of tzedek is also discussed there, mainly since the word tzedek appears many times in the bible referencing the Torah, the Shechina, etc.

  • 1
    The question seeks the earliest use of the term and also how it came to exist. This links to an answer to the second of those questions, but doesn't answer it directly. As to the first question, this answer says the term's used in the G'mara; what tana used it earliest in the G'mara, and is that the earliest known use of the term?
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 17:15
  • The term appears in beraitot mentioned in the gemara, so I guess that could be considered the earliest references, but one would have to go over them all to determine the earliest one, or find a source mentioning it.
    – Cauthon
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 17:23
  • @levi Not response but may interest you. The word Tsedek is a reference to the motivation of the gerut. The tsedek of the G-d of Israel is the cause for Ytro (עת ידעתי כי גדול ה' מכל אלקים כי בדבר אשר זדו עליהם) The Talmud spoke about Gere Arayot (converted d/t fear from lions) and many kinds of motivation in Yevamot 24B. The conclusion is (הלכה כדברי האומר כולם גרים הם). But the right motivation is the Tsedek of the G-d, that is specific Anochi... Asher hotseticha.
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 22:00
  • Thanks for the comments so far! , @Danny Schoemann and others, if the term ger is used/applied in general, then how does one destinguish one ger from the other, what are the 'rules' or 'guidelines' to determine which ger is spoken of based on the context given in the Tenach?
    – Levi
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 10:13
  • @Levi Just as you said, they learn it from the specific contexts. For example, the one in Yevamot notices that regarding Shabbat observance, one place says "וגרך אשר בשעריך" - "your ger that is within your gates", as opposed to "והגר" which is simply "the ger". So the understood the first one to mean a ger tzedek, and the second to be a ger toshav.
    – Cauthon
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 10:18

It could be from Tannaitic literature Midrash or the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. We know for sure that the rabbis (Second Temple times) understood גר תושב (ger toshav) to mean a non-Jew who fulfills some biblical commandments while (ger she-nitgayyer) or (ger tzedek), meaning “a righteous ger," refers to a convert who underwent the practice of conversion. 


The earliest source I can find is in the Shemona Esrei we say daily

על הצדיקים ועל החסידים ועל זקני עמך בית ישראל ועל פליטת סופריהם ועל גרי-הצדק.

Interesting to note in the Selichos of the fourth day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva from Rabbeinu Gershom Meor Hagola

גר צדק הראשון לכל נציבים, בן שלש הכירך יושב כרובים.

Thanks to Daat.ac.il for this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .