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Thought for the Day: Making a Shidduch with Geirim and Their Descendants... or Not

It's called the Cocktail Party Effect.  Try this sometime you are having a conversation in a room filled with other groups of people have their own independent conversations: Put your tape recorder (I am sure there is an app for that) in your shirt pocket and record a few minutes of your conversation.  When you listen to it later, you'll hear nothing but a sort of blur of white noise.  (Of course, this experiment is only interesting if your original conversation was itself more than a blur of white noise; choose carefully, grasshopper.)  Your mind is able to pick out the relevant bits of sound and present you with a clear channel for communication.  I am kind of like that with shiurim... I have a buzz of thoughts going on in my head while I try -- with varying level of success -- to focus on the content of the shiur.  However, mention something that touches me directly and I am right there.

The topic was making shidduchim with geirim and their descendants; at one time the newest shiur by R' Fuerst, shlita, on  I found the first part of the shiur a bit disheartening.  The main direct reference to geirim in Chazal is the statement: קשים גרים לישראל כספחת/converts are as difficult to the Jewish nation as a nasty skin disease (קידושין  ע).  There are many different approaches to understanding that statement.  Rashi says that since geirim were not reared in observant Jewish homes, they'll make mistakes and lead other Jews to also make mistakes.  Tosefos says  the problem is that since geirim were not reared in observant Jewish homes, they take everything so darn seriously and so "out-frum" everyone.  Tosafos Y'shanim says that the Jewish people are spread around the world in the diaspora to pick up the sparks of k'dusha in that are those souls trapped among the goyim.  That is, it is not the geirim themselves that are the nasty skin disease, but their existence necessitates the Jewish nation to be left in the diaspora.

Many poskim are less philosophical -- regardless of the reason, a nasty skin disease is a nasty skin disease; the sense of many poskim is that shidduchim with geirim and their descendants should be avoided.  Of course, there are also many poskim on the other side.  In the end, it seems that one has a right to be circumspect regarding the issue, but there are plenty of factors that are probably more important.  At the very least, though, one should certainly tell the prospective in-laws that the candidate is a ger (or descendant of a ger).  Right?  If not, he would seem to risk a מקח טעות/raw deal and might even be able to back out with no financial penalty.

One problem, noted R' Fuerst, there is an open gemara that seems to contradict all these poskim.  The gemara says that a ger went to Rebbi and told him how hard it was to make a shidduch, so Rebbi told him to move to a new community where people wouldn't know his history!  The Steipler has a novel approach to why there is no issue of מקח טעות.  When do we say that one can claim "raw deal"?  Only when now that he has the new information he wants to reverse the merchandise (so to speak).  If the buyer would always feel that way, says the Steipler, then one is obligated to make a full disclosure before closing the deal.  If, however, one would change his mind after spending time with said acquisition, then the entire transaction is not considered in the category of מקח טעות.  One that is true, even if the person would have never listened to such a proposal had he known the details, one is not obligated to make said details known.

In the case of marriage, says the Steipler, people are not so quick to run for divorce even if they hear much bigger issues.  After all, there is a lot more to a marriage then whether you eat matzah balls on Pesach, loafers on Shabbos, or your ancestors accepted the Torah more recently than some 3,300 years ago.


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