Parshat כי תבא Deuteronomy 26:3 Abraham Was Whose Forefather?  

Deuteronomy 26:3 – And you shall come to the kohen who will be [serving] in those days, and say to him, “I declare this day to the Lord, your God, that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us.”

Bikurim Chapter 1:4 – A convert brings the first fruits but he does say [the text associated with bringing the first fruits] because the phrase: “the land that you promised to our forefathers…” does not apply to him.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #16:

There are some Rishonim [rabbis of the early period] who did not follow the opinion of this Mishna. Rather they ruled that a convert would bring the first fruits and would say the accompanying prayer. They ruled this way because Abraham [to whom the land was promised] was the father of [all the nations of] the world. The ruling follows the verse in Genesis 17:5, “and you shall become the father of a multitude of nations.” The rabbis of the Gemora learn from this verse “in the past you were the father of the nation of Aram, now you shall be the father of the whole world.”

This ruling of the early rabbis follows the opinion of the Jerusalem Talmud in Mesechet Bikurim Chapter 1:4 where it states: “It was taught in the name of Rabbi Yehuda that a convert brings the first fruits and recites the accompanying text. What is the reason for this? Because of the verse ‘and you shall become the father of a multitude of nations.’” The Gemora there concludes: “Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levy states that the halacha is according to Rabbi Yehuda. There was a [court] case about this issue before Rabbi Abahu and he decided the case according to Rabbi Yehuda”.

Note that Tosafot in [Babylonian Talmud] Baba Basra 81a: states that there was a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda (a different on that the one mentioned above) and Rabbenu Tam.  Rabbi Yehuda held like the conclusion of the Jerusalem Talmud that the convert should bring and recite. Rabbenu Tam stated that the opinion should be according to the general Mishna.

The Rambam in Chapter 4, Halacha 3 of Bikurim rules that a convert should bring and should recite.  Behold Rabbenu Tam does not explicitly disagree with Rabbi Yehuda [in the Tosafot cited above] rather he only states that the opinion is according to a general Mishna. Additionally, regarding citing the [loosely associated] biblical verse as proof, he would state that we don’t learn halacha from homilies.

There are halachic implications [from this issue] that apply to our time. In the blessing after eating a meal is a convert allowed to say the phrase “our God and God of our forefathers” or the phrase “on the land that you gave to our forefathers”? Thus according to the above cited Tosafot comment,  Rabbenu Tam would not let a convert pray the blessing after meals. He would rely on the above cited Mishna to rule that when he (the convert) is praying alone he should instead use the phrase “God of the forefathers of Israel”. When the convert is in synagogue he would say the phrase “God of your forefathers”. All of this would explicitly not be according to the opinion of the Jerusalem Talmud cited above nor would it be according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda nor the final conclusion in the Jerusalem Talmud.

It appears, on the other hand, that one can bring a proof that we do [in fact] follow the conclusion of the Jerusalem Talmud. The proof comes from the fact that we rule that during Passover a convert does bring the Passover offering [exactly] as a [native] Jewish person would. This is stated explicitly in the verse in Numbers 9:14 – “And if someone from outside will have entered to be with you, he has to make the Passover offering…One law shall there be for you, both for the one who comes from outside and for the native born of the land.”

Similarly, behold, in our time apparently a convert is equally obligated in all the laws of Passover as a Jew. The Gemora Pesachim 116b states that whoever has not said these three words has not fulfilled the obligations of Passover: “pesach”, “matzah” and “marror”. “Pesach because our forefathers ate it when God jumped [pasach] over the houses of our forefathers.” Similar teachings are for “matzah” and “marror”. Behold, it is clearly, explicitly stated that a convert can [and should] say the phrase “our forefathers” just as a [native] Jewish person would. This is shown by the text above without which he would not be said to have fulfilled the obligations. We do not find any place in the Talmud or the Braitot or in the legal rulings of the early rabbis that a convert would recite the Passover haggada with any textural differences.

Behold, from here we see the proof that we do not follow the opinion of the above quoted Mishna; rather we follow the opinion of the conclusion of the Jerusalem Talmud.

With all that is stated above, it still requires further study how a convert could say the phrase [regarding the first fruits] “the land that you have given us” since converts do not inherit a portion in the land. This is also shown by the Sifri where it explicitly excludes women and servants and they also do not inherit a portion in the land. It would be a forced explanation to say that the phrase would apply to a convert who has purchased a plot of land from a Jewish person or who married a Jewish woman who owned a plot of the land (and she died and her son inherited it, and the son too died and now he has inherited it.)   The text of the Gemora and the halachic decisors does not lean towards this explanation. Further in a circumstance such as this, also women and servants would also bring first fruits and recite. Perhaps you could say that the case applies to a woman or a slave who received a gift of land on the condition that her husband (or the slave’s owner) has no control over it. Nevertheless, the fact is that we hold that women and servants do not recite the phrase “who has given to us”.

It appears that to resolve this question from the Sifri, one must answer that this is according to the teaching that is associated with the verse in Numbers 10:29 “Moshe said to Hovev the son of Re’uel, we are traveling to the place where God said regarding it: ‘I will give it to you’”. Note that the Gemora teaches there that it was given to Jews and not to non-Jews. If that is the case, then how does one fulfill the verse in Yechezkel 47:23 – “And it shall be in the tribe with which the stranger sojourns, there you shall give his inheritance, says the Lord God.” [Our sages say] that this verse refers to giving converts a plot of land in Israel for burial. Thus it is explained there that this is the reason why also converts are also able to say the phrase “the land which you gave to us.” Check out the Sifri at length. Here also, through this we rule that convert can say the phrase “the land which you gave to us.”

Perhaps we can also explain it according to what it states in Midrash Rabba Kohelet on the verse: “All rivers lead to the sea.” There it states that in the future, the converts will receive their portion in the land. There it explains a reason for this. According to this, then, it is appropriate and fitting for a convert to use the phrase “the land that you have given to us” based on the fact that it will be given in the future.


Editor’s Note: It seems clear to me that the Torah Temimah’s wanted to prove that the convert in our time and in previous times prays the same text that a native Jew prays. This is based on the fact that, as it says in the Jerusalem Talmud, that Abraham is the father of the whole world. The Torah Temimah then goes on to explain that an apparent conflicting opinion in the Sifri is actually not a dire objection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.