(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 11:23:28 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Teaching Non-Jews Torah

Nechama Cox and Michael Radar raise some interesting issues about my
posting that non-jews should not learn shabbath laws or laws in matters
that specifically deal with our God-Israel relationship.  In some cases
valid distinctions were made leading to modificaitions of (both our)
positions. In most cases we agree. In one case I believe an incorrect
application of Talmudic methodolgy was used. (Tf V4 #49) Let me review:

(1) Nechama raises the issue of Non Jews preparing shabbath elevators and
Michael raises the issue of Non Jews giving Terumah. (How then can I
reconcile this with the statement >  A non jew who observes shabbath deserves
to die<  ).

In answering the above I would distinguish between an ORGANIZED STUDY of
laws or analyis vs learning how to do specific ACTS. Thus a non jew who
asks how to make a shabbath elevator is neither observing shabbath nor
learning. In summary, I believe any prohibition if it exists refers to an

(2) Michael, Nechama and  I agree that non jews are encouraged to both
learn and do all relevant noachide laws--this includes total familiarity
with tractates like Baba Kama, Metzia, Bathra (theft/damage laws) as well
as tractates like Idolatry, Sanhedrin (they must set up courts).

(3) Michael brings the statement >  A non jew who learns deserves to die<
Since this contradicts other talmudic statements Michael (based on
articles) applies this to idolators (an idolator should not be learning
while a non jew may) This is fine.

(4) We still have the Talmudic statement >  A non jew who observes sabbath
deserves to die<  . Michael  TRANSFERS THE DISTINCTION FROM (3) above and
says this refers to idolators.

But that is not necessary. There is no indication that the non-sabbath
observance prohibition applies to idolators. One of course should ask WHY
Sabbath was singled out. I therefore suggested that Sabbath was singled out
because it is called a God-Israel-Symbol. Similarly, Tefilin and Passover
are God-Israel-symbols. They are personal between God and us and should not
be shared with non-jews.

In summary I am suggesting that non jews are (a) encouraged to have
organized study and learn all laws that apply to them (b) and can learn and
do specific acts except for  acts that are symbols between God and
Israel (like Shabbath, Passover, Tefillin etc). I believe these
distinctions are more conceptually satisfying and deal with all texts.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
RHendel @ Mcs drexel edu