K. Appointing a King and Other Authorities

It is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 17:15): "Then you shall appoint a king over you, whom the Lord your G-d will choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you, but you shall not set over you a stranger who is not your brother." In Sifri, Shoftim, paragraph 157 it says: "Your brother, and not from others" (that is to say, Gentiles, for a Gentile king may not be appointed over Jews -- Rabbeinu Hillel). And not just a Gentile, but also a righteous convert, considered a Jew in every matter, is disqualified for kingship, as is explained in Midrash HaGadol: "'You shall not set over you a stranger ' -- to exclude the convert... from here they said it is forbidden to appoint a king from the converts, even after a number of generations, until his mother is [one born] Jewish."

This is also the law concerning any position of authority, as explained in Kiddushin 76b: "We have learned: 'Then you shall23 appoint a king over you from among your brethren,' all appointments of authority that you make should not be [made]24 except from among your brethren." Thus wrote Maimonides in chapter 1 of The Laws of Kings, halacha 4: "We do not appoint a king from amongst the converts, even after several generations, until his mother is [one born] Jewish, as it is written, 'You will not set over you a stranger who is not your brother.' Not only for kingship, but also for any position of authority in Israel, neither a general nor chief over fifty people, nor chief over ten people, nor even a person appointed to verify that the water is distributed to the fields. It is superfluous to talk about a judge or a nasi, who may not be other than [one born] a Jew, as is written, 'one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you'--all the people whom you give positions of authority shall not be from other than your brethren."

However, regarding the possibility of appointing a convert to judge over Jews, the Rishonim are in disagreement. In the opinion of Rashi on Tractate Yevamot 102a, s.v. ger dan et chaveiro, a convert is allowed to judge a Jew on property matters, but not concerning capital laws (see also on Kiddushin 76b, s.v. kol mesimot.) However, in the opinion of the Rif at the end of chapter 4 of Sanhedrin, the Tosaphot on Yevamot 45b s.v. keivan and in Sanhedrin 36b s.v. chada, the Nimukei Yosef at the beginning of chapter 12 of Yevamot, the Ran on the Rif, end of chapter 4 of Sanhedrin, and the Meiri on Kiddushin there, a convert cannot judge a Jew, even on property matters, until his mother is [one born] Jewish. Thus Maimonides also ruled in The Laws of Sanhedrin, chapter 2 halacha 9: "A Beit Din of three [judges], one of them being a convert, is disqualified until his mother is [one born] Jewish." Nevertheless, a convert may judge his fellow convert, as it is explained in Yevamot 102 and as Maimonides wrote in chapter 11, halacha 11. Also the Tur and Shulchan Aruch in Choshen Mishpat, paragraph 7, wrote similarly.

It is appropriate to mention the words of the Sefer HaChinuch, commandment 509 (in other editions 498) on this subject: "The root of this commandment is well known... one appointed to authority... must be, at the very least, from the seed of Israel, for they are merciful [people] the sons of merciful [people], in order that they have mercy on the nation and not oppress them in any matter. He must love truth, righteousness, and integrity; as is known, anyone from the family of Abraham possess all these good qualities..."

It must be emphasized that this is an example of the distinction between one who comes from the seed of Israel and a righteous Gentile who converts to Judaism. Even though there may not be many such examples, this is not an exceptional case, as will be further clarified.

L. Defamation

It is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 22:19-21) regarding defamation of one's wife: "And they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the girl, because he has defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he may not divorce her all his life." In Sifri on the portion of Ki Teze, section 238 it is written: "'And give them to the father of the girl' -- with the exception of a female convert25 whose mother became pregnant before she converted, but gave birth after she converted; for [defaming] her daughter one does not pay a hundred shekels of silver."

