Gentiles learning Torah-May one teach Torah to a gentile

May one teach Torah to gentiles?[1]

It is [Biblically[2]] forbidden for a gentile to learn Torah, and a gentile who does so is liable for death [in the hands of heaven[3]].[4] It is likewise forbidden to teach a gentile Torah.[5] One who does so, transgresses a positive command[6], and possibly also transgresses a negative command.[7] [However, some Poskim[8] learn the prohibition of a gentile learning Torah is only Rabbinical. One who has ability to stop a gentile from learning Torah is obligated to do so.[9]]  

Seven Nohadite laws:[10] It is permitted for a gentile to study the details of the seven Nohadite laws, and one who does so is [to be honored[11]] like a Kohen Gadol. [It is likewise permitted for a Jew to teach a gentile the seven Nohadite laws, and it is even a Mitzvah to do so.[12] Accordingly, even a gentile contains a Mitzvah and positive command of learning the sections of Torah that discuss the seven Nohadite laws. He is obligated to study the subject not just for the sake of knowing the law, but also for the sake of fulfilling the Mitzvah of learning Torah.[13] He may hence delve deeply into the subjects in the form of Pilpul, and a gentile who does so is to be honored like a Kohen Gadol.[14]]

 

Summary:

It is forbidden for a gentile to learn Torah, and it is thus forbidden for a Jew to teach Torah to a gentile, with exception to the seven Nohadite laws which may be taught to a gentile and it is a Mitzvah to do so.

 

Q&A

May one teach a gentile Torah for the sake of peace?

It is forbidden to teach them Torah even for the sake of peace [unless refraining from doing so can cause danger to oneself or the community[15]].[16] However, some Poskim[17] are lenient to permit teaching Torah to a gentile who desires to learn, for the sake of keeping the peace, and not spreading enmity.

 

May one answer the Torah question of a gentile?[18]

Some Poskim learn it is forbidden to do so, unless it is necessary for the sake of peace.

 

What topics of Torah are forbidden for a gentile to study and be taught by a Jew?

The written Torah: Some Poskim[19] rule the above prohibition only applies to the oral Torah, however the written Torah may be studied by gentiles, and may be taught to gentiles.[20] Other Poskim[21] however rule that gentiles may not study even the written Torah.

The oral Torah: Some[22] explain it is permitted to teach gentiles the Mitzvos and it is only forbidden to teach them the reasons and mystical meaning behind them. Practically, we do not rule like this opinion, and it is therefore forbidden for a gentile to learn, or be taught any of the Mitzvos or details of the Oral law.[23]

Agadata/Midrash:[24] It is forbidden to teach gentiles the topics of Midrash and Agadata.

 

May one teach Torah to a gentile who is in the process of conversion?

Sections of Torah that a gentile must know before conversion: Prior to conversion, a gentile must be taught certain laws of the Torah and willingly accept to fulfil all the Torah and Mitzvos.[25] [However, some Poskim[26] learn that one may only teach a gentile the above subjects if the conversion is possible and probable within one’s country.]

Other sections of Torah: Some Poskim[27] rule it is permitted to teach Torah without limitation to a gentile who is in the process of conversion. Furthermore, in such a case the gentile fulfills a Mitzvah of learning Torah.[28] Other Poskim[29] however rule it is forbidden to teach Torah to a gentile, even if he is in the process of conversion.

 

May one teach Torah to a gentile if he is interested in the truth and may come to convert, but currently does not plan on converting?

Some Poskim[30] rule it is permitted to do so. However, from other Poskim[31] it is evident that one may not do so if the gentile is not actively interested in converting. Thus, one cannot teach Torah to a child of a Jewish father and gentile mother on the anticipation that it may one day lead him to convert.

 

May one teach Torah to Jews if a gentile is present?[32]

Yes. There is no prohibition in teaching Torah to Jews even if a gentile is present and will also hear and learn, so long as one has no intent to teach the gentile. Certainly, one may not invite the gentile to the class, encourage his attendance or address his questions.

 

May a Jewish school or program allow non-Jewish children, such as children with Jewish father’s and gentile mothers, attend classes?[33]

No. In addition to the prohibition of teaching the gentile Torah, it can lead to assimilation. [If, however, the school is not legally able to refrain from accepting such students, and must allow them to attend by force, then they are not required to shut down the school or program due to this.[34]]

 

May one upload Torah articles and videos to the internet, and publish Torah books in English, even though gentiles will be able to read it and learn it?[35]

Yes.

