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Can someone learn torah from a non jew? I know a Jew can't teach a non jew torah that doesn't apply to him (Tosafos, Chagiga 13a; S"A Hil'TT). However, is there an issue with a Jew learning Torah (that applies or doesn't apply to a non jew) from a Non Jew? Non Jew, or even Idol worshipper...Text based or even Pshatim to the Limud.

Example(s):

  1. Chris teaching Yakov Zohar.
  2. Chris teaching David Talmud.
  3. Chris teaching Baruch Bible.
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    The concordance was written by a non-Jew and is used by all poskim. It is better than the r'dak who wrote something similar for reasons too long to explain here. Basically Jewish writers of seforim are not the best for us. – interested May 12 at 10:05
  • There have been non-Jews who has the ability to locate any Tosafos within a split second, but alas, they were not god fearing, and only possessed a powerful memory. – Dr. Shmuel May 12 at 15:20
  • @interested "The concordance"? There are many - also written by Jews. Moreover you can't use the concordance as a proof to learning. – Avrohom Yitzchok May 12 at 16:55
  • @interested which poskim use the concordance? – robev May 12 at 17:05
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The earliest source I can think of is Rav Hai Gaon.

I apologize that I can't give better a citation, but a Rosh Yeshiva once told me he saw a responsa from Rav Hai Gaon, with the following question:

There is a Christian Priest in my town, who is very knowlegable regarding Tanach and has good approaches to the text, am I permitted to ask and learn from him?

Rav Hai Gaon's response is: Mekabel Emes MeMi SheAmro, take truth where it is found.

Also, the Abarbanel in his peirush on Tanach will quote Christian sources' interpretation of pesukim. Most often he rejects their claim, but sometimes does accept it as an approach (especially interesting, since he was chased out of Spain by the Christians during inquisition). That being said, the Abarbanel may not be mainstream in this regard, and I know of at least one right-wing Yeshiva that purges its shelves of his contributions.

Short answer is: yes, that's fine. But you'd better have enough background information to know if it's really "Torah".

Update: A friend of mine just found a promising source for the Rav Hai Gaon story, not sure if it is the same one I heard since it is a bit different but certainly close enough to suspect this is the case:

אגרת שהכילה את פרשת חייו של רבינו האי גאון ז"ל ודרכיו המשובחים ובה מסופר שיום אחד נזדמן בישיבה הפסוק שמן ראש אל יני ראשי ונחלקו המסובים בביאורו וצוה רבינו האי ז"ל את ר' מצליח שילך אל הקתוליק של הנוצרים וישאלהו מה הוא יודע בבאור הפסוק הוה ורע בעיניו וכשראה ז"ל שקשה עליו הדבר על ר' מצליח הוכיח אותו לאמר הן האבות והקדמונים החסידים והם לנו למופת היו שואלים על הלשונות ועל הביאורים אצל בני דתות שונות אפילו רועי צאן ובקר כידוע

Also, while clearly not baring the same level of authority of precedent as the previous sources, here is an interesting story related to the subject.

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  • "Rav Hai Gaon's response is: Mekabel Emes MeMi SheAmro, take truth where it is found". That is interesting: I was under the impression that Rambam (or his translators) coined that phrase. On the other hand, a footnote to Hebrew Wikipedia's "הקדמות הרמב"ם" suggests his source for that phrase might be in the words of Al-Abbas (Muhammad's uncle, and one of his early supporters). Maybe Rav Hai Gaon got it from him too. – Tamir Evan May 12 at 7:00
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    Stories like this morph very easily from telling to telling, so they should be sourced. This really needs a reference to the original source to be useful. – simyou May 12 at 7:40
  • @simyou I agree completely, but I thought it was worth sharing for what it was. The Rosh Yeshiva who told me said it in public, and he is considered among his peers as an iluy with exceptional intellectual integrity so I trust him, though that is only useful for you if you trust me. (I myself asked him immediately after the shiur for the source, and he couldn't recall offhand he just said he saw it in a compilation of Goanic responsa.) In any case, see update. – Ester Lin May 12 at 15:47
  • I have found a link to the quote that works better for me. The quote is from A. S. Halkin's edition of Joseph ben Judah ibn Aknin's "התגלות הסודות והופעת המאורות" (Inkishāf al-asrar watuhūr al-anwār, "The Divulgence of Mysteries and the Appearance of Lights"),p. 495 (514 pages from the start). The quote also appears in Yohanan Kapach's "מותר ללמוד תורה מגוי או ללמד אותו תורה"(PDF) – Tamir Evan May 12 at 18:09
  • @EsterLin Shabbos 75a rashi says against what the R Hai Goan said, as rashi says והלומד דבר אחד מן המגוש - מין הממשיכו לע"ז אפי' דבר תורה אסור ללמוד ממנו: – FalseMessiah May 20 at 8:43
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The Midrash (Echah Rabbah 2:13) says: if someone tells you there is wisdom among the nations, believe him; if he tells you there is Torah among the nations, do not believe him.

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    This is referring to the wisdom of other nations, I do not think it is relevant to learning Jewish Torah from a non-jew. – simyou May 12 at 7:18
  • @simyou y is that? – FalseMessiah May 12 at 7:45
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    @FalseMessiah Wisdom of the nations refers to science, math, even perhaps psychology and the like. It's descriptions of how our world work based on observation. We can believe their wisdom. But Torah refers to the works revealing and explaining the Divine Will, which requires a spiritual sensitivity. It's more than just observation; it's a spiritual connection. I have a good source for you which I'm tracking down and will share as an answer which explains this more. – Binyomin May 12 at 10:23

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