What does Halacha say about Jews who convert to Christianity?

If a Jew converts to Christianity are they still Jewish? What does Halakah Law say about this?

Update:

And why would someone write JEWS ONLY in their question if they have blocked all Jewish answerers?

16 Answers

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  • 10 years ago
    Best Answer

    A Jew who accepts Christianity might call himself a “Jewish Christian,”

    but he is no longer a Jew[1]. He can no longer even be counted as part of a

    Jewish congregation[2].

    Conversion to another faith is an act of religious treason in Judaism. It is one of

    the worst possible sins that a Jew can ever commit. Along with murder and

    incest, it is one of the three cardinal sins which may not be violated even

    under pain of death. [3] It’s a big deal.

    Rabbi Moses Isserles demanded a formal conversion back to Judaism for those who converted out of Judaism but who then wanted to return to Judaism. (One who practices idolatry denies the whole of the Torah.)[4]

    He demanded ritual immersion (mikveh) and repentance before a court of three (beit din). You will see this also in other Responsa literature: Radbaz, Responsa III, 415; Moses Isserles to Yoreh Deah 268.12; and Hoffman, Melamed Leho-il II, 84.

    Maimonides himself wrote that if a Jew converted to Christianity, he or she was no longer a Jew (Yad, loc. cit. 2:5.). Also see Maimonides, Hilchot Mamrim Perek 3, Halacha 1-3, as well as in Maimonides's Mishnah Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5.

    Note the following Biblical Passage:

    I Kings 18:21. Elijah the prophet asked Jews who were beginning to slip into the worship of the idol, Baal, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the God of the Jews is God, follow Him! but if Baal is God, then follow him!" Elijah told the Jews, one or the other, not both! You cannot believe in two opposite, mutually exclusive ideas simultaneously. Judaism and Christianity believe in opposite, mutually exclusive ideas, and you cannot be a Jew and a believer that Jesus was the Christ at the same time. We are supposed to prefer death over the practice of Christianity [5].

    This is not to say apostate ex-Jews are not welcome back!

    Rabbi Moses Isserles demanded a formal conversion back to Judaism for those who converted out of Judaism but who then wanted to return to Judaism. He demanded ritual immersion (mikveh) and repentance before a court of three (beit din). You will see this also in other Responsa literature: Radbaz, Responsa III, 415; Moses Isserles to Yoreh Deah 268.12; and Hoffman, Melamed Leho-il II, 84.

    Indeed, the Tanakh says…

    “As I live, says G-d, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but

    that they turn from their way and live.” (Ezek. 33:11).

    “When the wicked turns from his sin, and does what is lawful and

    right, he shall live thereby.” (Ibid. 33:19).

    “That every man shall return from his way, and I will forgive him.”

    (Jer. 36:3)

    “If they return to You, and confess Your Name, and pray ... then You

    will hear in Heaven, and forgive their sin.” (1 Kings 8:33, 34)

    Even a Jew who has embraced another faith is given another chance. He can still return to Judaism and be reaccepted by G-d. However, he must sever all ties with the faith he converted to (in this case, the Christian or “Messianic” faith).

    Source(s):

    1) Yad, loc. cit. 2:5.

    2) Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham 55:4.

    3) Sanhedrin 74a.

    4) Sifri on Num. 15:22 and Deut. 11:28; Yad, Avodas Kochavim 2:4. Cf. Horios 8a.

    5) Tshuvos Rivash 4, 11, Tshuvos Rabbi Yosef ben Lev 1:15.

    Harries, Richard (August 2003). "Should Christians Try to Convert Jews?". After the evil: Christianity and Judaism in the shadow of the Holocaust. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. g. 119. LCCN 2003-273342. ISBN 0199263132. "Thirdly, there is Jews for Jesus or, more generally, Messianic Judaism. This is a movement of people often of Jewish background who have come to believe Jesus is the expected Jewish messiah.…They often have congregations independent of other churches and specifically target Jews for conversion to their form of Christianity."

    • Kessler, Edward (2005). "Messianic Jews". in Edward Kessler and Neil Wenborn (eds.) (GoogleBooks). A dictionary of Jewish-Christian relations. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 292–293. LCCN 2005-012923. ISBN 9780521826921. OCLC 60340826. "From a mainstream Christian perspective Messianic Judaisms can also provoke hostility for misrepresenting Christianity."