Thus we learn in Ketubot, chapter 4, mishnah 3: "A woman who converted with her daughter and [the daughter, while engaged] had illicit sexual relations -- she is put to death by strangulation [and not by stoning, for stoning is only in the case of a woman born Jewish]. She need not be taken out of her father's door [as is the law for an engaged woman born Jewish] and [her husband does not have to pay a fine] of one hundred shekels [if he defamed her, for this is only the law concerning a woman born Jewish]. If the mother became pregnant before she converted and gave birth after her conversion, she [the engaged daughter who had illicit sexual relations] is put to death by stoning, but [the law concerning] her father's door does not apply to her, nor [the law concerning] one hundred shekels. If the mother both became pregnant and gave birth after her conversion, her daughter is considered a born Jew in all matters." Thus Maimonides also wrote in The Laws of a Virgin Girl, chapter 3, halacha 8: "For any woman whose rape or seduction does not carry a fine, one who defames her is exempt from lashes and payments. So it is regarding a Gentile woman who converted and a maidservant who was manumitted under the age of three years; even if she was conceived before her mother converted and was born after she converted, one who defames her is exempt from lashes, as it says: 'Because he has defamed a virgin of Israel' -- [this does not apply] until her conception and birth are in holiness."

M. You Shall Not Hate

It is written in the Torah (Leviticus 19:17): "You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall certainly rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on his account" -- so it is clearly stated in the Torah that this prohibition specifically regards Jews. And so Maimonides wrote in The Laws of Mental States, chapter 6, halacha 6 (in the printed edition, halacha 5): "Anyone who hates a Jew in his heart transgresses a negative commandment, as it says: 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart'." Thus he also wrote in Sefer HaMitzvot, negative commandment 302, and likewise it appears in Sefer HaChinuch, commandment 245 (in other editions 238).

N. You Shall not Avenge or Bear a Grudge -- And You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

It is written in the Torah (Leviticus 19:18): "You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord" -- here also the verse yells out "the children of your people." In Torat Cohanim on the portion of Kedoshim, chapter 4, halacha 12: "You shall not avenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people -- but you can avenge and bear a grudge against others" (that is, against Gentiles -- explanation of the Ra'avad). In the words of Maimonides in The Laws of Mental States, chapter 7, halacha 10 (in the printed edition, halacha 7): "One who avenges against his fellow transgresses a negative commandment, as it says: 'You shall not avenge'." And there in halacha 11 (in the printed edition, the continuation of halacha 7): "What is considered vengeance? If one's fellow said to him 'lend me your ax' and he answered 'I will not lend it to you.' The next day he needed to borrow an ax from his friend. He said to him 'lend me your ax' and the other answered, 'I will not lend it to you, as you did not lend it to me when I requested.' This is vengeance." And there, halacha 12 (in the printed edition, halacha 8): "Also, anyone who bears a grudge against a Jew transgresses a negative commandment, as it says: 'You shall not bear a grudge against the children of your people.' How is this? Reuven said to Shimon 'rent me this house' or 'lend me this ox' and Shimon refused. Later, Shimon needed to borrow or to rent and Reuven said: 'See? I will lend it to you, for I am not like you and I will not pay you back for your actions.' One who does so transgresses the commandment 'You shall not bear a grudge'..."

With regards to the second half of the verse, Maimonides wrote in Sefer HaMitzvot positive commandment 206 (according to Rav Kapach's edition): "We were commanded to love one another...and my compassion and love to my brother in faith and religion shall be as my love and compassion to myself..." In chapter 6 of The Laws of Mental States, halacha 4 (in the printed edition, halacha 3): "It is a commandment for every person to love each and every Jew as he loves himself, as it says: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'."

