I am asking about the situation about a convert-in-progress who lies at some point during the conversion process, either--more to-the-point--in response to the prefatory questions about personal circumstances, observance, and lifestyle asked by the Beis Din, or in response to the vows made (to be m'kabel ol, etc.) at the time of conversion. We learn in a few places that b'dieved, it doesn't affect the convert's status unless one can all but prove that the convert was insincere in being mkabel ol. But what if the convert merely lied in response to other questions by the beis din? I don't ask if he is still Jewish. It seems he is. I ask, was this l'chatchila a sin?

If so, on what account? -- Since I believe the person answers the questions before the tevila in most cases, it is unlikely that the person is Jewish at the time he answers. My knowledge of the mitzvos shel b'nei Noach is hardly vast, but I've never heard "be honest with batei din" among them - -although arguably it would make sense.

Do any laws govern this, then? If not, what reason would a prospective convert have to demand honesty of himself in this situation? (If there are no applicable halachos, I don't see that Yiras Shamayim strictly speaking comes in to play.)

  • The beit din is considered "like G-d"; so it would be like lying to God. – chacham Nisan Sep 13 at 8:06
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    Mitzva #7 is establishing just courts. Seemingly obeying such courts is expected and probably includes not lying to them (if they are at all just) – Double AA Sep 13 at 12:59
  • @DoubleAA Interesting but it seems hard to imagine that batei din would fall under that aegis (i.e., of courts of the land created by goyim) – SAH Sep 13 at 21:04
  • @SAH You may wish to read Joshua ch. 9 for starters :) – David Kenner Sep 14 at 7:30
  1. You're right about the lack of obligation not to lie to a BD even to the Jews (the Mitzvah is to testify, but not what to say).

  2. No BD's verdict is given "on condition" that the witnesses did not lie. The whole purpose of the BD is to [cross]-check the facts, but once the verdict is given it's final.

  3. Same with the conversion. The goal of the Dayonim is to find the truth, and once they decided on the validity of the conversion it is final.

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    1. I believe you are wrong; it is, iirc, a halacha to tell the truth to a beis din and maybe even to a single posek. They do say that there is no earthly punishment for perjury before a beis din; rather, G-d delivers the punishment. – SAH Sep 13 at 9:24
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    Re: 1 מדבר שקר תרחק? – Joel K Sep 13 at 9:41
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    @AlBerko I emphatically disagree that "no sources are needed to understand how the Jewish court works." – SAH Sep 13 at 9:47
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    As always, and you know this by now, sources would greatly improve your answer. For now it looks like your personal opinion. For instance, point 3 seems contradicted by conversions which were then retroactively annuled – mbloch Sep 13 at 11:01
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    @DonielF 1. I'm not sure לא תענה applies here - the prospective convert is not testifying per se. 2. מדבר שקר תרחק can apply to witnesses as well - see e.g. Rambam Hil. Edut 17:7. 3. Semag and Yere'im hold מדבר שקר תרחק is a commandment to refrain from lying in more general contexts than just when testifying. – Joel K Sep 13 at 14:17

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