    • Harris-Shapiro, Carol (1999). "Studying the Messianic Jews" (GoogleBooks). Messianic Judaism: a rabbi’s journey through religious change in America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. pp. g. 3. LCCN 98-54864. ISBN 0807010405. OCLC 45729039. "And while many evangelical Churches are openly supportive of Messianic Judaism, they treat it as an ethnic church squarely within evangelical Christianity, rather than as a separate entity."

    Source(s): I'm Jewish.
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Mark S gave a wonderful answer regarding this if you want to search for it.

    And the answer depends on who you ask. If a Jew converts to Christianity then he is no longer Jewish according to Reform Judaism. Period. Good luck to you, but your out of the clan.

    According to Orthodox Judaism, once your are born Jewish, you are always Jewish. However if you were to convert to Christianity you would be considered an apostate, which is essentially the same status as a non Jew with the exception that you could return to Judaism without going through the conversion process.

  • 10 years ago

    Sephardic Posek=1)Yad Chazaka,Hilchot Avodat Kochavim,2:5- "A Jew that worshiped idols, it is like he worshiped idols for everything he did. He is not like a Jew, that committed a sin, and deserves stoning, it is like he violated everything in the Torah. And this koferim, they are the farthest things from Jews. And they will never be accepted back, ever! Then it quotes Mishlei- Bring him a Raaya(proof, to what he said)."

    Sephardic Posek=2) In Rav Peretz's book, he said that any Jew that converts, is not Jewish.

    Ashkenaz Posek=3) According to Ram"a in Shulhan Aruch 168:12, he said that Jews that convert, must get another conversion.

    Is that enough sources? If not, I'll give you more.

    4)They don't actually want the answer to the question, they just want messianics insulting Jews answers.

  • Ami
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    As far as I know, Jews who convert to any other religion incur kareth, spiritual excision from the Jewish people.

    EDIT: They're still bound by all the laws of Judaism, but no longer counted as Jews. They can't count in a minyan, can't take part in the Passover celebration, etc.

    EDIT 2: I'm sorry. I might be wrong, so just go with Aravah's answer.

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  • anicet
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    i became into born and raised Jewish. even nonetheless I in no way had a company draw close of the psalms, proverbs or something even pronounced in the old testomony till I grew to grow to be Catholic. It became into as a Catholic that i got here across my Jewish roots. I truthfully have at the instant switched over to Orthodox Christianity and that i truly sense finished. In that they appreciate Jews. I stay in Oregon and be attentive to of a fellow ny Jew who has switched over to Orthdox Christian and is now a clergyman. The virtues of religion, desire, persistence, humility, ethical braveness, love, and charity are observed via Jews yet no longer in the comparable appreciate. A rabbi got here to the Orthodox Church I attend and suggested it sounds like a synagogue. Come and notice for yourselves.

  • 10 years ago

    The first part of your question has been quite adequately answered by a number of people, so I'll merely say that my understanding is the same as Aravah's, Mark's, etc.

    As for the second bit - good question. I'm sick and tired of being blocked by people who claim to want Jewish answers, but are actually merely trying to 'prove' to themselves that they are superior to us (I've even seen claims that the lack of Jewish answers means we're "running scared", when hardly any of us can possibly answer!!). Blocking like this can only mean that they can't bear to hear what we have to say. Whether they're scared themselves, or simply prefer to live in their own cloud cuckoo land, I couldn't say.

  • mindy
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    Well they would not no longer be Jewish...I hope they really study Christian religion before they convert..and leave the tribe..Christan religion has a lot of contradictions

  • Re the last question....

    What the "Messianics" firmly believe and occasionally admit in public is that they are the 'real Jews' and that only they know the 'truth' about Torah.

    Authentic Judaism counts for nothing in their eyes.

  • Kevin7
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    They are apostates buy can always return to Judaism if they only follow the law of Judaism and drop other religions

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    answer: Why? Because they really don't want to hear Jewish answers and actual Jewish law. I was fortunate and hadn't been blocked.

    My response - which someone attempted to twist and claim is NOT Jewish law:

    Tanakh - I Kings 18:21. G-d or Baal

    You want some direct references:

    Mishneh Torah Avodah Zara Chapter 2 Halachah 4: One who worships other gods denies the ENTIRE Torah

    Mishneh Torah Avodah Zara Chapter 2 Halachah 5: A Jew who worships other gods is like a gentile in ALL rgeards and is not like a Jewish sinner.

