From the Rav’s Desk: 1) Convert keeping Yartzite for Jewish father; 2) Mentioning to convert that he is a convert

  1. Question: [Monday, 27th Teves 5781]

Dear Rabbi, I am a convert, but my father was Jewish and would like to know whether I should keep the Yartzeit of my father as well as whether I receive precedence to lead the prayer for the Amud over somebody who is within the year of mourning. Basically, we only have a single minyan available and the person who is within his year of mourning for his mother generally leads the prayers, although he gives it up for anyone who has a Yartzeit, and I would like to know if I receive the same status? 



Being that you are a righteous convert, therefore from the letter of the law you are not obligated to keep the Yartzite customs for your biological Jewish father. Nonetheless, you may do so if you choose and so is recommended. Thus, you should keep the regular Yartzite customs. However, you cannot differ somebody else from his rights to the Amud during his year of mourning for his parent, although if the person agrees he may forgo that right on your behalf, if he chooses.

Explanation: A convert is considered to not have any halachic relations including regarding the laws of mourning, and therefore from the letter of the law is not obligated to mourn his parents. This applies even if his father was Jewish. Nonetheless, certainly he may choose to do so just like any Jew may take upon himself to say Kaddish on behalf of another Jew. However, obviously he cannot override somebody else who was an actual Chiyuv.

Sources: See regarding a convert not mourning his relatives: Michaber and Rama Y.D. 374:5; Shach 374:4; See regarding the laws of precedence: Kiryas Chana 35, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 376:7; Beis Hillel 376 that so is implied from Rama ibid and Maharik Shoresh 44; Chasam Sofer 345, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 376:7

  1. Question: [Monday, 27th Teves 5781]

Is it permitted for one to mention regarding a person who is a convert that he is a convert? Is this considered Ona’as Devarim, to be oppressing another Jew especially a convert?



It depends on the situation and on the intent. In general, there is nothing wrong with mentioning regarding a person who converted that he is a convert, and we thus find in the Talmud and other Jewish literature the mentioning of certain individuals as converts, and certainly they were not guilty of oppressing a convert by doing so. Furthermore, it is important for a women’s conversion lineage to be known for purposes of marriage, so she does not marry a Kohen and the like. However, if one’s intent in mentioning the person’s conversion status is to belittle him in any way then obviously this is forbidden due to Onas Devarim. Thus, for example, if you disagree with an opinion of a convert on a certain Jewish matter and you tell him that you’re just a convert and therefore your opinion is less worthy, then certainly one would transgress. Likewise, in a situation that you assess that the convert may be offended by you mentioning it in front of him then certainly you should not do so.

Sources: See Admur Hilchos Onah 28 “What is considered oppressing words?… With intent to embarrass him…. It goes without saying that if he mentions disparaging words of his past such as to mention to a Baal Teshuvah “remember your original ways” and if he is the son of a convert don’t say to him “remember the actions of your ancestors”; Michaber C.M. 228:4; Mishneh Shabbos 88b

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