Will one receive the reward of Learning Torah if they read the Tanach, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, etc. in English if English is their mother tongue? Please cite sources.

  • 2
    Just as you receive s'char for praying in a language you understand, you receive s'char for learning Torah in a language you understand. (That's my hava amina.)
    – ezra
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


The Torah was written in all 70 languages available at the time in order for everyone to be able to learn it in all languages and fulfill the commandments as written in Sotah 32a:

ואחר כך הביאו את האבנים ובנו את המזבח וסדוהו בסיד וכתבו עליו את כל דברי התורה בשבעים לשון שנאמר (דברים כז, ח) באר היטב

There are only a few Mitzvos that must be read from the Torah in Lashon Hakodesh (Hebrew) ibid:

ואלו נאמרין בלשון הקודש חמקרא ביכורים טוחליצה ברכות וקללות יברכת כהנים וברכת כהן גדול כופרשת המלך לופרשת עגלה ערופה מומשוח מלחמה בשעה שמדבר אל העם.

In fact one only gets the full Mitzva of Learning Torah if one understands the meaning and clarifies all the details of the Torah (in ones own language if Hebrew is not a natural tongue), Rambam Talmud Torah 1,11:

וחייב לשלש את זמן למידתו. שליש בתורה שבכתב. ושליש בתורה שבעל פה. ושליש יבין וישכיל אחרית דבר מראשיתו ויוציא דבר מדבר וידמה דבר לדבר ויבין במדות שהתורה נדרשת בהן עד שידע היאך הוא עיקר המדות והיאך יוציא האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן מדברים שלמד מפי השמועה. וענין זה הוא הנקרא גמרא

  • BUT a translation is never perfect. To get all the nuances you need the original text, which is typically in Hebrew or Aramaic. (But for something that was written in e.g. Arabic Hebrew is not necessarily better than English.)
    – Heshy
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 21:53
  • The rambam also wrote on the mishna in arabic.
    – patient
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 12:26
  • The gemoro zohar is also not written in hebrew but aramaic
    – patient
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 12:28

I know you asked for sources, but I'll answer you anyway in my own language.

The answer is: absolutely!

The mitzvah of Torah-learning is to know the Torah; distinguishing between what is permitted and what is forbidden. We get to this point by reading, analyzing, and understanding the Torah(both Written and Oral).

While it is better to learn in lashon hakodesh, this is only true if one would understand their learning better that way. If they learn better in english, chinese, or spanish; then that's the best way to learn because that's the best way they will understand the Torah...and that's what God wants from us, because then we can keep and fulfill the Torah with a full understanding of what's required of us.

In fact, the majority of the Talmud Bavli(which is the basis of our current way to keep the Torah) is written in Aramaic, which was the language of the Jewish people then in Bavel(an area in and around modern-day Iraq).

If someone learned all of the Talmud in english and fully understood it, it would not diminish their stature as a Torah giant; because they would still know more than most of the generation.

Another interesting and related fact(which is also a halacha); is that the Shema can be recited in any language as long as they understand it(see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 62:2 and Ba'er Heitev 1, there; based on the Talmud in Berachot). Interestingly enough, the shema is also the source of the mitzvah of Torah-learning!

You must log in to answer this question.

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