O. One Who Sees Jewish Houses/Jewish Graveyards -- Gentile Houses/Gentile Graveyards

In Berachot 58b this beraitha appears: "The rabbis learned: one who sees inhabited Jewish houses says: 'Blessed is He who establishes the border of the widow,' [if he sees them] in their destruction he says: 'Blessed is the true judge.' On Gentile inhabited houses he says 'The Lord will pluck up the house of the proud, but He will establish the border of the widow,' in their destruction --he says, 'O Lord G-d of vengeance; O G-d of vengeance, appear!'" Furthermore there: "The rabbis taught: one who sees Jewish cemeteries says: 'Blessed be He who created you in judgement, and maintained you in judgement, and gathered you in judgement and in the future will raise you up in judgement.' The son of Ravina concluded in the name of Rav Nachman the son of Isaac: 'and knows all of your numbers, and in the future He will give you life and establish you in judgement; blessed is the reviver of the dead.' On cemeteries of the Gentiles he says: 'Your mother shall be greatly ashamed; she that bore you shall be disgraced: behold the end of the nations is a wilderness, dry land, and desert'."26 The exact words of the Talmud appear in Maimonides, chapter 10 of The Laws of Blessings, halacha 11 (in printed editions, halacha 10) and in halacha 22 (in printed editions, halacha 19), and also in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, end of paragraph 224.27

P. 'You [Jews] Are Called Man' -- The Comparison of Gentiles to Animals

In Ezekiel 23:20 it says: "There she lusted upon her paramours, whose members were like those of asses, and whose issue was like that of horses" ('whose members were like those of asses' -- their sexual organs, 'and whose issue was like that of horses' -- means excessive sexual relations, for horses engage in copulation more that any other male animals, 'whose issue' -- spouting of semen like a stream of passing water -- Rashi). This verse is a parable to the Gentiles, as is explained there, and the verse compares them to animals. This comparison is not by chance, as we will see further on, and it represents the foundation for a number of Halachic laws.

Q. An Ox who Damages a Maidservant

It is written in the Torah (Exodus 21:22): "If men fight and hurt a woman with child so that her fetus departs from her, and yet no further harm ensue, he shall surely be punished, as the woman's husband will lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine." In Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and in the Midrash HaGadol it is stated: "'If men fight -- from here I only have [learned concerning] men, from where do I know that this includes two women or a woman and a man? It is stated: '...shall surely be punished' -- whether a man or a woman. What is taught by 'men'? -- men and not oxen. From here they said: if one's ox injures a woman, [the owner] is exempt from payments for her offspring." And in the Mishnah (Bava Kama, chapter 5, mishnah 5): "An ox which attempted to injure his fellow [ox] and [instead] hit a [pregnant] woman and she aborted her child -- [the owner of the ox is] exempt from payment for her offspring." And there in the Talmud (49a): "Rav Papa said: an ox who injured a pregnant maidservant and she had a miscarriage -- [the owner of the ox] must pay her for her offspring. What is the reason? For he [the ox] has merely injured a pregnant she-ass, as the Scripture says: 'Stay here with the ass,' -- the people who are like asses." And in the words of Maimonides in chapter 1 of The Laws of Monetary Damage, halacha 4: "[Ones' ox] that injured a pregnant maidservant and she miscarried -- [the owner of the ox] must pay for her offspring charges, for this is similar to injuring a pregnant she-ass." Likewise it appears in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, paragraph 405, section 3. (This exegesis, "A people who are like asses," appears in a number of places in the Talmud; only this example has been presented in order not to prolong the discussion).

