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Section: Questions   Category: Miscellaneous
TAGS:family relationship  Ger  marriage
Miscellaneous - convert and non jewish family
Submitted by nikki  Answered by Rabbi Tzvi Frank
Hi Nicky,

I am sure you have heard that as a convert, you are actually considered "new entities" and technically lose all former familial relationships. According to this principle it would appear that a convert to Judaism would not be obligated to fulfill all the myriad difficult requirements associated with the mitzvah in the 10 commandments of Honor thy Father and thy Mother.

Nevertheless, the Rambam (Maimonedes) in Hilchos Mamrim 5:10 clearly states that although the Biblical commandment of Honor thy Father and Mother does not halachakly apply, still a convert must not mistreat his parents in any way. In the words of Maimonedes "a convert to Judaism is prohibited to curse, smite or shame his biological father. One is even required to honor his biological parents somewhat". This is on a Rabbinic level not a Biblical level but it is prohibited nevertheless.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe 2:130) writes that, in fact, gentiles are not obligated in the formal mitzva of honoring parents that applies to the Jewish people. They are, however, obligated in the fundamental precept of "hakarat hatov" - showing gratitude, a universal value. Needless to say, anyone with a sense of appreciation for kindness bestowed upon him would display a considerable level of respect towards his/her parents, who gave him/her his/her life and went through the trouble of rearing him/her. Therefore, although the specific Biblical laws of "kibbud av v'em" do not apply to biological parents after the children convert, they must nevertheless honor their parents whereas they are included in the universal obligation of showing gratitude.

We clearly see that you may continue your relationship with your mother and provided that there are no religious influences that will confuse your future children, your fiance shouldn't have a problem with it.

However, he does have a problem with it.

I would make an appointment together with your fiance to speak with his Rabbi and come to an understanding on this issue. I beg you to please follow this piece of advice. DO NOT GO INTO THIS WITHOUT COMPLETELY CLARIFYING AND ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE. Be above board entirely and let him understand a)your sincerity, b)the impossibility of your severing your relationship with your biological mother with whom you are on good terms, c)the improbability that your mother would choose to religiously influence your future children.

Having said that, please do not discount your fiance's concerns. He only wants to do what is right. This is his perception of right. I am sure that he's not trying to be difficult but he does not think that there is any other solution to his concern. You will have to address those concerns.

Speak to his Rabbi with him and come to an agreement.

Best wishes for a happy marriage. May you build a true house in Israel.

posted:2009-01-26 00:18:50

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