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I love Ger Toshav.


For many years, I have viewed the term “Ger Toshav” with some animosity. Why? Because the term Ger Toshav does not exist in the Torah. And because there are other perfectly good terms that do exist in the Torah, namely Ger (without the Toshav) and Gercha asher b’Sha’arecha, the Ger in your gates. So why make up a new term when the old term will exist unto eternity because it is the Torah, whereas the new term will cease to exist one day because it is created by human agency and is therefore mortal. Being no stranger to conspiratorial thinking, I smelled a hulda. And not the prophetess, but the dreadful creature that our cat, Doofus, brought us as a present the other day. And I wondered and wondered…why Ger Toshav, other than to confuse the truth? Today, the light dawned. Even though Ger Toshav is a legal fiction, an entity that exists only by virtue of the man made rules of its existence (that is a good definition of halacha in general), those rules are the Ger Toshav’s value and greatness. It gives the person a structured identity. And this is essential because the Ger and the Ger in the gate have been ignored and forgotten for so many years, thousands of years, that they have a vague identity. This one eats traif meat and that one could be a Jew, or he could be a righteous Gentile, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe whatever. That is way too much freedom to handle overnight. You cannot ascend from the pit and come to the Torah in ten seconds. A person must shed his old garments before he can put on new garments, and it takes a little time. Without clear definition, the righteous Gentile is hefker, abandoned. Ger Toshav gives him definition and identity, and it is a great and dynamic identity. A Ger Toshav is a Gentile who has the halachic right to live in the land of Israel as a permanent resident. And he gets all the perks attendant to that status. Interestingly, there is such a category today in the laws of the State of Israel. My friend Ronnie Yeshurun, alav hashalom, the graphics designer of our book, The Messianic Temple, and a direct descendant of the Arizal, held dual citizenships, he was a Cypriot and a Brit. He lived all his adult life in Israel, but he did not have Israeli citizenship. He had the status of a permanent resident and he lived in Israel for his length of days. Of course, he was a Jew. But there might be something here for the Ger Toshav of today. And it occurs to me that the Ger Toshav and the Ezrach, born Jew, have one more thing in common — most do not appreciate how really important it is to live in the Land of Israel. Just think of the song, Dayenu that we sing at the Pesach Seder, fifteen steps of Hashem’s kindness. We said, “Dayenu…it is enough kindness for us.” Hashem said, “It is not enough for Me. I want to give you more.” And each of those fifteen ascents in Chesed is higher than the previous one. And He gave us the Torah. Dayenu. And He brought us into the land. Dayenu. And He built the Holy Temple for us. Dayenu. It is patently obvious from the Passover Haggadah that living in Israel is greater than receiving the Torah, and the Holy Temple is greater than both of them, and there is no greater kindness. The Holy Temple is the end of the song and the song never ends.

Here the Ger and the Ezrach are also on the same page. The Bet HaMikdash is everything. The Levite understands this. It is in his soul. It is also in the soul of the Gercha asher b’Sha’arecha, who comes to hear the king read the Torah in the year of Hakhel (Deut. 31:12). 

And from this, we can see the matter with clarity. The default Noahide is the stepping stone for the Ger Toshav and the Ger Toshav is the stepping stone for the Ger in the gate. And the Ger in the gate is synonymous with the Nilveh because they are both defined by Shabbat, one in the Ten Commandments and another in the Book of Isaiah. They are both defined by Shabbat. I would say that is wondrous and amazing, a people defined by Shabbat. Be mitbonen (meditate) on that. And, believe it or not, there are actually rabbis with a few of their mental faculties still intact who would deny the right of a righteous Gentile to be shomer Shabbat. Well, I got news for you dollink, the righteous Gentile does not need your permission. You have no power over him. He is in the Bet HaMikdash with the Levite and the King. They are his protectors. And their Protector is also his Protector, the One who rests between the wings of the Keruvim atop the Holy Ark. Now, who are you? I didn’t catch your name. Rabbi Who?

Chaim Clorfene