R. The Impurity of a Gentile

Concerning the matter of impurity caused by a dead person, it is written (Numbers19:14): "This is the law: when a man dies in a tent, all that comes into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days." In Yevamot 61a, and also in Tractate Bava Metzia 114b, this beraitha appears: "Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says: Gentile cemeteries do not defile as it says, 'But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men.' You are called men, but the nations of the world [Gentiles] are not called men" ('do not defile' -- that which overshadows them -- Rashi in Yevamot). This is the wording of Maimonides, chapter 1 of The Laws of The Impurity of the Dead, halacha 13: "And a Gentile does not defile [objects within] a tent. This law is received from tradition. Behold, it says concerning the wars with Midian: 'And whoever has touched any slain' -- and it does not mention there a tent. Also, a Gentile cannot become impurified by the dead. If a Gentile touched, carried, or overshadowed a dead body, he is considered as one who had not come in contact with it. Behold, to what is this similar? -- To an animal who touched or overshadowed a dead body. Not only the impurity of the dead alone, but all impurities -- Gentiles and animals are not defiled by them." (The source for this law, that a Gentile does not become impurified, is in Tractate Nazir 61b and in Tosephta on Ohalot, chapter 1, halacha 4 [in the Vilna edition, halacha 2]: "A Gentile, an animal, a child born after eight months of gestation, clay vessels, food and liquids which came in contact with a dead body -- utensils that touched them are pure.") So agreed Nachmanides and the Rashba in their novellae on Yevamot, as did the Yere'im in paragraph 322, and the Raviyah in Hilchot Azharot HaCohanim M'tum'atan page 249 (explained also in Haga'ot Mimoniot Hilchot Evel, chapter 3 halacha 3 section 2, see there, where he states that this is also the opinion of Ritzba), and the Eshkol, end of Hilchot Tumat Cohaim. This is also the opinion of the Gaon of Vilna in Aderet Eliyahu on Chukat 19:18, and also of the Meiri in Yevamot and Bava Metzia there. However, Rabbeinu Tam determined that the Halacha does not follow Rabbi Shimon's opinion regarding the impurity of the tent as the Tosaphot has written on Yevamot there, s.v. m'maga, and in Bava Metzia there (page a), s.v. mahoo, and so the Rosh wrote in Bava Metzia, and the SM"G in negative commandment 235 -- but for our purposes this does not matter, for even according to the opinion of those who disagree, this foundation is a general one and determines the Halacha in other cases, as will be clarified further on.

S. Gentiles and the Anointing Oil

It is written in the Torah (Exodus 30:22) with regards to the prohibition of pouring the anointing oil: "Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall you make any other like it...or he who puts any of it upon a stranger shall be cut off from his people." In the Midrash HaGadol it is stated: "One who pours it on himself or on others is guilty. Is it possible that even if he poured it on an animal and utensils, and upon Gentiles who are like animals, or poured it on the dead, he is guilty? It is written: 'upon man's flesh it shall not be poured,' this excludes those whom I cannot call men." In Kritot 6b it is written: "The rabbis taught: one who pours the anointing oil on an animal or utensils is exempt, on Gentiles and the dead, exempt. It is all right about animals and utensils, as it is written: 'Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured'; animals and utensils are not men. [One who pours on the] dead is also exempt, for once one has died, he is called 'dead' and not 'man.' However, [one who pours on] Gentiles, why is he exempt? Aren't they men? It is true, as it is written: 'But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men' -- you are called 'men' and the nations of the world [Gentiles] are not called 'men'."28 In the words of Maimonides in The Laws of Holy Temple Utensils and Their Users chapter 1 halacha 6: "One who pours on utensils or on animals and Gentiles who are similar to them, or pours it on the dead, is exempt, as it says: 'upon man's flesh shall it not be poured'." We have not found anyone who disputes this halacha.

T. Animal Slaughter by a Gentile

Another example: we learn in the beginning of Mishnah Chulin: "An animal slaughtered animal by a Gentile is considered a carcass and defiles one who carries it." (Even if it was slaughtered according to the Halacha and others observe him, Rashi, Chulin 13a, s.v. shchitat nocri.) In the Tosephta there: "All are acceptable to slaughter, even a Samaritan, even an uncircumcised person, and even a man forcefully converted from Judaism. An animal slaughtered by a heretic is like an idol, an animal slaughtered by a Gentile is unfit, and an animal slaughtered by a monkey is unfit, as it says: 'And you shall slaughter and eat' -- not the slaughter of a Gentile, not the slaughter of a monkey, and not an animal that was slaughtered by accident." So the slaughter of a Gentile is not kosher because the Halacha considers him similar to an animal, and so it is explained in the words of Tosaphot, Chulin 3b s.v. k'savar: "...and their slaughter is disqualified as is that of the Gentiles from 'And you shall slaughter' -- what you slaughter you may eat. And it is you who is permitted to slaughter -- to exclude a Gentile..." Likewise wrote the Rosh in the beginning of Chulin.

