Maimonides’ famous Responsa on “Converting for the sake of marriage”

Maimonides once wrote in his Responsa about a certain Jewish man who was living with a non-Jewish maid-servant. The man was suspected of having a sexual liaison with this woman.  The Beit Din found out about this–what was the man to do? Remove the woman from his house?

In response to this question, the Rambam stated that technically according to the law, the woman should be forced out–period. After it learned of his wrongdoings, the beit din was required to exert all its power to have the Jewish master free her and then marry her. However, the Talmud tells us that if a Jewish man has an immoral affair with a gentile woman, he must free her and not marry her (Yevamot 24b).   Maimonides  arrives at a different conclusion from the Talmud and judged in such cases that the man should free her and marry the maid.

What is the reason given by Maimonides?

“Such a position,” maintained Maimonides, “is Halachicly warranted since it is necessary to make things easier for repentents  (Takanat HaShavim).” Maimonides then cites the verse: “It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.” (Psa 119:126). In other words, there are times when it is necessary to relax the halacha for the greater good of the Jewish people. The Rambam concludes “May the Lord forgive us of our sins.”

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