Monday, October 23, 2006

What did they learn in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever?

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 59a tells us that a גוי who learns Torah is חייב מיתה. If so what were they allowed to learn in Shem and Ever's yeshiva?

The Rambam quotes this halacha in Hilchos Melachim Perek 10. The Chasam Sofer points out that the Rambam in the other halachos writes בן נח, by Torah he writes גוי. The Chasam Sofer claims that the Rambam holds that the issur to learn torah only applies to an עובד עבודה זרה, however a בן נוח is allowed to learn torah. If so, this answers the question on Shem and Ever's yeshiva they were not עובד עבודה זרה and were therefore were allowed to learn Torah.

The פשטות is not like the Chasam Sofer and the issur would apply to all non-Jews. However, they are still allowed to learn the ז' מצות בני נח and anything related to them. Therefore we need to say that they learned the ז' מצות בני נח in Shem and Ever's yeshiva and not all of Torah.

The Gemara in Chagiga 13a says that אין מוסרים תורה to a גוי based on the pasuk that we say in davening every day ומשפטים בל ידעום. Tosafos there asks why do we need this pasuk, since a גוי is not allowed to learn torah, I am prohibited from teaching him so what is this pasuk מחדש, see Tosafos's answer. The Maharsha answers that this pasuk teaches us that you can't even teach them lomdus in the ז' מצות בני נח, from the gemara in Sanhedrin I would have thought that was mutar, comes the pasuk here to prohibit it. If so, again, what did they do in Shem and Ever's yeshiva? They were not even allowed to learn the reasons of the ז' מצות בני נח and any lomdus?

The answer would seem to be as follows. The source for the issur for a גוי to learn Torah is based on the pasuk תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהילת יעקב, the gemara in Sanhedrin says that either it means it is our inheritance and for a גוי to learn it is stealing, or it means מאורסה, engaged, that the Torah is like our bride. In either case the issur only came into effect after Matan Torah, before matan Torah the Torah did not belong to the Jewish people and was not married to the Jewish people. Therefore, the whole issur for a גוי to learn Torah only started after Matan Torah and consequently Shem and Ever and their yeshiva were allowed to learn all of Torah.

This issur is very relevant nowadays. How can I write this on my blog, after all, a גוי can come and read this and learn Torah? R' Moshe was asked this same question about shiurim on the radio and he answered that since you are teaching Torah to Jews you have no chiyuv to stop just because a גוי can listen in. The same applies to blogs. However, in a one on one situation the issur definately applies. For example, at work, if a גוי starts asking you all kinds of questions about Judaism it is not so simple that you can just answer him. There is a problem of teaching torah to a גוי. The same applies to e-mails from a גוי, you have to be very careful how you answer.


nyfunnyman said...

what would you say to coworkers who ask you about -say succos- like "what is it and why do you do it?" and they ask you- "why do you take a palm branch" etc- what do you think we should respond?

ADDeRabbi said...

"since you are teaching Torah to Jews you have no chiyuv to stop just because a גוי can listen in"

that's the hetter to teach in the day schools as well :-)

bluke said...

I don't have a good answer. There is a line, I don't know exactly where it is.

The Shita Mekubetzes in Kesubos 28a differentiates between תורה שבכתב and תורה שבעל פה. The issur only applies to תורה שבעל פה, if so anything explicit in the chumash you can certainly tell him.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

What about precedents like Seforno teaching Reuchlin not only Hebrew but Talmud?

Reuchlin paid us back in spades, even meriting a mention by Tiferet Yisrael as an exemplar of the hassidei umot ha-olam.

pop said...

2 haoros:

1. If there is no issur of lifnei iver for a goy(I think its a machlokes roshonim) then you could explain the gemorah that way.

2. How can the torah be mechayiv a goy in an issur of not learning torah if a goy is not metsuvah in the torah to begin with.

bluke said...

The gemara explains that the issur for a goy to learn torah is eaither based on gezel (it is our inheritance), or based on that fact that we are married to teh Torah. Both of tehse are included in teh sheva mitzvoas bnei noach.

bluke said...

The acharonim have a number of cases where it might be mutar.

The Maharsha in Shabbos 31a says that there is no issur to learn (or teach to) torah for someone who is going be come a ger.

The Shaagas Aryeh (Turei Even Chagiga 13a) says that since the prohibition for a goy to learn torah is based on gezel, if the Jew agrees to teach him out of his own free will there is no gezel. This is very difficult because the gemara calls torah מורשה, an inheritance, who says that you can give away my inheritance?

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>This is very difficult because the gemara calls torah מורשה, an inheritance, who says that you can give away my inheritance?

Thinking about it last night, in addition to the more famous example of R. Ovadya Seforno teaching Reuchlin, there were more examples, like R. DZ Hoffman teaching Hermann Strack or R. YY Weinberg teaching Paul Kahle (although in this case R. Weinberg also learned much from Kahle, and R. Weinberg could be thought of as merely following the example of R. Hoffman).

What did Reuchlin, Strack and Kahle all have in common? All three were philo-Semites. They did not dishonor rabbinic learning and were in their own ways non-Jewish advocates for the Torah. This is in contrast with many non-Jewish Hebraists who were extremely antagonistic towards Judaism.

Musing out loud, could be that the 'spirit' of the halakhah is not only not violated, but enhanced when teaching Torah to worthy non-Jews like a Reuchlin, a Strack or a Kahle. In other words, Torah is not the morasha of a potential or actual non-Jewish antisemite, but this problem dissolves when teaching a potential or actual non-Jewish advocate for Torah.

pop said...

bluke: how can someone be gozel a davar shein bo mamash?

further how can it be gezel to 'know' about something?

mahaichi tasi that its shayich to ossar a goy based on a marriage to a dovor sha ein bo mamash? Where is the arayos???? (that is assuming the issur is not gezel)

bluke said...

I didn't make this up, this is what the Gemara in Sanhedrin (59a) says.

m34ever said...

This גוי would like to see all yehudon in the hold of a ship bound for Israel.

Yeah, and the sooner the better. Good day!