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[1] See article of Rav Chaim Rappaport, printed in Shut Rabbanei Europe for a full analysis on this subject

[2] Implication of Sanhedrin 59a and Ran there; See Lechem Mishneh on Rambam Melachim 10:9 who implies the actual prohibition is Biblical, and falls under the seven Nohadite laws, although the punishment of death is Rabbinical.

Other opinions: Some Poskim[2] imply that the prohibition of a gentile learning Torah is only Rabbinical. [See Kesef Mishneh on Rambam ibid that the verse is a mere Asmachta, hence implying that the entire prohibition is only Rabbinical]

[3] Kesef Mishneh in explanation of Rambam Melachim 10:9 who writes “He is liable for death but is not killed”; See Lechem Mishneh on Rambam Melachim 10:9 who writes he is only Rabbinically liable for death

[4] Rebbe Yochanon Sanhedrin 59a; Rambam Melachim 10:9; Responsa of Rambam in Makitzei Nirdamim 364

The reason: As the Torah states “Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha” from which we learn that the Torah is an inheritance to us and not to the gentiles. A gentile who learns Torah transgresses the prohibition of stealing. Alternatively, the Gemara states, he transgresses the prohibition of adultery. It is for this reason that the prohibition of a gentile learning Torah is not listed as a separate one law of the 7 Nohadite laws. [Sanhedrin ibid]

[5] Rebbe Ami Chagiga 13a; Michaber 267:71 regarding a slave, and certainly this would apply even more so to a gentile; Ritva Bava Basra 21a; Rashal in Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama 4:9; Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:132; 3:89-90; Shevet Halevi 10:32; Igros Kodesh 22:142 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:82]; Some Achronim question however why this law was not recorded in Shulchan Aruch. See Likkutei Sichos 14:38; 27:246 in footnote.

The reason: As the verse states “Lo Asa Chein Lechol Goy, Umishpatim Baal Yedaum Haleluka/And you shall not do this to any nation.” [Rebbe Ami ibid] This is in addition to the Biblical prohibition of Lifnei Iver. Thus, even in a case that Lifnei Iver does not apply, such as if the gentile could anyways be taught Torah from another source, it is nevertheless forbidden to teach a gentile Torah. [Tosafus Chagiga ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that according to the reason of the Gemara that the prohibition of a gentile studying Torah is due to stealing, one may willingly decide to teach Torah to a gentile. According to this approach, the opinion of Rebbe Ami in Chagiga ibid is following the 2nd reason in the Gemara Sanhedrin. [Turei Even Chagiga ibid, brought in Igros Moshe 3:90] Other Poskim suggest that perhaps the prohibition against teaching Torah to a gentile only applies if the gentile learns Torah for the sake of innovating a new religion, and not if the gentile simply desires to attain knowledge of the Jewish religion. [Seridei Eish 2:55-56 in understanding of Rambam] However, from Tosafus Chagiga ibid, it is evident that the prohibition applies in all cases.

[6] Tosafus Bava Kama 38a

[7] See Tosafus Chagiga ibid, brought in previous footnotes, regarding Lifnei Iver; See Rab Sanhedrin 58b

[8] See Kesef Mishneh on Rambam ibid that the verse is a mere Asmachta, hence implying that the entire prohibition is only Rabbinical

[9] Responsa of Rambam in Makitzei Nirdamim 364

[10] Rebbe Meir Sanhedrin 59a

[11] Meiri Sanhedrin ibid; Likkutei Sichos ibid

[12] Tosafus Chagiga 13a; Igros Moshe Y.D 3:90 that so is the final ruling; Likkutei Sichos 14:38; 27:246 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 4:66] Igros Kodesh 22:142 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:82]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden for a Jew to teach a gentile the seven Nohadite laws. [Hagahos Habach Chagiga ibid; Iyun Yaakov Chagiga ibid]