However, in chapter 2 of The Laws of Other Principal Categories of Impurity, halacha 10, Maimonides brought a different reason for this law: "A Gentile's slaughter is considered a carcass... it seems to me that even this is29 from the words of the Sages, for the impurity of idol worship and the impurity of its offerings is Rabbinic, as will be explained. And because of idol worship, the Gentiles were distanced and their slaughter was forbidden." But the Ra'avad criticized him and wrote: "Abraham says: this is one of his opinions, and there is none inferior to it, for the Gentiles are like animals, they don't become impure and cannot defile, 'a people who are like asses,' 'behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket,'30 and the wind will blow them all away, and one who thinks of them as something [worthwhile] will gather the wind in his fist."31 (See further the words of Maimonides in chapter 4 of The Laws of Slaughtering halachot 11-12).32

The matters are, therefore, very clear: in the Tosephta it is plainly stated that an animal slaughtered by a Gentile is unfit for there is no difference between what he has slaughtered and what a monkey has slaughtered, and thus wrote the Rosh and the Ra'avad. Even though Maimonides wrote a different reason for this halacha, we have already clarified similar matters from the words of Maimonides in other halachot, like his reasoning concerning the abovementioned case of pouring oil of anointing. From here we see there is no discrepancy regarding the status of a Gentile in Halacha, just a difference in reasoning for this specific law.

U. Whose Members Are Like Those of Asses

Similarly, we have found in Berachot 25b: "Rav Yehuda said: it is forbidden to recite the Shema in front of a naked Gentile. But why mention a Gentile? Even in front of a naked Jew it is forbidden. [And it answers]: it is necessary to speak of 'a naked Gentile,' for one might have thought that since it is written 'Whose members are like those of asses' a Gentile is like an ass. So this statement comes to tell us that 'nakedness' is mentioned in relation to the Gentiles: "'And they saw not their father's nakedness'."33 And these are the words of Maimonides in chapter 3 of The Laws of Reciting the Shema, halacha 16: "As it is forbidden to read in front of feces and urine until one distances himself from them, so is it forbidden to read in front of nakedness until he turns aside. Even a Gentile or a minor -- it is forbidden to read in front of them while they are naked." So wrote the Tur and Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim, paragraph 74, section 4. These words speak for themselves.

And in Berachot 58a it is stated: "Rav Shila saw a Jew who had sexual relations with a Gentile woman,34 and he gave him lashes. The Jew went to inform to the king. He said to them: 'There is one Jew who judges without the permission of the king.' The king sent for him and they said: 'Why did you act in such a manner?' Rav Shila answered: 'He had relations with a she-ass.' They asked: 'Do you have a witness?' He answered: 'Yes!' Elijah appeared as a human being and testified. They said: 'If so, his punishment is death.' Rav Shila said: 'From the day we [Jews] were expelled from our land we don't have permission to enact the death penalty. You, however, whatever you wish to do with him, do.' As they were consulting on the matter, Rav Shila said: 'Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty.' They asked him: 'What did you say?' He answered: 'This is what I said: blessed is the Merciful One who places kingdoms on earth similar to the kingdom of heaven, and has given you governing powers and mercy in your rulings [that you love justice -- Rashi]. They said to him: 'Since you think so highly of us, we will allow you the permission to judge.' [They gave him a stick to give lashes -- Rashi.] When he was about to leave, that Jew asked him: 'Does G-d perform miracles for liars?' Rav Shila answered: "Wicked one! Didn't I tell the truth? Aren't they called asses? As it is written: 'whose members are like those of asses'."

