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Geir (recognized – i.e., adjudicated – by a Beit-Din to be a "legal alien"); one of 10 categories of persons inscribed in the yu•khas•in (public genealogy registries of Yi•sᵊrâ•eil; Ma•sëkët Qi•dush•in 69a-b; see detailed explanation in Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant' Live-Link (ABNC)).

Onᵊqᵊlos illuminates some of the range of meaning of in his Aramaic Tar•gum of Shᵊm•ot 21.20, translating in the first instance, but in the last instance.

The Biblical — and Ram•ba"m — definition of (i.e., before Medieval European – in contrast to Har Sin•ai – reforms) referred to an in-training, exclusively pre-conversion, non-Jew proselyte-candidate. The reason that the Kha•khâm•im of Tal•mud described such a wide (and otherwise contradictory) range of practices for geir•im is because they were describing geir•im in various stages of learning, from day-one (knowing nothing except the threshhold Shëva Mi•tzᵊw•ot Bᵊn•ei Noakh) until fully knowledgeable, practicing and ready for conversion.

"It was only during the later [Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh ha-Shein•i] period that a sharp distinction and a barrier of separation was erected between the Jew and the gentile… In addition to [idolatry] the low moral, social, and ethical standards of the surrounding gentiles were continually emphasized, and social contact with them was regarded as being a pernicious social and moral influence… Only considerations of humanity, such as relief of their poor, visiting the sick, affording them last rites (Ma•sëkët Git•in 61a) and discretion… were reasons for breaking the otherwise impenetrable barrier" ("Gentile," EJ, 7.410-412).

– Until Medieval times, the (resident-alien) referred to a "legal alien" who was, thereby, permitted to reside in the Jewish community—the only way to qualify to interact with a rabbi and be instructed in Tor•âh in order to qualify to convert. The Biblical geir to•shâv was a non-Jew who had met the minimum halakhic standards (Shëva Mi•tzᵊw•ot Bᵊn•ei Noakh) required by the Beit Din. This standard dates back to the 1st century CE; the earliest documentation being the Nᵊtzâr•im Beit-Din who authored them, enabling 1st century CE non-Jews to come to Tor•âh ("Acts" 15.20). This was required to permit the gentile to interact provisionally and temporarily (set by Tal•mud as a period of 12-24 months), in the Jewish community — either for the purpose of business and commerce or to (learn Tor•âh and) convert.

"- " ‭ ‬ (2012.10.02; " [], '") – The Biblical definition of was accepted up through the 12th century CE – by the logician (rationalist) Ram•ba"m – and retained its pristine definition until, four centuries later when the anti-Ram•ba"m irrationalist (Qabâl-ist) Rabbi Yo•seiph Karo of published his in Medieval (1565 CE) Europe (Venice)–naming "converts" with the appellation "so-and-so - "!!!

It must be noted here that, contrary to both the Ash•kᵊnazi and Sᵊphârâd•i traditions, the most pristine sect of Judaism, the Tei•mân•im No•sakh Ba•lad•i Dor Daim, rejected both the (irrationalist) Qa•bâl•âh and its (irrationalist) product, the Shu•khân •rukh, remaining faithful to the pristine and logical Tor•âh (and rationalist Ram•ba"m). Accordingly, neither the irrationalist Qa•bâl•âh nor the irrationalist Shu•khân •rukh are legitimate Ha•lâkh•âh. Rather, by contrast, the logical (rationalist) Mi•shᵊn•ëh Tor•âh of Ram•ba"m most faithfully transmits the Ha•lâkh•âh up to the 10th century CE while the later Qabâl-ists represent Medieval European innovation and reform contradicting Ha•lâkh•âh.

Appending the appellation "so-and-so - " to the names of Jews-by-choice immediately – and unprecedentedly – discriminated between "born Jews" and "converts," blurring the (pre-convert, non-Jew trainee) with the post-conversion Jew—whom Tor•âh explicitly commanded to be treated under the one same Tor•âh as the "born Jew" (bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 15.15,16,29). This Medieval reform and innovation was an addition to Tor•âh (prohibited: Dᵊvâr•im 13.1) in direct contravention of Tor•âh (Shᵊm•ot 22.20; bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 15.15,16,29; Shᵊm•ot 23.19; 34.26; Dᵊvâr•im 14.21; Tal•mud Mishᵊnâh Ma•sëkët Bâ• Mᵊtziy•â 58b and its Gᵊmâr•â – prohibiting reminding a convert, or the child of a convert, of their former status, which is oppressing the – "boiling a kid in its mother's milk," publicly embarrassing him or her, and equating such oppression to spilling his or her blood; a capital offense – see wa-Yi•qᵊr•â 19.16).

This Medieval European Reform has, in contradiction to Tor•âh and Ha•lâkh•âh, labeled "converted Jews" with a name that forever identifies them, publicly exposing them to racist and supremacist oppression from many "born Jews" (not to mention ostracism from former gentile relatives and friends who point out – and are corroborated by the rabbis!!! – that they aren't really Jews). As a result, instead of being just another Jew, they remain a "convert," which many racist and supremacist "born Jews" look down on as "not real Jews" and denigrate. It has also led to the Reform of "undoing" conversions, which has no basis or precedent prior to this Medieval European Reform. Marriage prohibitions were against the (non-Jew candidate), not against a Jew-by choice – for which there was only the one, same, Tor•âh as for the "born Jew" and there was to be no distinction between them (bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 15.15,16,29). This Medieval European innovation created and continues to empower an internal racist schism, enabling supremacist and racist "born Jews" to identify, discriminate against and contemptuously label the Jew-by-choice as a or "convert" – a less-than-real Jew.

Contradicting and contravening Tor•âh, this Medieval European Reform cannot be Ha•lâkh•âh. Rather, it is explicitly prohibited by Tor•âh and contradictory to Ha•lâkh•âh!

There has never been any such thing as a permanent geir to•shâv (or Tor•âh-acceptable Bën-Noakh = goy) after the bᵊrit Tor•âh at Har Sin•ai.

The Biblical was a non-Jew who complied with the minimum threshold requirements for acceptance as a (the shëva Mitz•wot Bᵊn•ei-Noakh) and is provisionally permitted to interact in the Jewish community solely for the purpose of transitioning to learn and implement Tor•âh and live a non-selectively Tor•âh-observant life). The masc. pl. is (geir•im), fem. (geir•âh)—Aram. (gi•or•â), connective pl. - (geir•ei-…).

Unlike Bᵊn•ei-Noakh, geir•im are authorized to interface with the Jewish community for continuing progress in Tor•âh study and observance , for business purposes, etc. A geir to•shâv is one who has distinguished himself from the Bᵊn•ei-Noakh (i.e., Goy•im) before the Beit-Din, but has not converted and, therefore, has not become a Jew(ess). Ha•lâkh•âh maintains certain distinctions between geir•im and Jews (e.g., relative to the Pësakh Seidër, geir•im are not called to Tor•âh, intermarriage is prohibited, etc.). While preserving such distinctions, geir•im should especially note that, unlike any Bᵊn•ei-Noakh, geir•im are subsumed in the Jewish community and included in its portion in hâ-o•lâm ha-bâ.

"A [geir] terminates all former family ties upon conversion and 'is considered a newly born child.' " ("Proselytes," EJ, 13:1183).

(Geir Tzëdëq; an alien, i.e. non-Jew, who has been recognized by a Beit-Din as Tzëdëq); i.e., a geir who has attained a level of Tor•âh-observance equivalent to those who qualify for conversion but, usually because of a marital entanglement with a spouse who rejects Tor•âh, cannot convert. In ancient times, fear of circumcision was another reason.

(hit•gai•yᵊr•ut; completing the geir process)—i.e. converting. Upon completing the geir to•shâv training, if one cannot convert—whether due to marital ineligibility or refusal of Orthodox rabbis—we promote the geir to•shâv to the status of (non-Jewish) geir tzëdëq.

(gi•yur; completion of the geir process)—i.e. conversion.

Geir is often confused with the inaccurately translated title "God-fearers," which included both Jews and (non-Jew) geir•im.

The definition of geir and its two counterpart Greek terms has become misunderstood in modern times.

In Biblical through Talmudic Hebrew, geir referred to an unconverted, non-Jew who had been recognized by a beit din as a novitiate engaged to learn—and apply as he or she learns—to become non-selectively observant of all of Tor•âh, with the goal of converting (except when circumstances prohibit conversion). In Biblical through Talmudic times, this recognition by a beit din was required in order to interact in the Jewish community, which was, otherwise, prohibited from interacting with gentiles.

The scholar who has come closest to the correct definitions is Louis H. Feldman (see "The Omnipresence of the God-Fearers," Biblical Archeology Review, 86.09-10, pp. 58-69 and Jew & Gentile in the Ancient World, see the General Judaica Shoppe in our Mall). Feldman extrapolates from pagan religions of the period to suggest the existence of an intermediate status between a "sympathizer" and coreligionist. However, as even Feldman noted, Judaism is proactively unlike pagan religions. Hence, those of Feldman's conclusions that depend on this premise are non sequitur.

Still, like the candidate who demanded it of Hi•leil, it's unreasonable to expect anyone to teach him everything that is needed in order to be Tor•âh-observant "while standing on one foot." Yet, in Biblical and Talmudic times, gentiles weren't permitted to interact with Jews in order to study. The sheer time required to learn implies a period of transition and at least one status that acts as a visa authorizing him or her to study in the Jewish community.

The following definitions assume one has absorbed the relevant information in both James Parkes (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, A Study in the Origins of Anti-Semitism, see the General Judaica Shoppe in our Mall)) and Feldman (see "The Omnipresence of the God-Fearers," Biblical Archeology Review, 86.09-10, pp. 58-69 and Jew & Gentile in the Ancient World, see the General Judaica Shoppe in our Mall).

"God-fearer" was the umbrella term that included both Jews and novitiates (i.e. pre-initiates, pre-proselytes, pre-converts). Feldman rightly describes novitiates to Judaism as "sympathizers" to Tor•âh (i.e. Judaism) / Jews. Unlike pagan religions, novitiates who converted were thereafter prohibited by Oral Law (documented in Tal•mud) from being labelled as converts! After conversion, novitiates became Jews, NOT "proselytes"—which causes confusion since the Greek προσηλυτος (prosælutos) was the closest Greek term the ancients knew to describe "near Jew" observers of Tor•âh. Despite this confusion, in Judaism, there is no such thing as a "convert." There are only

  1. temporary novitiates (geir to•shâv),
  2. Tor•âh-observant non-Jews (geir tzëdëq) and
  3. Jews (including those who converted).

Also unlike pagan religions, in Tor•âh, circumstances can (and did) arise in which candidates can become Tor•âh-observant but still not qualify to convert. (Inability to qualify for conversion was usually due either to fear of circumcision, by males, or to marriage to a spouse unwilling to convert, since conversion would, in such case, create in an intermarriage.) There arose, therefore, not only an intermediate (and, therefore, temporary) status as Feldman suggested, but also a permanent, non-Jewish, status we might call a "Tor•âh-observant non-convert."

The term describing the temporary status of an ordinary novitiate was (geir to•shâv; resident alien). When the geir to•shâv attained the level of observance required to convert, he or she converted if possible. However, in cases where conversion was impossible, upon attaining the level of Tor•âh-observance required of a convert the geir to•shâv was promoted to geir tzëdëq (just, or "righteous," alien). Both the geir to•shâv and the geir tzëdëq are non-Jews. It can then be easily understood why, in Tal•mud, the geir to•shâv is variously described in different levels of observance—as the individual progressed from his or her former paganism to become Tor•âh-observant.

Together, the geir to•shâv and the geir tzëdëq comprise the category Feldman lumped into the single category of "sympathizers."


HebrewGreekDescription
, &

These synonyms comprised both Yᵊhud•im and geir•im (Patrologia Latina (PL), XXXIII, cited by Parkes: "Cf. the correspondence between Ierōnumos and Augustine on this point. Letters 28, 40, 75, 82 in the Edition of Augustine's letters by Marcus Dodds, or PL …").

φοβουμενοι τον θεον; also σεβομενων προσηλυτων (see ABNC Live-Link Technology) The entire Tor•âh community; includes all categories below, all of which qualify as doing one's "utmost" to be Tor•âh-observant and, therefore, beneficiaries of Tor•âh's promise of a place in hâ-o•lâm ha-bâ.
θεσσεβεις One category of Feldman's "sympathizers"
προσηλυτος Second category of Feldman's "sympathizers"
Ιουδαιος Subsumes those who converted

Note the differences between a geir and a Bën Noakh):

By contrast, the Bën Noakh

Except their lack of commitment before a legitimate beit din to learn (and apply as they learn, over time) Tor•âh-observance non-selectively, as well as their consequent lack of recognition by a beit din and integration into the Jewish community, today's "Bën-Noakh" are otherwise similar to the Biblical and Talmudic geir.

Contrary to the historical definition, the modern rabbinic understanding of the term "geir" has deteriorated to refer to a convert to Judaism. However, one who converts to Judaism according to Ha•lâkh•âh is a Jew, no longer a geir and, in fact, Ha•lâkh•âh prohibits even referring to a Jew's conversion! So, Ha•lâkh•âh makes any distinction from a "born Jew" – or any questioning (much less invalidation) of such conversion – patently impossible! Nothing can invalidate a 'Jew by choice' (even this distinction is prohibited by Ha•lâkh•âh) any more than it can invalidate every 'born Jew' (Shᵊm•ot 12.49)!

As noted in the Encyclopedia Judaica, of the earliest extant references to the Noakhide Laws applying to non-Jews: "This latter list ["Acts" 15:20] is the only one that bears any systematic relationship to the set of religious laws which the Pentateuch makes obligatory upon resident aliens"—Hebrew geir•im ("Noachide Laws," Ency. Jud., 12.1190). What some rabbis today are calling "B'nai Noah" was first formally defined and stated by the Nᵊtzâr•im beit din, under our first Pâ•qid, Ya•a•qov 'ha-Tza•diq' Bën-Dâ•wid!!!

The quickest and easiest way to understand geir is to relate the geir to the modern definition of "Bnai Noah." The geir, then, differs in two ways:

  1. Semantic: the name. Both Tor•âh and Tal•mud refer unambiguously to Bᵊn•ei Noakh as all non-Jews, not just those who observe the Noakhide Laws. As the widely acknowledged world's foremost expert in Hellenism, Louis H. Feldman, makes clear in his article in the Biblical Archaeology Review (86.09-10, p. 58ff), in both Biblical and Talmudic times, these non-Jews were unconverted proselytes to Judaism called geir•im.
  2. Threshhold requirements, NOT an acceptable end goal. We, the Nᵊtzâr•im, who defined the earliest formal statement of the Noakhide Laws, stated explicitly in the same beit din decision that the Noakhide Laws were a threshhold minimum requirement for admission of non-Jewish geir•im to study Tor•âh in the Jewish community.
    Why this special threshhold requirement to admit non-Jews under these special circumstances? Because then, "Acts" 15.21 continues: these non-Jews, otherwise not permitted to mingle with Jews during that period, were permitted to attend synagogue, where they could learn the rest of Tor•âh from those who recite the Tor•âh of Moshëh every Shab•ât, in every city, from ancient generations, the Tor•âh of Moshëh being recited every Shab•ât in the synagogues (see our book, Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant').
    The Noakhide Laws were never an acceptable permanent goal for 'B'nai Noah.' What some rabbis hail as the end goal for 'B'nai Noah' was considered the minimum threshhold requirement for interrelating with the Jewish community in the 1st centuries B.C.E. and C.E.—for recognition as geir•im—precisely to distinguished them from the 'B'nai Noah'!

While the modern understanding of geir is "a convert to Judaism," the Biblical definition was slightly different. Students are directed to read "God-fearers," [sic] by Louis H. Feldman in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine (BAR; 86.09-10, pp. 58-69). BAR states: "There is simply no one in the world who has a better grasp of Hellenistic Jewish literature than Louis Feldman" (p. 45). Feldman's article is a MUST read.

It's clearly impossible for a non-Jews to come to learn Tor•âh already knowing Tor•âh. Neither could non-Jews learn Tor•âh in one day, "while standing on one foot," in order to become fully Tor•âh-observant that evening. When non-Jews became interested in learning about Judaism they required a special status to distinguish them above the Bᵊn•ei Noakh and give the opportunity and time to study in the Jewish community so that they could make the transition to full and non-selective Tor•âh-observance.

These novitiates to Judaism were granted the status of geir to•shâv (fem. geir•âh to•shëvët) by

  1. Coming before, and being recognized by, the Beit-Din
  2. As keeping the Noakhide laws and
  3. Committing before the beit din to learning and practicing the rest of Tor•âh-observance, to their utmost ("with all your heart and might" as instructed in the Shᵊma) and non-selectively (i.e. not according to "their own eyes nor their own heart").

