Monday, June 6, 2011

[KollelH blog] The Geirus Of Mattan Torah

The Rama (Orach Chaim 490:9) says that we are accustomed to reading Megillas
Rus on Shavuos. The Vilna Gaon suggests that the reason for this custom is that since our
fathers accepted the Torah on Shavuos, and thereby were nisga'er (converted), we read
the megillah that discusses Rus, who similarly was nisgarah.

The Gemaras, in Yevamos 46a and Krisus 9a, say that at Mattan Torah Klal
Yisrael entered into a bris through geirus. We learn several halachos of geirus for future
generations from the geirus of Mattan Torah. One halacha that we learn is that just as
our fathers required milah, tevilah and korban to convert, future converts require the

The Gemara in Shabbos 130a explains the pasuk in Bamidbar 11:10, "Vayishma
Moshe es ha'um boche l'mishpichosam," as follows: The Bnei Yisrael were crying over the fact
that they became forbidden to marry their relatives after Mattan Torah. The Maharal (in
Gur Aryeh Parshas Vayigash,) asks about the Gemara in Yevamos 22a that says that a
ger can marry his biological sister because ger she'nisgaer k'katan she'nolad dami – a
convert is considered as if he was just born; therefore he is not considered related to his
biological family, even if they too subsequently convert. Since, as stated earlier, Bnei
Yisrael became converts at Mattan Torah, why then were Bnei Yisrael in that generation
crying over the prohibition of marrying relatives? Since they were converts, they had no
relatives that were forbidden to them!

The Maharal answers that the rule of ger she'nisgaer k'katan she'nolad dami can
only be applied to someone who converts willingly, by his own volition. Since at Mattan
Torah, Hashem forced Bnei Yisrael to accept the Torah, we cannot apply the rule and they
became forbidden to marry their relatives.

The sefer, Harirai Kedem, explains that the geirus of Mattan Torah was not
that each individual converted on an individual level all at once; rather it was a geirus
of the tzibur (communal conversion). By Mattan Torah the entire nation converted as
one; when all of Klal Yisrael proclaimed "na'aseh v'nishma" - k'ish echad b'lev echad, it
was an acceptance of the yoke of the Torah and mitzvos as a whole nation. The Rambam
(Hilchos Isssurei Biah 13:3) writes that the korban at Mattan Torah was brought al
yidai kol Yisrael. The Rambam seems to say that the korban was a korban tzibur. We
can understand that since there was a conversion of the tzibur, the tzibur had to bring a
korban tzibur.

Based on this we can answer the Maharal's question mentioned earlier of why
the Bnei Yisrael of that generation cried over their newly forbidden relatives. We only
say that a convert is considered to be newborn and unrelated to his biological family –
even if they later convert, when a ger first converts alone. As explained earlier, at Mattan
Torah the geirus was not an individual conversion, but rather it was one geirus which
incorporated the entire nation. Perhaps as one geirus, everyone's biological relatives remain their relatives. Therefore Bnei Yisrael of the generation of Mattan Torah cried over the prohibition to marry relatives.

The Gemara in Kisubos 11a quotes Rav Huna that bais din can convert a ger
kattan (a minor who his mother had brought to convert). The Gemara seeks a possible
source for Rav Huna's halacha from various mishnayos – but to no avail. The Ritvah
asks why the Gemara doesn't suggest that the source for Rav Huna'a halacha is from
Mattan Torah. After all, there were k'tanim present at Mattan Torah. And if the geirus
of Mattan Torah was not similar to that of Rav Huna's halacha, then how did the geirus
of Mattan Torah work on k'tanim?

Based on the aforementioned explanation that the geirus of Mattan Torah was a
geirus of the tzibur, we can answer the Ritvah's question. The Gemara cannot cite Mattan
Torah as a source for Rav Huna's halacha because the geirus of Mattan Torah was a
geirus of the tzibur. Therefore, as members of the tzibur, the k'tanim were included in
the geirus. However a private geirus performed by beis din may arguably not be done on behalf of a kattan.


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Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 6/07/2011 12:55:00 AM

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