Acceptance of the Yoke of the Commandments

Kabbalat ol ha-mitzvot (acceptance of the commandments) combines faith and action with an intent to evolve as a practicing Jew.

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At first, it may seem highly unlikely that a convert would stipulate in advance that he rejects one specific commandment. But that problem does occur, and can cause great consternation, as in the following example: A kohen who, as a descendant of the priestly family, has both privileges and constraints, wishes to marry a convert. The gentile woman sincerely wishes to convert to Judaism, but only with the qualification that after conversion she will be permitted to marry the kohen. According to the halakhah, that would entail accepting the entire halakhah with one exception--the halakhah that kohanim may not marry even properly converted women. The rejection of this one mitzvah may invalidate the entire conversion.

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Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Maurice Lamm is the author of many books, including The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. He is the president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice, and Professor at Yeshiva University's Rabbinical Seminary in New York, where he holds the chair in Professional Rabbinics. For years he served as rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation, Beverly Hills, CA.