These requirements remain—unchanged—the requirements for being recognized by our beit din as a geir to•shâv Nᵊtzâr•im.

Tal•mud documents that becoming a geir to•shâv enables the non-Jew to be counted within Israel, though it isn't the same as converting and the geir ISN'T a Jew (for which conversion is required.)

The Nᵊtzâr•im neither require, nor perform, conversions. Conversion is left entirely to Orthodox rabbis.

In the time of the Beit-ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh ha-Shein•i, most geir•im converted, which is why the term geir eventually blurred with "convert." However, when the geir converts, Orthodox Ha•lâkh•âh then recognizes him or her as a Jew(ess). The Jew(ess)—whom Orthodox Ha•lâkh•âh prohibits from even being reminded of their non-Jewish past—is then no longer a geir(âh).

Geir Tzëdëq

There were also many geir•im who never converted, either because they feared circumcision or because they were married to a non-Jew who didn't want to convert (and for whom conversion was prohibited because it would have created a prohibited intermarriage).

Upon becoming conversant with, and observant of, all of the Mitz•wot of Tor•âh like a Jew, the geir to•shâv who didn't convert was then instead recognized as a geir tzëdëq (who was still not a Jew). Except for a short-list of explicit exceptions for non-Jews, the geir tzëdëq's practice of Tor•âh is identical to that of the Jew's practice. With the exceptions of the aforementioned short-list, when the geir tzëdëq interfaces in the Orthodox Jewish community, his or her practice must be identical (or corrected to become identical) to that of Orthodox Tei•mân•im and Nᵊtzâr•im Jews. (These sometimes differ from Ash•kᵊnazim Jews.)

Therefore, it is inaccurate to confuse the geir, an unconverted non-Jew, with the (converted – no longer a convert) Jew. A geir to•shâv is a non-Jew novitiate, who has come before a legitimate Beit Din (i.e. in the legitimate Jewish community, as opposed to a phony 'beit din' of Christian Jews and Christian (Hellenist) pseudo-Judaism, recognized by no one in the legitimate Jewish community) and been recognized as a non-Jew, with probationary status in the Jewish community, committed to learning Tor•âh and keeping it non-selectively (see Shᵊma), step-by-step as they learn.

Being non-Jews, geir•im are not permitted to intermarry with Jews.

It is essential to understand that the status of geir to•shâv is both provisional and temporary. One cannot remain a geir to•shâv.

The status of geir to•shâv is designed to enable the non-Jew to learn Tor•âh and become Tor•âh-observant within a reasonable period of time. If the geir to•shâv doesn't progress to full and non-selective observance of the 613 Mitz•wot his or her status as geir to•shâv must be terminated.

Cf. also The Nᵊtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matitᵊyâhu (NHM, in English) note 23.15.2.

Relation to Laws of Conversion

"The procedure, established by the Tanâ•im, according to which a non-Jew may be accepted into the Jewish faith, was elucidated as follows [restoring the Hebrew]:

"In our days, when a [geir] comes to be converted, we say to him: 'What is your objective? Is it not known to you that today the people of Israel are wretched, driven about, exiled, and in constant suffering?' If he says: 'I know of this and I do not have the merit,' we accept him immediately and we inform him of some of the lighter precepts and of some of the severer ones … we inform him of the chastisements for the transgression of these precepts … we should not overburden him nor be meticulous with him…" (Ma•sëkët Yᵊvâm•ot 47a …)."

"This text refers to a person who converted through conviction… The acceptance of a [geir] "under the Wings of the [Shᵊkhin•âh]" is equivalent to Israel's entry into the [bᵊrit], i.e., with circumcision, immersion, and offering a sacrifice… R. Yokhanan ben-Zaqai instituted that in those times when sacrifice was no longer possible, a [geir] was not obliged to set aside money for the sacrifice (Ma•sëkët Kᵊrit•ot 9a) Therefore, only circumcision and immersion remained…"

The act of conversion must take place before a Beit Din, consisting of three members… (Ma•sëkët Yᵊvâm•ot 46b-47a)." ("Proselytes," EJ, 13:1183)

Subsequently, only one Tor•âh applied to the Jew, whether "born Jew" or "Jew by choice" – Shᵊm•ot 12.49. Even mention of a Jew's conversion was prohibited by Ha•lâkh•âh.

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