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Disclaimer: I am already Jewish. This question for curiousity only. Obviously it is always the best idea to convert to Judaism with a proper, official beit din.


Three Jewish males over the age of bar mitzvah constitute a beit din, and we know that in order for a non-Jew to convert they need to be converted by a beit din.

My question is, theoretically, could a non-Jew convert to Judaism under the direction of three Jewish men, as long as these men were upright, Torah observant Jews? Or is there some process in which batei dinim need to be initiated somehow?

Assuming a non-Jew converted with such a "un-official" beit din, along with the official acceptance of the mitzvot, brit milah, and immersion in a mikvah, would they be considered a full convert?

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Rambam, Issurei Biah - Chapter Thirteen, 16-17:

16

Solomon converted women and married them and similarly, Samson converted [women] and married [them]. It is well known that they converted only because of an ulterior motive and that their conversion was not under the guidance of the court. Hence the Tanach40 considered it as if they were gentiles and remained forbidden. Moreover, their conduct ultimately revealed their initial intent. For they would worship their false deities and build platforms for them. Therefore the Scriptures considered it as if [Solomon] built them, as [I Kings 11:7] states: "And then, Solomon built a platform."

טז

ולפי שגייר שלמה נשים ונשאן וכן שמשון גייר ונשא והדבר ידוע שלא חזרו אלו אלא בשביל דבר ולא על פי ב"ד גיירום חשבן הכתוב כאילו הן עכו"ם ובאיסורן עומדין ועוד שהוכיח סופן על תחלתן שהן עובדות כו"ם שלהן ובנו להן במות והעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו הוא בנאן שנאמר אז יבנה שלמה במה: ‏

When a court did not check a [potential] converts background and did not inform him of the mitzvot41 and the punishment for [the failure to observe] the mitzvot and he circumcised himself and immersed in the presence of three ordinary people, he is a convert. Even if it is discovered that he converted for an ulterior motive, since he circumcised himself and converted, he has departed from the category of gentiles and we view him with skepticism until his righteousness is revealed.

17

Even if afterwards, [the convert] worships false deities, he is like an apostate Jew. [If he] consecrates [a woman,] the consecration is valid, and it is a mitzvah to return his lost object. For since he immersed himself he became a Jew. For this reason,Samson and Solomon maintained their wives even though their inner feeling were revealed.

יז

גר שלא בדקו אחריו או שלא הודיעוהו המצות ועונשן ומל וטבל בפני ג' הדיוטות ה"ז גר אפילו נודע שבשביל דבר הוא מתגייר הואיל ומל וטבל יצא מכלל העכו"ם וחוששין לו עד שיתבאר צדקותו ואפילו חזר ועבד כו"ם הרי הוא כישראל מומר שקידושיו קידושין ומצוה להחזיר אבידתו מאחר שטבל נעשה כישראל ולפיכך קיימו שמשון ושלמה נשותיהן ואע"פ שנגלה סודן: ‏

Yes someone who convert without Rabbi is actually converted but this is not a good practice.

Shulchan Aruch Yore Dea 268, 12:

יב כְּשֶׁבָּא הַגֵּר לְהִתְגַּיֵּר, בּוֹדְקִים אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא בִּגְלַל מָמוֹן שֶׁיִּטֹּל אוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל (טז) שְׂרָרָה שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה לָהּ אוֹ מִפְּנֵי הַפַּחַד בָּא לִכָּנֵס לַדָּת. וְאִם אִישׁ הוּא, בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא עֵינָיו נָתַן בְּאִשָּׁה יְהוּדִית. וְאִם אִשָּׁה הִיא, בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרֶיהָ שֶׁמָּא עֵינֶיהָ נָתְנָה בְּבַחוּרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאִם לֹא נִמְצֵאת לָהֶם עִלָּה מוֹדִיעִים לָהֶם כֹּבֶד עֹל הַתּוֹרָה וְטֹרַח שֶׁיֵּשׁ בַּעֲשִׂיָּתָהּ עַל עַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּפְרְשׁוּ. אִם קִבְּלוּ וְלֹא פֵּרְשׁוּ, וְרָאוּ אוֹתָם שֶׁחָזְרוּ מֵאַהֲבָה, מְקַבְּלִים אוֹתָם. וְאִם לֹא בָּדְקוּ אַחֲרָיו, אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדִיעוּהוּ שְׂכַר הַמִּצְוֹת וְעָנְשָׁן, וּמָל וְטָבַל בִּפְנֵי ג' הֶדְיוֹטוֹת, הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּר אֲפִלּוּ נוֹדַע שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר הוּא מִתְגַּיֵּר, הוֹאִיל וּמָל וְטָבַל יָצָא מִכְּלַל הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים, וְחוֹשְׁשִׁים לוֹ עַד שֶׁתִּתְבָּרֵר צִדְקָתוֹ; וַאֲפִלּוּ חָזַר וְעָבַד עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים, הֲרֵי הוּא כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל מוּמָר שֶׁקִּדּוּשָׁיו קִדּוּשִׁין. יִשְׂרָאֵל מוּמָר שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, אֵין צָרִיךְ לִטְבֹּל; רַק מִדְּרַבָּנָן יֵשׁ לוֹ לִטְבֹּל וּלְקַבֵּל עָלָיו דִּבְרֵי חֲבֵרוּת בִּפְנֵי ג' (נ''י פ' הַחוֹלֵץ) . ‏

Translation of the bold characters: If the Beth Din did not examine him, or did not explain him praise and punishment of Mitsvot, but he did circumcise and immerse himself, and did circumcision and immersion in front of a tribunal of non specialists, he already is Jewish and ... even if he come back to idolatry he is considered as a Jew who changed religion and remains a Jew.

The problem is that a Bet din of non-sages is not able to decide if it is right to convert this person, and perhaps did not explain the essence of Jewish being.

What is the right behaviour whith such a convert: "חוששין לו עד שתתברר צדקתו" said the Shulchan Aruch, you are not sure that he is Shomer Mitsvot.

But clearly to convert with Beth Din of non-sages is not advised. The rule explained above is for BediAvad situations.

  • Fixed I hope @Rish – kouty Jan 23 at 13:01

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