QUESTION: The Gemara explains that the source for performing Milah for a Ger
is the Milah that our ancestors performed when they left Mitzrayim.
Although we find in Parashas Bo that the Jewish people performed Milah when
they left Mitzrayim (Kerisus 9a), that was a specific commandment to perform
Milah in order to eat the Korban Pesach, since an uncircumcised person cannot
eat the Korban Pesach. Where, though, do we find that they performed Milah in
order to become Gerim? (RAMBAN)
ANSWER: The RAMBAN and RASHBA explain that the Milah the Jewish people did in
Mitzrayim was not just for eating the Korban Pesach, but they did it because
Moshe Rabeinu told them to do so in order to be accept upon themselves the
Torah and to be "Nichnas Tachas Kanfei ha'Shechinah" -- to become the nation
of Hashem. That is what the Midrash means when it says that at the time of
Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, the Jews were lacking Mitzvos, and therefore Hashem gave
them two Mitzvos to perform -- Milah and the Korban Pesach. The Midrash means
that Hashem gave them these Mitzvos in order to become His chosen nation.
However, we find that not everyone in Mitzrayim had to have a Milah in order
to eat the Pesach. True, most of the Jews had abandoned the Mitzvah of Milah
until the night they left Egypt. But the Torah says that the tribe of Levi
always observed the Mitzvah of Milah (Devarim 33:9), and the RAMBAM (Hilchos
Isurei Bi'ah 13:2) explains that this means that even in Mitzrayim they kept
the Mitzvah of Milah. If so, they did not need to do Milah when they
departed. Where do we find that *they* have a Milah for Gerus? When they did
Milah, it was the normal Milah for the sake of the Mitzvah of Avraham Avinu,
and not for the sake of becoming Gerim!
(a) The RAMBAN and RASHBA suggest first that the men of Levi were "Matif Dam
Bris," let some blood from the place of their Milah, for the purpose Gerus.
The Gemara understands the verses to mean that *every* man who left Mitzrayim
had some sort of Milah done to them, so the men of Levi must have had Hatafas
Dam Bris done to them as well.
(b) The RAMBAN suggests further that perhaps the tribe of Levi did not need
Milah again, because their original Milah was done to fulfill the Mitzvah
that Hashem commanded.
The Ramban seems to hold that a person who already had Milah done to him is
like a person who cannot have Milah. If a person was born deformed or the
like, he can still become a Ger and he does not need Milah (as Tosfos says on
46b, DH d'Rebbi Yosi). Similarly, if Milah was already done to him, then it
is not possible to do Milah again to him, for the sake of Gerus. The Milah of
Gerus is not a new Mitzvah per se, but rather there is a Mitzvah to perform
*the Mitzvah of Milah& on him for the sake of Gerus. If the Mitzvah of Milah
was already done to him, it cannot be done again for conversion purposes!
Therefore, it is impossible to do a Milah for the sake of Gerus on him, and
because it is impossible, the lack of Milah (for Gerus) does not prevent him
from becoming a Ger.
(c) TOSFOS (46b, DH d'Rebbi Yosi) quotes RACH who rules that, even today, any
Nochri who comes to convert and already has a Milah does not need Hatafas Dam
Bris in order to become a Ger. He seems to hold that even though their Milah
was entirely secular, since it cannot be physically be done again for Gerus,
he does not need a Milah for Gerus. Even though other Rishonim hold that
Hatafas Dam Bris comes in place of Milah. Rabeinu Chananel seems to argue. He
maintains that it is done only for a child born with a Milah; since that was
the way he was born, there is a different form of Milah for him -- Hatafas
Dam Bris. For one who was born normal, the only valid form of Milah is the
removal of the Orlah, and since he had his Orlah removed already, he cannot
have another Milah. (See Insights to Shabbos 135:2.) This would also answer
why the tribe of Levi did not need a new Milah for Gerus.