Thursday, April 19, 2007


Rabbi Ami said: One is forbidden from teaching Torah to a non-Jew. This is derived from the verse [Tehillim 147: 19 – 20]: He declared His word unto Yaakov, His statutes and ordinances unto Israel. He has not done so with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.

Tosfos asks: The Gemora in Sanhedrin (59a) states explicitly that a non-Jew who studies Torah is liable for death; accordingly, one should be forbidden to teach him Torah because he is transgressing the prohibition against placing a stumbling block in front of a blind man? The idolater cannot study Torah, so the Jew should not be able to teach him Torah, why is this new verse necessary?

Tosfos states: The gentile is permitted to study the seven Noahide laws as the Gemora Sanhedrin (ibid) states: Rabbi Meir said: A gentile who engages in the study of Torah is like a Kohen Gadol and the Gemora explains that this is referring to the seven laws which are incumbent upon him to adhere to. A Jew has an obligation to teach him these halachos.

Tosfos answers: Our Gemora is referring to a case where the idolater has another idolater who is willing to teach him Torah and therefore there would be no prohibition (based on the Gemora in Sanhedrin) of teaching him Torah; our Gemora teaches us that nevertheless, a Jew is forbidden from teaching a non-Jew Torah.

The Meor Veshemesh (Parshas Chukas) writes that it is permitted to teach the Written Law to an idolater as we find that Moshe wrote the Torah in seventy languages. The prohibition of teaching Torah to a gentile applies only to the Oral Law.

The Divrei Chaim (Chanukah) rules similarly: The Torah was written on the stones and the nations of the world copied it over. The Medrash states that the Holy One, Blessed is He did not protest and allowed them to study the Written Law. It is forbidden to teach them even one word of the Oral Law.

There are many commentators who disagree with this vehemently and they maintain that it is evident from many sources that it is even forbidden to teach the Written Law to a non-Jew.

In the sefer, Beis Pinchas (I P. 169) from Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz, he writes that all are in agreement that it is forbidden to teach even the Written Law to a non-Jew; the aforementioned commentators are merely stating that we are not obligated to protest and prevent a non-Jew from studying the Written Law. This is derived from the Medrash which stated that Hashem allowed the idolaters to copy over the Written Law. It is incumbent on us, however, to ensure that the gentiles do not study the Oral Law.

This explanation is seemingly inconsistent with a ruling issued by Reb Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe (Y”D II: 132): He states that it is forbidden to directly teach Torah to a gentile; however, if he happens to be in the room when one is teaching Torah to other Jews, the teacher is permitted to continue teaching Torah since it is not his intention to teach the gentile.

If there is an obligation to ensure that the gentile does not study the Oral Law, it should follow that one would be compelled to cease his discourse and wait for the non-Jew to leave before continuing with the teaching of Torah.