    Mishneh Torah Avodah Zara Chapter 2 Halachah 5: Jewish minim are not considered Jewish in any regard

    Mishneh Torah Avodah Zara Chapter 2 Halachah 5: It is forbidden to talk to Jewish minim ... as their thoughts ar en other gods.

    Mishneh Torah Avodah Zara Chapter 3 Halachah 1: Whoever serves false gods willingly is liable for kares

    As for religion, a Jew that converts to any other religon ceases to be a member of the Jewish community. The Torah makes this point very clearly when it gives the laws of the Korban Pesach.

    Shmot (Exodus) Chapter 12

    43. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it. מג. וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן זֹאת חֻקַּת הַפָּסַח כָּל בֶּן נֵכָר לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ:

    So it starts off the list of those not allowed to eat of it with the 'estranged one" i.e. the Jew who has changed to another religion

    After listing others, allowed and disallowed from eating the Korban Pesach it states:

    47. The entire community of Israel shall make it. מז. כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ:

    In other words- the Jew who has converted to another religion is explicitly excluded from the community of Israel - they are not part of Bnei Yisrael, they are not Jewish!

    When it is said a person remains Jewish regardless of converting, that is actually a statement to their detriment. The full statement should be- "a person remains liable to be judged under Jewish law even after converting to another religion." Thus a Jew who follows another religion would be punished with kares (spiritual excission) after death for being an apostate and abonding Judaism.

    Thanks to Allonyoav

    just as many people convert to Judaism, and thus become Jews, those Jews who convert to another faith are no longer Jews.

    The Biblical basis for this is I Kings 18:21. Elijah the prophet asked Jews who were beginning to slip into the worship of the idol, Baal, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the God of the Jews is God, follow Him! but if Baal is God, then follow him!" Elijah told the Jews, one or the other, not both! You cannot believe in two opposite, mutually exclusive ideas simultaneously. Judaism and Christianity believe in opposite, mutually exclusive ideas, and you cannot be a Jew and a believer that Jesus was the Christ at the same time. (See question 3.)

    A Rabbi in the later Middle Ages named the Hai Gaon, as quoted by Aderet in Responsa, VII #292, stated that a Jew who converted out of the faith was no longer a Jew. This was shared by numerous rabbis, which can be seen in the Responsa literature of Simon ben Zemah of Duran, Samuel de Medina, Judah Berab, Jacob Berab, Moses ben Elias Kapsali, and others in the Middle Ages.

    Most recently this can also be seen in the Responsa of the Satmar Rov in his Divrei Torah, Yoreh Deah #59, paragraph 5, as well as in the Responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Even Haezer Volume 4 Number 53.

    The very famous rabbi, Moses ben Maimon, called Maimonides, also wrote that if a Jew converted to Christianity, he or she was no longer a Jew. See Maimonides, Hilchot Mamrim Perek 3, Halacha 1-3, as well as in Maimonides's Mishnah Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5.

    Rabbi Moses Isserles demanded a formal conversion back to Judaism for those who converted out of Judaism but who then wanted to return to Judaism. He demanded ritual immersion (mikveh) and repentance before a court of three (beit din). You will see this also in other Responsa literature: Radbaz, Responsa III, 415; Moses Isserles to Yoreh Deah 268.12; and Hoffman, Melamed Leho-il II, 84.

    So long as one remains a Christian, one is no longer a Jew.

    Talmud

    The very famous rabbi, Moses ben Maimon, called Maimonides, also wrote that if a Jew converted to Christianity, he or she was no longer a Jew. See Maimonides, Hilchot Mamrim Perek 3, Halacha 1-3, as well as in Maimonides's Mishnah Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5.

    Apostates

    A Jewish child raised as a Christian, Father Daniel, aware of his parents' heritage, came to Israel and applied to become a citizen of Israel under the Law of Return. The Israeli Supreme Court denied his application, stating that since he converted, he was no longer a Jew

    Israeli Supreme Court: 72/62, PD 16:2428-55.

    Israel made the same decision concerning a so-called Messianic "Jewish" couple. The Beresfords from South Africa tried to become citizens of Israel under t

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