Are we allowed to teach Sifrei Mussar (for instance Orchos Tzadikim, Mesilas Yesharim, Chovos Halevavos) to non-Jews?

What about the Gra on Mishlei?

  • according the the Rambam non-Jews may only learn Torah which is related to the sheva mitzvois bnei noiach. If they learn other things they are chayav misa. Being that one of the sheva mitzvas is a belief in Gd then this list of things could potentially be much larger than what is obvious to learn if it could be connected to their belief in Gd. Additionally another mitzvah is setting up a government and so learning laws related to torts, damages, etc which would be needed for setting up a court house might also be relevant
    – Dude
    Feb 22, 2016 at 17:42
  • 1

2 Answers 2


R' Yechiel Perr, RY in Far Rockaway was asked by Dr Alan Morinis about this. Morinis's Mussar Institute teaches a lot of people whose spouse is Jewish, or who self-identify as Jewish but are far from being Jews halachically. I was present when the question was asked.

Rabbi Perr said that Mussar -- development of one's middos -- is also obligatory for non-Jews no less than Jews. So, like teaching them the laws incumbent on non-Jews as terms of the covenant with Noah, teaching Mussar is a mitzvah, not merely permissable.

(Even outside the institute's context of needing to teach to some non-Jews in order to reach a primarily Jewish population.)

Any errors are in my memory, and R' Perr (as a scion of Novhardok, this is his turf) should be consulted if one is asking for a practical halachic ruling.

  • I will try to remember to ask R' Naftali Kaplan shlit"a, another contemporary mussarist, and append his answer. But as he's in Israel, I don't speak to him that frequently. Feb 23, 2016 at 11:29
  • DO you know if he suggested spesific seforim for non jews? BTW, Rav Naftoli is Rav Yechiels B-I-L Feb 23, 2016 at 17:59
  • I do not recall RYP mentioning any. Feb 23, 2016 at 21:31

The most common distinction made is between Written and Oral Torah. Mussar is not part of the first one but I am unclear if it is formally part of the second (which is traditionally meant to include Mishna and Gemara). Teaching the Oral Torah is more restrictive than the Written Torah which is open to nearly all.

In any case a number of poskim allow teaching Written and Oral Torah to non-Jews with the goal that they observe the seven Noachide commandments (to which they are obligated) and if it is not meant to disgrace Judaism or pass themselves for Jews.

R Shlomo Brody for instance writes here

Rabbi Menahem Hameiri connected this edict to a similar prohibition in the same talmudic passage which prohibits gentiles from observing Shabbat. He believed the prohibition stemmed from concerns that “insider knowledge” might allow the gentile to pass himself off as a Jew and undermine ritual behaviors. Yet gentiles genuinely searching for wisdom (or to observe other commandments) toward personal growth may study without impunity. Hameiri, preceded by Maimonides, asserted that gentiles who perform commandments, even beyond the Noahide laws, deserve reward for their virtuous behavior and therefore allowed for Torah study toward those goals.

and later

Particularly notable was Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg, who himself taught at a pre-World War II German university. He contended that the proscription only banned gentile study intended to form competing religious ideals and rituals. It remained perfectly permissible, however, to teach even an exclusively non- Jewish audience if the goal was simply to spread Jewish wisdom.

I have once personally attended a number of Talmud classes given in a French university (to a mixed audience) by the talmid muvhak of R Weinberg (the Sridei Eish), now a rosh yeshiva in Jerusalem.

I actually think the above can be learned from a careful reading of the gemara in Sanhedrin 59a

ואמר ר' יוחנן עובד כוכבים שעוסק בתורה חייב מיתה
A gentile who engages in Torah study is liable to receive the death penalty

The gemara speaks of osek baTorah in opposition to lomed Torah. laasok is to learn in-depth, to extract hidushim, and not simply to acquire information.

See also the long article Teaching Torah to Non-Jews by R J. David Bleich in Tradition vol 18 no 2 (Summer 1980) pp. 192-211, accessible here or here for subscribers. He writes amongst other things

It seems to this writer that while there exists no obligation to volunteer information (although it may well be laudable to do so), there is an obligation to respond to a request for information. Jews are commanded to disseminate Torah as widely as possible among their fellow Jews, but there is no obligation to seize the initiative in teaching the seven commandments to Noachides. Nevertheless, when information or advice is solicited there is a definite obligation to respond. When the non-Jew takes the initiative in posing a query, the Jew must respond to the best of his ability.

But since some are more restrictive (e.g., on passing over the secrets of the Torah, see Maharsha and Meiri on Hagiga 13a), it is important to CYLOR in practical cases.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .