The biblical word Ger means a stranger, a temporary resident or pilgrim in their own land. When the Torah teaches us to be compassionate towards the Ger, it refers to non-residents and strangers, in the past they were the non-Israelites who had renounced idolatry and accepted the seven laws of Noah, understood as the basis of the Commandments. The Jews are therefore called upon to be sensitive to foreigners, and therefore to refugees, having been for many years foreigners and under the harsh yoke of the Eizians.

When Abraham sought to bury Sarah, he appealed to the Hittites, who then ruled the land near Hebron. He said to them, “I am a Ger and a resident among you.” Rashi reads this verse as Abraham’s admission of his complete vulnerability in the face of the Hittites, humbly deferring to their decision, succeeding in burying Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah opposite Mamre, i.e. Hebron, in the land of Canaan. 

An example of Ger in Deuteronomy

18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner [ger] residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigner [ger], for you yourselves were foreigners [gerim] in Egypt.
(Deut 10, 18-19)


Ger toshav

Ger toshav (Hebrew: גר תושב, Ger: “foreigner” or “alien” + toshav: “resident”, lit. “resident alien”) is a halakhic term used in Judaism to designate the legal status of a gentile (non-Jew) living in the Land of Israel who does not wish to convert to Judaism but who agrees to observe the Seven Laws of Noah, a set of imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by GOD as a binding set of universal moral laws for the “sons of Noah” – i.e., all of humanity. A Ger toshav is thus commonly considered a “Righteous Gentile” (Hebrew: חסיד אומות העולם, Chassid Umot ha-Olam: “Pious people of the world”), and is assured a place in the World to Come (Olam Ha-Ba).

The seven commandments of Noah’s Covenant to which the Ger toshav agrees to be bound are enumerated in the Babylonian Talmud (Avodah Zarah 8:4, Sanhedrin 56a-b):

  1. Do not worship idols.
  2. Do not curse GOD.
  3. Do not kill.
  4. Do not commit adultery, bestiality or sexual immorality.
  5. Do not steal.
  6. Do not eat meat taken from a live animal.
  7. Establish courts of justice.

The Encyclopedia Talmudit, edited by Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, states that after the delivery of the Torah, the Jewish people were no longer included in the category of Noah’s children; however, Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot M’lakhim 9, 1) indicates that the seven commandments are also part of the Torah, and the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 59a, see also Tosafot ad. loc.) states that Jews are obligated in all things in which Gentiles are obligated, albeit with some differences in the details.



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