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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
From this I only know [that the law is applicable] within the Land of Israel, whence is it inferred [that it is also applicable] within the countries outside the Land? — It was specifically stated in Scripture, With thee, i.e., 'wherever he is with thee'.1 If so, why was the Land of Israel specified? — In the Land of Israel2 proof must be produced;3 outside the Land of Israel4 no such proof need be produced; these are the words of R. Judah. But the Sages said: Proof must be produced both within the Land of Israel and outside the Land.
'If he came and had witnesses with him,' what need is there for a Scriptural text?5 R. Shesheth replied: Where they6 state, 'We heard that he be came a proselyte at a certain particular court'. As It might have been taught that we are not to believe them,7 we were taught [that we do believe them].
'In your land;8 from this I only know [that the law is applicable] within the Land of Israel, whence is it inferred [that it is also applicable] within the countries outside the Land? — It was specifically stated in Scripture, With thee, i.e., wherever he is with thee'. But this,9 surely, had been expounded already!10 — One is derived from With thee11 and the other from With you.12
'But the Sages said: Proof must be produced both within the Land of Israel and outside the Land'. But, it is written, surely, in your land!13 — That expression is required [for the deduction] that proselytes may be accepted even in the Land of Israel. As it might have been assumed that there they become proselytes only on account of the prosperity of the Land of Israel, and at the present time also, when there is no prosperity, they might still be attracted14 by the Gleanings,15 the Forgotten Sheaf,16 the Corner17 and the Poor Man's Tithe,18 hence we were taught [that they may nevertheless be accepted].
R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan, 'The halachah is that proof must be produced19 both in the Land of Israel and outside the Land'. Is this not obvious? [In a dispute between] an individual and a majority the halachah is, of course, in agreement with the majority!20 — It might have been suggested that R. Judah's view is more acceptable since he is supported by Scriptural texts,21 hence we were taught [that the halachah is in agreement with the Sages].
Our Rabbis taught: And judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the proselyte that is with him;22 from this text23 did R. Judah deduce that a man who becomes a proselyte24 in the presence of a Beth din is deemed to be a proper proselyte; but he who does so privately is no proselyte.25
It once happened that a man came before R. Judah and told him, 'I have become a proselyte privately'. 'Have you witnesses'? R. Judah asked. 'No', the man replied. 'Have you children'? — 'Yes', the man replied. 'You are trusted', the Master said to him, 'as far as your own disqualification is concerned but you cannot be relied upon to disqualify your children.26
Did R. Judah, however, state that a proselyte is not trusted in respect of his children? Surely it was taught: He shall acknowledge27 implies, 'he shall be entitled to acknowledge him before others?28 From this did R. Judah deduce that a man is believed when he declares, 'This son of mine is firstborn',29 And as a man is believed when he declares, 'This son of mine is firstborn' so is he believed when he declares, 'This son of mine is the son of a divorced woman' or 'the son of a haluzah'.30 But the Sages say: He31 is not believed!32 — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is this that he33 really told him,34 'According to your own statement you are an idolater, and no idolater is eligible to tender evidence'.35
Rabina said: It is this that he36 really told him,37 'Have you children'? [And when the other replied] 'Yes' [he asked] 'Have you grandchildren'. [The reply being again] 'Yes', he told him 'You are trusted so far as to disqualify your own children38 but you cannot be trusted so far as to disqualify your grandchildren'.
Thus it was also taught elsewhere: R. Judah said, 'A man is trusted in respect [of the status of] his young son but not in respect of that of his grown-up son; and R. Hiyya b. Abba explained in the name of R. Johanan that 'young' does not mean actually a minor and 'grown-up' does not mean one who is actually 'of age', but any young son who has children is regarded as of age while any grown-up son who has no children is deemed to be a minor. And the law is in agreement with R. Nahman b. Isaac.39 But, surely, [a Baraitha] was taught in agreement with Rabina!40 — That statement was made with reference to the law of acknowledgement.41
Our Rabbis taught: If at the present time a man desires42 to become a proselyte, he is to be addressed as follows: 'What reason have you for desiring43 to become a proselyte; do you not know that Israel at the present time are persecuted and oppressed, despised, harassed and overcome by afflictions'? If he replies, 'I know and yet am unworthy',44 he is accepted forthwith, and is given instruction in some of the minor and some of the major commandments. He is informed of the sin [of the neglect of the commandments of] Gleanings,45 the Forgotten Sheaf,46 the Corner47 and the Poor Man's Tithe.48 He is also told of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments. Furthermore, he is addressed thus: 'Be it known to you that before you came to this condition, if you had eaten suet49 you would not have been punishable with kareth, if you had profaned the Sabbath you would not have been punishable with stoning; but now were you to eat suet49 you would be punished with kareth; were you to profane the Sabbath you would be punished with stoning'. And as he is informed of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments, so is he informed of the reward granted for their fulfilment. He is told, 'Be it known to you that the world to come was made only for the righteous, and that Israel at the present time are unable to bear
either too much prosperity. or too much suffering'. He is not, however, to be persuaded or dissuaded too much.1 If he accepted,2 he is circumcised forthwith. Should any shreds3 which render the circumcision invalid remain, he is to be circumcised a second time. As soon as he is healed arrangements are made for his immediate ablution, when two learned men must stand by his side and acquaint him with some of the minor commandments and with some of the major ones.4 When he comes up after his ablution he is deemed to be an Israelite in all respects.