And the Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot chapter 3 halacha 4, states: "It happened once that a man attempted to have sexual relations with the maid-servant of Rabbi [a Gentile maidservant -- Toldot Yitzhak]. She said to him: "if my mistress does not immerse [in the mikveh], I do not immerse" [for I go together with my mistress to immerse, and she has not yet gone and therefore I am a niddah -- ibid.]. He said to her: aren't you similar to an animal? ['a nation who are like asses' -- why must you immerse -- ibid.] She said to him: haven't you heard that one who has relations with an animal is stoned to death? As it says: 'Anyone who lies with an animal shall surely be put to death'."


What arises from all the aforementioned is that in the words of the Prophets, and also in the words of our Sages OBM, the Gentiles are thought of as animals. Even so, it clearly does not mean that they are actually treated as animals, and there are distinctions between Gentiles and animals, for we have already seen that the Halacha deems stealing from a Gentile to be forbidden by the Torah's law, while it is clear that stealing from a beast is not considered stealing. Likewise the Mechilta says that judgement of one who intentionally kills a Gentile is given to Heaven and, of course, this is not the case regarding an animal. Also, the Gentiles were commanded to fulfill the Seven Commandments of the sons of Noah -- in contrast, of course, to animals. Nevertheless, we have seen that the status of the Gentiles in Halacha is similar to that of animals in many respects, and generally speaking, there is no real distinctions made between them (further on we will expand slightly this on deep concept).

2. Between the Jews and the Gentiles -- In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought

23See the glosses of the Gaon of Vilna here and the glosses of the Bach on Yevamot 45b; however in The Rulings of the Rid it appears as in the printed edition.back to text
24So does it appear in the Rid there, and in chapter 1 of The Laws of Kings halacha 4, thus it even appears in the printed edition of Tractate Yevamot 45b; however here it mistakenly appears in the printed edition as "it will not be."back to text
25So it appears in the manuscripts and in Midrash HaGadol. In printed editions "and not to the father of the woman convert" appears, having the same connotation.back to text
26Thus is the wording in the precise manuscripts, see Dikdukei Sofrim; in printed editions it appears with slight changes, mostly abridgements of the verses.back to text
27In the common printed editions of the Tur, the matter of the houses of Gentiles appears with errors, while the matter of their cemeteries is deleted. In the common printed editions of the Shulchan Aruch both laws appear, but 'the nations of the world' is changed to 'worshippers of the stars and zodiac,' as usual. In the version of the Shulchan Aruch that appears in the Mishnah Berurah these laws are deleted completely.back to text
28See the discussion in the Gemara where some questions are asked on this explanation, and after the questions are answered, the Gemara adds: "It may also be learned according to the Tanna who learned it before Rabbi Elazar: anyone who is included in 'pour[ing]' is included in the prohibition of pouring, and anyone who is not included in 'pour[ing]' is not included in the prohibition of pouring." It is clear that this additional answer is just that, an additional answer, and the first explanation stands.back to text
29In the Rome edition: "...that this principal category is from the words of the Sages..."back to text
30Isaiah 40:15. See there in the commentaries.back to text
31One who searches for these words in the Vilna edition will search in vain, for they were completely deleted by the censor; however a 'remembrance of the destruction' of the Ra'avad's glosses are to be found in the Kesef Mishneh, see there. I have the glosses which appear in the Alumot edition of Mishneh Torah, which recently was re-printed by Eshkol Publications.back to text
32Different explanations were written to clarify Maimonides opinion, but this is not the place to discuss them.back to text
33This is the wording in The Rulings of the Rid, in the precise manuscripts and in other versions. See Dikdukei Sofrim; in the printed versions it appears with slight differences.back to text
34In the printed version 'an Egyptian woman' -- and in this entire section many changes were made.back to text