When I was looking through the sources for conversion from Sepharadi posek's I noticed a distinct lack of any mention of discouraging converts. As I kept searching I found Sephardic Rabbis saying what sounded like the exact opposite, that one should ensure that they don't reject converts at all.

Chacham Ovadia Yosef, former chief Rabbi of Israel.

"But we must not push off converts too much. It is not right to cause them pain by rejecting them."

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Yosef-Conversion-Courts-are-too-stringent

So where does this idea that Jewish law requires rejecting converts? I haven't found it in the Shulchan Arukh, nor in the Mishneh Torah. Someone told me to look up Yevamot and when I did the English translation seems to also say the exact opposite.

"And they do not overwhelm him with threats, and they are not exacting with him about the details of the mitzvot, i.e., the court should not overly dissuade the convert from converting. Rabbi Elazar said: What is the verse from which this ruling is derived? As it is written: “And when she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left off speaking with her” (Ruth 1:18). "

Source: https://www.sefaria.org/Yevamot.47b.7?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

So where is the source that Jewish law requires that a Jewish convert be discouraged, or discouraged up to 3 times.

  • 2
    You think "not dissuade too much" and "dissuade 3 times" are exact opposites?? They're basically the same.
    – Double AA
    Mar 15, 2018 at 21:35
  • @DoubleAA In my experience I haven't run across a Sepharadi Rab who has dissuaded even once.
    – Aaron
    Mar 15, 2018 at 21:41
  • 4
    Rabbi Yosef also says "too much" in your quote. –1, this question answers itself.
    – msh210
    Mar 15, 2018 at 22:19
  • 2
    If you're asking for a source in Rambam, Tur, or Shulchan Aruch only then your question should say so. No need to comment here.
    – msh210
    Mar 15, 2018 at 23:28
  • 2
    Your post already cites Jewish legal sources implying we discourage converts. Your last sentence doesn't mention more-specific sources sought.
    – msh210
    Mar 16, 2018 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


The source for discouraging a convert 3 times is found in the story of Ruth, as explained in the Medrash Rus Rabbah 2:16

שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לֵכְנָה (רות א, יב), רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי יוּדָן בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא, בְּשָׁלשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת כְּתִיב כָּאן (רות א, ח): שֹׁבְנָה, (רות א, יא): שֹׁבְנָה, (רות א, יב): שֹׁבְנָה, כְּנֶגֶד שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים שֶׁדּוֹחִין אֶת הַגֵּר, וְאִם הִטְרִיחַ יוֹתֵר מִכָּאן מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתוֹ. אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק (איוב לא, לב): בַּחוּץ לֹא יָלִין גֵּר, לְעוֹלָם יְהֵא אָדָם דּוֹחֶה בִּשְׂמֹאל וּמְקָרֵב בִּימִין.

"Return, my daughters, go" (Ruth 1:12) Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani in the name of Rabbi Yudin son of Rabbi Chanina [explains]: In three places it is written here "return" "return" "return" [verses 1:8, 1:11, 1:12] corresponding to the three times we push away a [potential] convert. And if he bothers [trying to convert] longer than that we accept him. Rabbi Yitzchak said "A convert should not stay over outside" (Job 31:32): [this teaches that] A person should always push away with his left and bring closer with his right.

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