Chapter 1 Historical Developments of the Term Ger Toshav and the Halakhic Implications Therein for Relating to Non-Jews

In: Jews in Dialogue

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Abstract

This article seeks to understand how the term ger toshav or the “resident Other” can be revived in modern times to guide Jewish religious law as it relates to the non-Jewish citizen in the modern State of Israel. For this to happen, a journey through the halakhic (Jewish legal) understanding of the Other must be undertaken from the Bible up until modern times. The biblical understanding of the Other through the term ger bifurcates in Rabbinic times to the ger tzedek (convert) and the ger toshav (resident Other). Rabbinic Judaism goes out of its way to show that the ger toshav is no longer relevant since the Jubilee year is not in practice in the Land of Israel. This study will show that although this is the prevalent opinion of Maimonides, there was a dissenting opinion held by his contemporary, the Raavad, Rabbi Abraham ben David. It was this opinion which was recognized and codified by modern halakhic deciders and then implemented on a very restricted basis. Is there a way to widen the application of the term ger toshav for a more accepting religious viewpoint towards the non-Jew? This article affirms this to be the case.

Jews in Dialogue

Jewish Responses to the Challenges of Multicultural Contemporaneity. Free Ebrei Volume 2

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