[13] Likkutei Sichos 14:38; 27:246 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 4:66] based on Meiri Sanhedrin ibid who explains the gentile who learns not just for the sake of observing the laws, but also for the sake of having in depth knowledge of the Mitzvos, is like a Kohen Gadol; See Machaneh Chaim 1:7; Sifri Korach 18:19 “A Ben Noach can merit Keser Torah”

The reason this Mitzvah was not listed as part of the seven Nohadite laws: As only the negative commands are listed, as opposed to positive commands. [Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[14] Meiri Sanhedrin ibid; Machaneh Chaim 1:7; Implication of Rambam in Peir Hador 364; Likkutei Sichos 14:38; 27:246 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 4:66]; Sifri Korach 18:19 “A Ben Noach can merit Keser Torah”

Other opinions: Some write that a gentile may not be taught the depth and reasons even behind the seven Nohadite laws. [Maharsha Chagiga ibid]

[15] See Tosafus Bava Kama 38a; Igros Moshe 3:89

[16] Ritva Bava Basra 21a; Rashal in Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama 4:9; Yad Eliyahu 48

[17] Seridei Eish 2:55 based on Rama Y.D. 291:2 who permits giving a Mezuzah to a gentile in such a case; See Mishneh Halachos 13:7; Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:17

[18] See Yad Eliyahu 48 that although we find in the Talmud many cases where the Sages answered the Torah questions of gentiles, perhaps that was done for the sake of Kiddush Hashem

[19] Yehuda Yaaleh 4 in gloss of son of author; Mahritz Chayos Chagiga ibid; Netziv in Meishiv Davar 2:77 and Haeimek Davar on Vayikra AchareiIgros Moshe Y.D. 3:90

[20] The reason: As Hashem commanded Moshe to translate the Torah to seventy languages. [Poskim ibid]

[21] Seridei Eish 2:55; Mishneh Halachos 13:107; Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:17

[22] Maharsha Chagiga ibid; Responsa of Rambam in Makitzei Nirdamim 364 allows teaching Christians the laws of the Torah as there is possibility that they will accept them

[23] Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:90 based on Tosafus Bava Kama ibid

[24] Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:90

[25] Michaber Y.D. 268:2 that a gentile must be taught some of the light Mitzvos and some of the severe Mitzvos; Braisa Yevamos 46a

[26] Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:90 in understanding of Rav Akiva Eiger Kama 41

[27] Meiri Beis Habechira Sanhedrin 59; Maharsha Shabbos 31a; Responsa of Rambam in Makitzei Nirdamim 364 permits teaching Christians due to chance they may do Teshuvah; Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:90; Likkutei Sichos 14:38; 27:246 in footnote brings the opinion of Maharsha and Rav Akiva Eiger on this matter, however the Rebbe seems to accept the ruling of the Maharsha, as since the convert is obligated to observe the entire Torah after converting, its understood that before the conversion he must according to Torah learn all the relevant Halachos.

[28] Likkutei Sichos ibid

[29] Seder Mishneh on Rambam 2:2; Rav Akiva Eiger Kama 41 who prohibits teaching the gentile who plans to convert Mikra and Seder Hatefila; [See however Igros Moshe 3:90 who wonders at his ruling and concludes that even Rav Akiva Eiger agrees that this prohibition only applies if the gentile is not currently able to convert in the country that he is in, and hence his conversion is a mere doubt; See article of Rav Chaim Rappaport, printed in Shut Rabbanei Europe for a full analysis on this subject]

[30] Responsa of Rambam in Makitzei Nirdamim 364 permits teaching Christians due to chance they may do Teshuvah; Meiri Beis Habechira Sanhedrin 59; Seridei Eish 56; Yabia Omer 2:17

[31] Igros Kodesh 22:142 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:82]; See article of Rav Chaim Rappaport, printed in Shut Rabbanei Europe for a full analysis on this subject

[32] Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:132; 3:90; See article of Rav Chaim Rappaport, printed in Shut Rabbanei Europe for a full analysis on this subject

[33] Shevet Halevi 10:32; Igros Kodesh 22:142 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:82]

[34] See Igros Moshe in previous Halacha

[35] Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:38 based on the fact the Rishonim, such as the Rambam, printed their books in the language of the country; See also Igros Moshe 3:90; See article of Rav Chaim Rappaport, printed in Shut Rabbanei Europe who questions the assertion of the Igros Moshe, as in truth the Rishonim wrote their books in Ashuris.

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