(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 < firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
ORGANIZED COMPREHENSIVE study.
(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