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I've been reading the Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner and came across this in Part I 5:2 note. 91

"...(1) It is also prohibited for a Jew to teach Torah to gentiles in the canonised Hebrew or Aramaic text. (next page)..(2) We can add that after the Torah was translated into Greek as the Septuagint, it is permitted to learn Torah in one's own language from a proper translation..."

If it is prohibited for a Jew to teach to a gentile Torah in Hebrew or Aramaic then is it prohibited for a gentile to learn either language?
The source given for (1) is Talmud - Hagigah 13a

"... And Rabbi Ami said further: The words of the Torah may not be transmitted to a gentile..."
https://www.sefaria.org/Chagigah.13a.6?lang=bi&with=Shaar%20HaEmunah%20Ve%27Yesod%20HaChassidut&lang2=en

Does "The words of the Torah" mean the precise Hebrew letters and their order?

One of the sources given for (2) is Sanhedrin 59a which references Deuteronomy 33:4. Does that imply that the holy language was an inheritance to the congregation of Jacob along with the Torah? And so is it considered Theft or Adultery to learn Biblical Hebrew? Is reading in Biblical Hebrew considered a level of learning Torah that is prohibited to gentiles?

Thank you for reading my question.

  • Is your concern that learning the language would equip the non-Jew with the tools to learn the text? This law, BTW, is not clearly codified in works of law, so an extension of it would be an even more tenuous point. – rosends Dec 5 '19 at 12:25
  • Im concerned that reading parts of the Torah, that don't have to do with the Noahide code ,in the Original Hebrew is considered to be learning Torah for its own sake which is prohibited. – Jake w Dec 5 '19 at 13:10
  • There's a form of study that is in a way of deep involvement and penetrating, investigative learning - pilpul in Hebrew. And that form of studying is not allowed for gentiles for anything other than the Noachide commandments because of [Sanhedrin 59a] (sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.59a.2?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en) Please correct me if I understood this wrong, it all comes from the book The Divine Code. – Jake w Dec 5 '19 at 17:31
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The Talmud Sanhedrin 59a rules that it is prohibited for non-Jews to study Torah. But there was one rabbi who fought for equality. He took a universal approach, saying that since Torah is objectively true, we should teach Torah to non-Jews, as Abraham had done when he welcomed strangers to learn in his tent. The ruling ruled against his motion. But he may have been right. Some rabbis (I forget the source) said that it is possible that a Sanhedrin ruling could be wrong.

For example, in the Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 2:9 Rabban Gamaliel and the sage Rabbi Joshua calculated the dates for the holiday of Yom Kippur differently. In the end, Rabbi Joshua consented not because he was wrong but because he wanted to prevent division in Judaism. (The mandate of Deuteronomy 17 does not refer to the rabbis).

True, the Torah was a covenant with Abraham. Yet, G-d's truth is not inclusive. Indeed, the great Jewish sage and philosopher Moses Maimonides wrote that "The truth is the truth no matter what its source." He, therefore, had no quarrels accepting the philosophy of the Greek Pagan Aristotle.

In other words, Jews should learn the truth from whoever speaks it, and the same applies to gentiles. If truth really is the Torah, why are we preventing them from hearing G-d's message? When will we realize that in the messianic age, all people will proselyte to Judaism?1

1 Jews do not proselytize but we accept converts


For an in-depth answer regarding the nature of rabbinic authority please click here. To see an analysis of the theory of the decline of the generation please click here.

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I wanted this to be a separate answer as the subject is too broad to mention in the previous one. Since we have concluded that non-Jews can and should read the Bible, we should now be asking ourselves can they read it in Hebrew? But the real question we should be asking is what is holiness?

The Jewish poet Halevi wrote that the Jewish language, Hebrew is superior and holy because it is Jewish. Rabbi Ishmael disagreed. He felt that the Bible was written for people who needed to understand it and that it was written in the way that people think and talk, in human terms, not divine, language. It follows that the Hebrew language is not inherently holy. Can the soil turn holy? Is the Bible “holy”? No. Holiness is not an ingredient.

Neither land nor any other object is holy; holiness is the result of proper action regarding the self, land, or object. Nothing is holy per se. The term holiness only comes into effect when people use these things in a proper way. Holiness is the result of actions. The Shabbat is only holy if you keep it. The Torah is certainly holy if we read it and practice its enactments as the rabbis explained them. Maimonides stressed that Israel is only holy when Jews live there. It follows that prayers do not have to be recited in Hebrew and may even be recited in an abridged version.

Although the best way to understand the Bible is to read it in Hebrew.


To see another answer regarding the nature of holiness, please click here.

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  • Didn't G-d declare the seventh day holy? Therefore it is holy regardless if you keep it. Non-Jews can read the Torah, but not delve into the parts that don't concern them, as stated in The Divine Code. What Im not sure about is if reading Torah in the original Hebrew is delving into Torah. – Jake w Dec 5 '19 at 19:30
  • Thank you for your comments. As shown in my answer(s), holiness is not an ingredient. No land can turn holy for one moment and not the next. If that be the case, what then is the definition of holiness? I am convinced that holiness is what you make of it. For example, the Torah or Shabbat is only holy if we use them properly. Rambam wrote that Israel is only holy when Jews live there. – Turk Hill Dec 5 '19 at 19:45
  • The same can and should be applied to Hebrew. While Halevi felt that Hebrew was superior to other languages because it was Jewish, Maimonides understood that nothing is holy per se. Hebrew is like all other languages. The Torah and Hebrew did not preexist creation, the Midrash is speaking in parables. Hebrew was not the first language that Adam spoke, and it is not divine any more than the Vedic claim that Sanskrit is the first, universal, divine language. People like to feel important. – Turk Hill Dec 5 '19 at 19:45
  • For example, Jews say Hebrew preexisted creation, the Indians say it was Sanskrit. Hindus claim to have ruled the world millions of years ago. Jews think they are chosen. Chosenness is not to be mistaken as superior genetics. Chosenness is a contract between Abraham and G-d, like a marriage contract, but it does not mean that G-d has disdain for non-Jews. – Turk Hill Dec 5 '19 at 19:45
  • Regarding G-d and the Shabbath, does G-d rest? We should not understand G-d being anthropomorphically as portrayed in the Bible. Rabbi Ishmael felt that the Torah "speaks in the language of man," which is to say that the Torah was written in the way that people talk and think. – Turk Hill Dec 5 '19 at 19:45

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