Feb 17, 2009

No Jews for You!

As Pesach approaches (yes, it really is just right around the corner) there's a lot of talk on various message boards/listservs I'm a part of. Something came across just now that has me raising an eyebrow, because I'm unfamiliar with it or where it comes from or if it's legit.

To paraphrase: According to this person, supposedly Jews who have not fully converted (halakicly I'm guessing) are not allowed to eat in the homes of Jews during the first two seders. Evidently we can eat at communal events, but not events that are in someone's private home, unless the evening is open to anyone and everyone (and most usually are closed to invitees). If we show up at the door, a Jew is supposed to welcome us in and feed us (in the spirit of Elijah?), but the meal's planning and execution can't be done with the intention of having someone who isn't Jewish at the table. Supposedly, this goes for all major Jewish holidays.

Thoughts? I'm unfamiliar with these rulings, and although I'm in the process of having a rav all my own, right now my inter-ravs (that's you guys) are what are helping me answer a lot of my curious questions. I could go to AskMoses.com , but they seem to be too busy to answer my questions these days (I emailed one in more than a week ago and it still hasn't been answered).

EDIT: I received a very kind email from the AskMoses folks about my response that never came. Well, it turns out that somehow the "m" got deleted from the ".com" and the email got lost in the ether. They did respond, though, just a day or so later. So thanks AskMoses! Never fear, I'm a repeat-repeat-repeat customer.


Tuvia said...

How weird, I have never in my life heard of this. I suppose to some extent I can understand the reasoning for it, but on the other hand I cannot.

Isn't it part of an Orthodox conversion that you are supposed to live an Orthodox lifestyle for 2 years prior? If you cannot participate in a sedar or other holidays how are you supposed to live the life style?

Mottel said...

I'm vaguely familiar with idea . . . as always speak to a Rav. I know that on Yom Tov, unlike Shabbos, we are free to cook for our meals. That being said, the meals have to be for the purpose of the mitzvah of rejoicing in the day and our needs - it is considered an 'extra' amount of cooking if a certain amount of food is specifically cooked for the non-Jew, and thus halachicaly problematic (on Shabbos everything is pre-cooked, so nothing there is no problem in who comes). There might be something else about the seder specifically, but I'm not sure.

In any event, there is a lot of room in Halacha for different things - so in all likely hood these things can be worked out optimally for all parties . . .

Schvach said...

I don't know how the rabbis have ruled, but the Chumash stipulates that no stranger may participate in the Paschal sacrifice, and that no uncircumcised male may participate.

Daniel Saunders said...

My understanding is that it is problematic to invite non-Jews to a seder because non-Jews were forbidden to eat the pesach sacrifice, which is what the seder replaced.

I think this is definitely a question to ask the rabbi you are seeing about your conversion, as the fact that you are converting may influence the answer he gives you.

Kate said...

Seems absurd. You're certainly more "observant" than I am, but I'd be welcome? I wouldn't have any idea what was going on at a (non-Reform) seder! Annoying "rules." Hope this one's untrue for your sake!

chaviva said...

@Kate ME, too :) I have participated in the seders the past several years, with Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews alike, knowing my situation, and no one ever turned me away or said a thing.

@DS I'll pose this question to him Thursday if I remember! But your explanation makes sense.

@Schvach Luckily I'm not a male. Phew.

@Mottel Interesting explanation. But yes, I should ask a rav. Since I have one now (sort of? almost?).

@Tuvia There are exceptions to living Jewishly as a non-Jew potential convert. Like, for example, they say that on Shabbat you should always do one thing to break Shabbos (flip a light switch, tear some TP or something) so that you're not FULLY observing. I can't recall the reasoning for this, but it's something along the lines of, as a non-Jew one is not bound to the mitzvot, but rather only to the Noachide laws, so one need not live by the mitzvot until converted.

The Real Shliach said...

Actually, a non-Jew who keeps the shabbos completely is chayav misah. Just saying.

chaviva said...

@TRS The thing of it is ... I did convert. Yes, through the Reform movement, but for me and for those who accept me as I am, as a Jew in all but the Orthodox beth din's final say, keeping Shabbos is important to me. Everyone screws up on Shabbos at least once, I think, so I guess it works out in my favor that I should accidentally flip a switch or do something in err. But at least I am doing it without knowing it, unlike the prescription for Jews who have not converted (to which you refer) to purposely do one thing un-Shabboslike for Shabbos.

The Real Shliach said...

First of all, I'm no one that I should talk. I mean, what I say is not in any way authoritative or necessarily correct or anything of that nature. It's just me. Having said that though, it would seem to me that if you want an orthodox beis din to recognize you as Jewish (and I have no idea whether you want or don't, I'm just saying) then you should do what they say. And in this case, that would include flipping on a light or checking the baseball score online for everyone or something like that, because if you believe that an orthodox beis din represents G-d, and you wish to connect to that G-d, then it might be a good idea.
Again, I'm just saying. You've probably heard all this before. I probably just sound like a pretentious prig. Sorry.

Moshe said...

Heard of it. Also heard that it applies to not religious Jews. Also heard that you can't give bread to someone who didn't wash.

Well, you know what, there are a lot of idiots out there. Are we eating Korban Pesach? No. Not only are we not eating it, we're not even allowed to pretend to be eating it, no roasted meat at seder.

Chaviva said...

@TRS Sorry it took me so long to respond. I'm not offended or anything by what you've said -- believe me, I've heard it before. The reminder of it always keeps me in perspective, which I sometimes need. At the same time, I have to act and do what is right to me and what the rabbi thinks is legit. So far? The rabbi hasn't mentioned anything like this to me and knows full well that I'm not new to this.

@Moshe you make some outstanding points!

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