03 February 2015

The Ger Toshav

14 Shevat 5775

Excerpts from The Non-Jew in Eretz Yisrael by Rabbi Meir Kahane
in Ohr HaRa'ayon, Chapter 20

...there are three types of non-Jews: Idolaters, descendants of Noah, and "foreigners and resident aliens." Regarding Eretz Yisrael, however, non-Jews are divided up into only two groups. The first is non-Jewish nations who were in the Land when Israel arrived there to conquer and occupy it. The second is all the rest of the non-Jewish nations, including idolaters, descendants of Noah, and foreigners and alien residents.

...according to G-d's decree, any non-Jew given the right to ask to live in Eretz Yisrael must accept hard and fast conditions in accordance with the Halachah, namely tribute and servitude.

...The conditions are as follows: 1) acceptance of the status of ger toshav, resident alien, with abandonment of idolatry and acceptance of the seven Noahide laws; 2) tribute; 3) servitude. Because an argument has arisen among medieval scholars regarding ger toshav, let us leave it aside until we explain the two others, tribute and servotude, regarding which all agree that without these a non-Jew cannot live in Eretz Yisrael.

As the Torah explains, these two conditions are the main ones applying to the non-Jew who wishes to dwell in Eretz Yisrael, because these serve to ensure in advance the security of the Jewish commonwealth....

Tribute and servitude were intended to underscore the inequality between Israel and the nations in Eretz Yisrael, and they must accept both. Accepting just one will not help them, for only through both will their submission be proven. Sifri (Shoftim, 200) comments, "if they said, 'We agree to tribute but not servitude' or 'servitude but not tribute,' we do not listen to them." Rambam ruled the same (Hilchot Melachim 6:1), as did Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 527 [503]). Redak comments (Josh. 9:7):
If they submit, eradicate their idolatry and accept the seven Noahide laws..., they must also become conquered subjects and serve Israel, as it says, "They shall become tribute and serve you" (Deut. 20:11).
Let us now examine the precise meaning of "tribute and servitude." Rambam wites (Ibid):
"Servitude" involves their accepting inferior status and not lifting their heads among the Jews. Rather, they must remain conquered subjects, never to be appointed over Israel for any purpose in the world. As for "tribute," they must be ready to serve the king physically and monetarily.
It is obvious that a non-Jew must never have any portion in Eretz Yisrael. The non-Jew dwelling in Eretz Yisrael must be an alien without ownership or mastery over the Land....

...Rambam seeks to draw into focus the principle of distancing the non-Jew who wishes to dwell in the Land from every attachment and mastery over it. Rambam explains that this is the servitude mentioned in Parshat Shoftim (Deut. 20:11).

...We must realize that even if a non-Jew submits properly and is allowed to live in the Land, his residence is still restricted....

Here is a response to the person who asks: If G-d demanded our separation from the nations, why allow non-Jews to live in the Land? The answer is that G-d wished to eradicate idolatry as much as possible, thereby sanctifying His name among the nations so that they would accept the yoke of His kingdom. If a non-Jew sincerely wishes to be a resident alien [ger toshav], to abandon idolatry and undertake the seven Noahide laws, thereby sanctifying G-d's name, better that he should do this and live in Eretz Yisrael than to live outside the Land as an idolater and profane G-d's name. Clearly, however, all this applies only if he accepts conditions guaranteeing that he remain isolated from Israel, and ensuring his understanding that Eretz Yisrael is the exclusive land of the Jewish People and that he has only the right to reside there.

Therefore, besides the conditions enumerated above, the Torah established additional restrictions. First, Sifri says [Ibid.), "'In your midst': And not on the border." The reason for this is simple. We still suspect him lest he aid the enemy and endanger us. Second, Sifri teaches (Ibid.), "'[To reside]... in your gates' (Deut. 23:17): In your gates and not in Jerusalem." Jerusalem's holiness cannot bear the impurity of a non-Jew, hence, even a non-Jew allowed to live everywhere else in Eretz Yisrael is forbidden to live in the Holy City. It would seem that to live there while passing through is permitted, for that is not called "residence."

Sifri also teaches (Ibid.): "'He shall be allowed to reside with you' (Deut. 23:17): And not in the city itself." I believe the simple interpretation of this is that although a particular non-Jew can be permitted to live in Eretz Yisrael "with you," ...we are still required to separate from him, hence we are forbidden to settle him among us in the same city with Jews.

...we are allowed - not obligated - to let such a non-Jew live in Eretz Yisrael. If, for any reason, we fear danger or deception, then we are certainly permitted and required to forbid every non-Jew, even the resident alien, to live in the Land (after all, even converts were rejected during certain periods for certain reasons).

...to our great chagrin, the "What will they say?" mentality has infiltrated even among Torah scholars. Some of them have tried to give non-Jewish abominations a stamp of approval and to nullify the Divine conditions that were meant to separate between the holy and the profane and between Israel and the nations, and that were meant to ensure that Eretz Yisrael remains the land of the people of Israel, isolated from such abominations.

...the non-Jew is not a part of the Jewish people. He has no portion in the Land, and no one can seriously claim that he can be granted authority over Israel. There is no more blatant sign of an idol being placed in the Temple, of non-Jewish culture influencing even those who learn Torah. May the merciful G-d forgive sin!


  1. I often find myself, when talking to my fellow Orthodox Jews, using the phrase, "it's not so simple."

    So this time with the idea that no gentiles are part of klal Yisrael, I wonder if that's so simple, as in the case of bnei noach and ger toshaiv.

  2. What's not clear? Doesn't every Orthodox Jew who should know Torah, know this? The bnei Noach are the nations of the world who will all live according to the 7 Laws of Noach but live in their respective countries. The Ger Toshav is a ben Noach who lives in the Land of Israel, in accordance to the laws of the Ben Noach. No change, no problem - it's Torah.