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Converting when unable to keep a mitzvah


Rabbi David Sperling

Tammuz 12, 5774
Shalom Rabbis I am a reverend (yep, the title from the Beis Din since I lead the community and don’t have smichah) of a small community. Recently a visitor to the shul asked if they could convert if they cannot fast for medical reasons. I did not give an answer but directed them to the Beis Din to get a ruling but was wondering about this. In theory I would assume no- we allow a leniency for Jews for medical reasons since they are obligated. However, a potential convert is not obligated and thus we cannot allow a situation where we would have to use a leniency because of a situation created by ourselves What si the actual halachah in this situation? Kol Tuv .
Shalom Reverend, Thank you for your question. You are certainly correct that issues like this need to be sent to the particular Bet Din involved, and they will give a ruling. However, if we just want to approach the question in order to learn (and not give a particle ruling) the following might be of interest to you. In an interesting article about converting a man who is unable to medically be circumcised, a similar question is addressed. (You can see the article here - If we say that circumcision is needed to convert, then if the man cannot undergo the circumcision, he we be unable to become a Jew. If, on the other hand, we were to say that after the mikvah the convert is Jewish, but needs to do a mitzvah of brit millah (which is not the accepted opinion) we could say that he may convert then be exempt from the mitzvah of brit because of his medical condition. From this it would seem that if the potential convert accepts the mitzvah of fasting, but is unable to fast for medical reasons, they would certainly be able to convert. But, again, we will leave the ruling for the Bet Din to decide. Blessings.
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