A midrash says:

The Torah was given openly, in a public place. For if it were given in Eretz Yisrael, they could say to the nations of the world: You have no portion in it. But it was given openly, in a public place, and all who want to take it may come and take it וכל הרוצה לקבל יבא ויקבל. [Mekhilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 19:2:7; emphasis mine]

This seems to imply that the Torah belongs to all mankind, not only to study but also to observe. But, in an opinion that was accepted as halacha, the Talmud says that gentiles may study (and generally observe) only the parts of the Torah that pertain to their own seven Noahide laws, not the rest. [Sanhedrin 59a, Bava Kama 38a]

How is this apparent contradiction resolved? By saying that the Mekhilta means that Judaism is open to converts? Is this discussed anywhere?

  • 2
    See Gemara in Sotah about 70 languages, Iske sid.
    – kouty
    Jun 22, 2020 at 16:39
  • I just did. What's the relevance? Jun 22, 2020 at 17:05
  • 1
    The Torah was translated in 70 languages on tablets made with sid and peoples read it. So it was given for everyone
    – kouty
    Jun 22, 2020 at 18:32
  • 1
    After they didn't accept Torah, the din of Sanhedrin apply
    – kouty
    Jun 22, 2020 at 19:26
  • 1
    @kouty put your comments in an answer.
    – user6781
    Jun 22, 2020 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


I'd like to point out two things. First, the word לקבל is better translated as "to accept" rather than "to take". It is about accepting responsibility rather than taking what you please; in other words, it is, indeed, speaking about conversion.

Or is it?

In fact, one could take your question to an extreme. Perhaps the midrash means that I, as a Yisroel, can perform the mitzvos of a kohen? Perhaps I can serve in the temple etc? Well, of course we know this isnt true. The Torah isn't a one size fits all proposition. The Torah teaches that kohanim have certain mitzvos, yisraels have less, and the gentiles have seven mitzvos. "Accepting the Torah" for a gentile, means accepting the 7 mitzvos which the Torah teaches for him. As for studying the rest, I don't know what to say to that, although he can surely study if he's interested in being מקבל the rest i.e. to convert.


It was intended for everyone. It says in gemora avoda zara 2b that Hashem offered it to all nations but they didn't want it; only klal yisroel accepted it.

א"ר יוחנן מלמד שהחזירה הקב"ה על כל אומה ולשון ולא קבלוה עד שבא אצל ישראל וקבלוה

  • This doesn't fit with the language of the Midrash. It should have said וכל שרצה לקבל היה בא ומקבל in past tense
    – Double AA
    Jun 24, 2020 at 12:01

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