In the case of a woman proselyte, women make her sit in the water up to her neck, while two learned men stand outside and give her instruction in some of the minor commandments and some of the major ones.
The same law5 applies to a proselyte and to an emancipated slave; and only where a menstruant may perform her ablution6 may a proselyte and an emancipated slave perform this ablution;7 and whatever is deemed an interception in ritual bathing8 is also deemed to be an interception in the ablutions of a proselyte, an emancipated slave and a menstruant.9
The Master said, 'If a man desires to become a proselyte … he is to be addressed as follows: "What reason have you for desiring to become a proselyte …" and he is made acquainted with some of the minor, and with some of the major commandments'. What is the reason? — In order that if he desire to withdraw let him do so;10 for R. Helbo said: Proselytes are as hard for Israel [to endure] as a sore,11 because it is written in Scripture. And the proselyte12 shall join himself with them, and they shall cleave13 to the house of Jacob.14
'He is informed of the sin [of the neglect of the commandment of] Gleanings, the Forgotten Sheaf, the Corner and the Poor Man's Tithe'. What is the reason? — R. Hiyya b. Abba replied in the name of R. Johanan: Because a Noahide15 would rather be killed than spend so much as a perutah16 which is not returnable.17
'He18 is not, however, to be persuaded, or dissuaded too much'. R. Eleazar said: What is the Scriptural proof? — It is written, And when she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left off speaking unto her.19 'We are forbidden', she20 told her,21 '[to move on the Sabbath beyond the] Sabbath boundaries'!22 — 'Whither thou goest' [the other replied] 'I will go'.23
'We have been commanded six hundred and thirteen commandments'! — 'Thy people shall be my people'.23
'We are forbidden idolatry'! — 'And thy God my God'.23
'If he accepted, he is circumcised forthwith'. What is the reason? — The performance of a commandment must not in any way be delayed.
'Should any shreds which render the circumcision invalid remain etc.', as we learned: These are the shreds which render the circumcision invalid: Flesh which covers the greater part of the corona,29 [a priest having been so circumcised] is not permitted to eat terumah; and R. Jeremiah b. Abba explained in the name of Rab: Flesh which covers the greater part of the height of the corona.30
'As soon as he is healed arrangements are made for his immediate ablution'. Only after he is healed but not before!31 What is the reason? — Because the water might irritate the wound.
'When two learned men must stand by his side'. Did not R. Hiyya, however, state in the name of R. Johanan that the initiation of a proselyte requires the presence of three? — But, surely. R. Johanan told the tanna:32 Read, 'three'.
'When he comes up after his ablution he is deemed to be an Israelite in all respects'. In respect of what practical issue? — In that if he retracted and then betrothed the daughter of an Israelite he is regarded as a non-conforming Israelite and his betrothal is valid.33
'The same law applies to a proselyte and to an emancipated slave'. Assuming this34 to apply to the acceptance of the yoke of the commandments,35 the following contradiction may be pointed out: This36 applies only to a proselyte. but an emancipated slave need not accept!37 — R. Shesheth replied: This is no contradiction, One statement is that of R. Simeon; the other, that of the Rabbis. For it was taught: And bewail her father and her mother etc.38 This only applies when she did not accept,39 but if she did accept,39 her ablution may be arranged, and he is permitted to marry her forthwith. R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: Even though she did not accept39 he may force her to perform one ablution as a mark of her slavery and a second ablution as a mark of her emancipation, and having liberated her
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