Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Geirus by Acceptance, Geirus by Revelation

The Marharal has proposed that one reason that Shimon was allowed to marry Dina is that they were both geirim, and "ger k'koton sh'nolad dami" -- a ger (vis a vis halachic relationships) is reborn as a new being and has no relatives.  Therefore, there was no issur for Shimon to marry Dina; or any of the other brothers to marry any of the twin sisters (according to one opinion), for that matter.  It also allows us to understand the Shvitei Kah could marry K'na'ani women (according to the other opinion), since everyone was a ger at that time.  The problem now is that Matan Torah, when we all went from bnei no'ach to klal yisrael, was a mass conversion.  One of the issues that lead to the Cheit haEigel was the newly forbidden relations; so there geirus severely limited the shiduch pool instead of expanding it.

The Maharal says the difference is that at Matan Torah, we had little Har Sinai (probably didn't look so all-fired little) held of our heads like a gigis (barrel) and told, "Accept the Torah, or this is your grave."  Subtle, but effective.  On that kind of conversion it is just not relevant to say "ger k'koton sh'nolad dami", because the person has not uprooted himself from his previous spiritual base and transplanted himself.  The Pachad Yitzchak (footnotes, not b'ki'yus, unfortunately) elaborates that when a person is forced to concede something that depends on will, the concession is simply a revelation of what was already true.  That is why the geirus at Har Sinai did not allow brothers and sisters to marry, while every geirus before and after (in principle, at least) does permit such marriages.

It is interesting how this changes how we usually understand the revelation at Har Sinai.  It was not a revelation of new ideas to a people who then could decide about accepting.  Rather the revelation at Har Sinai was revealing to klal yisrael who and what we really are.

In case you are wondering why we had to be forced to accept the Torah like that, instead of just being shown its beauty and gladly accepting it on our own.  Great question.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…