Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Rambam (Issurei Bi’ah 14:2) writes that we inform the prospective convert the essentials of the faith, which is the unity of God and the prohibition of idolatry, and they go on at great length about these matters.

The Machaneh Chaim ((Y”D II, 45) asks: Why isn’t this forbidden on account of a gentile studying Torah? The Gemora in Sanhedrin (59a) states explicitly that a non-Jew who studies Torah is liable for death.

He answers by citing a Medrash Tanchuma in Parshas Vayelech: The numerical value of Torah is six hundred and eleven. The remaining two mitzvos which complete the six hundred and thirteen are the two mitzvos which were given by Hashem directly at Har Sinai. This is the explanation of the verse: The Torah that Moshe commanded us to observe. Moshe instructed us regarding six hundred and eleven mitzvos; the other two were from Hashem.

The prohibition against teaching an idolater Torah is only applicable to the six hundred and eleven mitzvos that Moshe taught us. The other two, I am Hashem your God and the Unity of God; one would be permitted to teach to them. This is where the Rambam derived his ruling from; we can go on with great length discussing the unity of God and the prohibition of idolatry.

The Maharsha (Shabbos 31a) writes that it is permitted to teach Torah to an idolater who wishes to convert. He proves this from the incident with Hillel and the convert.

Reb Akiva Eiger (41) disagrees and maintains that it is forbidden to teach Torah to an idolater even if he is planning on converting. Hillel taught the convert Torah only after he converted.


Anonymous said...

Tosfos Yeshanim later on 48b cites two opinions if a goy on the path to geirus is allowed to keep shabbos while he is planning to become a ger. is this shaila connected?

Anonymous said...

a better proof for the Maharsha would be from Rus, although Naomi didn't actually teach her Torah. What Torah did Hillel teach the potential ger? love your neighbor? that's not necessarily teaching Torah. It's just Torah shebiksav which seems to be the issur.

Avromi said...

Rus like you said is not a proof because that is mitzvos, not Torah.

Big discussion if Hillel taught him Torah before the geirus or afterwards, but discussing Torah there.

Avromi said...

Regarding Torah shebiksav vs. ba'al peh, here is some info:

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.

Anonymous said...

It's just Torah shebiksav which seems to be the issur.

Just to clarify, I meant Torah shebaal peh, like the tzadikim quoted. Any idea who are those commentators who forbid even Torah shebiksav? In Chagigah it says mili, yet derives from surpasses mishpatim baal yidaum.

By the way, related to Parshas Chukas, why does it say magid devarav liYaakov chukav umishpatav liYisroel, mentioning both chukim and then Mishpatim, and then it says lo asah chein lechol goy umishpatim baal yidaum, and does not mention chukim. Interestingly enough, Rashi in the beginning of this week’s parashah says that the goyim agitate us regarding the chukim. Seems like they learn the chukim.

Need to look in mefarshim in Tehillim and elsewhere

Anonymous said...

Medrash (quoted in Daas Zekanim MiBaalei HaTosafos Shemos 21:1) states that when Onkelos wanted to convert, the Chachamim told him that words of Torah can only be fulfilled by one who circumcises. Does that mean just circumcision or complete geirus?

Avromi said...

geirus probably, just like in our Gemora many times.

shoel umeishiv, Shalah and Maharshal assur even Torah shebiksav.

Anonymous said...

Netziv in Vayikra 18:5 says explicitly that a goy can learn Torah shebiksav, brings passuk of magid devarav liYaakov, and cites story with Onkelos as proof. Elaborates on different pessukim that state chukim and mishpatim. worth reading.

Anonymous said...

seems like Netziv learns that milah means geirus. Yet, he writes that Onkelos learned mikra while still a goy. Not sure where he sees that from.

Anonymous said...

I see Shelah is following Zohar that does not allow one to teach goy Torah at all.