I was reading the introduction to Rabbi Yehuda Henkin's book "Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women's Issues" and he wrote something that I found interesting:

Whether Halachic response should be translated into English at all is a matter of controversy. R. Moshe Feinstein and R. Menashe Klein and others were and are opposed, as was I. Ideally, everyone should know Hebrew, and Halachic discourse should be conducted exclusively in that language. However, fluency and ease in Hebrew is uncommon outside of Israel today even among rabbis, and this, combined with the flood of translation of basic texts and the market for even pedestrian books written in English, hinders the circulation and appreciation of new response in Hebrew. The public is left with occasional references in various journals of Jewish law. Better, in an age of second-hand accounts of what poskim say, to make translations available.

While R' Yehuda Henkin makes his position clear on the matter, does anyone know where the source and reasoning for R' Moshe Feinstein and R' Menashe Klein's opinions can be found?

Additionally, I find it interesting when R' Yehuda Henkin writes that "Halachic discourse should be conducted exclusively in" Hebrew. Unless he's referring specifically to the written discourse (which in context doesn't seem like it, as there are quite a few non-Israelis who are fluent in written Hebrew yet can't speak it), I haven't heard anything even remotely similar to that, and have even heard the complete opposite (there used to be a greater pushback when Jewish speech started drifting away from Yiddish).

  • 1
    Since he is writing about Responsa and discussions of halacha, the implication is that he is referring to the written discourse. It is the diference to rabbonim writing each other about various shealos and chavrusas learning together. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 15:38
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/101522/…
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


Reb Moshe writes in Igros Moshe(YD 3:91) that he emphatically refused to give permission to translate his Teshuvos (either in full or a summery) into English, because

  1. It may not be translated properly
  2. It may cause people to make mistakes
  3. One shouldn't give Teshuvos to ignoramuses as they may make errors in Halachic judgement (comparing cases which are not similar)

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