July 19, 2024
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The Status of the Convert

In his May 31, 2018, article titled “Zevachim 45,” Rabbi Zev Reichman tries to prove that a convert is like a newly born person from the Gemara Zevachim daf 45, where it states that when a gentile dedicates something as hekdesh, the law of me’ilah applies to that object. Since one would receive lashes for me’ilah, and must receive a definite warning in order to receive lashes, he claims that this indicates that even if the gentile converts, he could not request that his dedication of the object be annulled because it wasn’t he who made the consecration. This seems to be a specious argument. First of all, the Gemara says nothing about lashes, so it could be argued that the law of me’ilah applies, but lashes are not administered. But more importantly, even if lashes are administered, it proves nothing about the convert’s status. After all, according to this reasoning, why is me’ilah with any object consecrated even by a Jew subject to lashes? Surely the Jew who consecrates the item may ask for the consecration to be revoked. He does not even have to convert to do this! Rather, the reason that a Jew’s consecration is still subject to a definite warning is because the object has been consecrated, and we can rely on the majority (rov) of cases that the one who made the dedication will not ask it to be revoked. The same would go for the consecration of a gentile, and we need not rely on Rabbi Reichman’s reason that the gentile is like a newly born person. So this is not a good proof, even though the concept that a convert is like a newly born person is a well-grounded halacha. We see that a warning can be called definite based on the majority (rov) from the case of a murderer, who is subject to execution when he murders after being properly warned, although the warning necessarily relies on the majority that most victims are not treifot.

Judah Koolyk

Suffern, NY

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