Wednesday, February 02, 2011

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What If a Non-Jew Wants to Study the Torah?

tzitzitby Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

Question:

     What if a person who is not Jewish wants to do the mitzvah of tallit katan (the fringed garment commanded to Jewish men), and to wear tefillin, and to study Talmud? Is this alright to do? I have heard it said that goyim (non-Jews) cannot be taught Talmud. I hope this is not so.

Gutman’s Answer:

Non-Jews are allowed to study the Torah on their own, but we are not allowed to teach it to them. This rule applies to the areas of Torah that are not commanded to them. However, Jews are to teach them about the Seven Noahide Mitzvahs. The Seven Mitzvahs are more than the 7 rules. These seven rules are actually categories of law, and learning all about them can be a long and involved process.

     The problem with non-Jews doing the mitzvahs that have been specifically given to the Jewish people, is that these mitzvahs will actually draw non-Jews away from their own inherited path. They are not Jews, so they will find their spiritual answers in the wisdom that they have been given, and not in the wisdom that has been given to another people. They should delve into the physical and spiritual life that they have been given. Then, their reward will be great, both in this world and in the World to Come.

     Yesterday, a tourist walked up to me with a big smile on his face. I asked if he was Jewish. He said, “No. I’m a Bene Noach.” This is the “official” name for a non-Jew who keeps the Seven Mitzvahs of Noah. He opened his wallet, took out a business card, and still with that huge smile on his face, he handed me his card. On it were printed the seven commandments and his website address. I called out to the other guys at the tefillin stand, “Hey here’s a tzaddek! (an entirely righteous person) He keeps the Seven Mitzvahs.”

     I said, “Now that you know the truth, you are in a position to help a lot of other people, too. But I see from your card that you already know this.” I patted him on his chest, and he walked off a very happy man. And he should be happy, too. He has found his spiritual way in a very physical world.

2 comments:

Dov Bar-Leib said...

I believe if they want to, Noachides can also do Kibud Av V'em and Tzedakah for eternal reward, even though they are not required to do so. They can also wear a tallit even though they receive no reward for that whatsoever except that it might make them feel good.

They simply cannot wear tefillin and keep the negative prohibitions of Shabbat, because both are described in the Torah as an Ot (a sigh of the covenant between Israel and HaShem). Therefore, we cannot give them a Brit Milah with P'riah because that is an Ot too. Also they cannot affix a mezuzah because the mezuzah obligates the Jew in the mitzvah of tefillin. And we cannot teach them parts of the Torah that do not apply to non-Jews. Other than that, let them keep whatever they want. For some things they will receive eternal reward, for others they are simply doing what makes them feel good. As long as this does not include tefillin, negative commandments of Shabbat, or mezuzahs, they are causing themselves no harm.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Of course, a righteous gentile is not obligated in prayer but can pray to G-d alone if he chooses to, and his prayers are heard and considered and sometimes answered affirmatively. Of course if he prays to the man-god, there is no one on the receiving end to hear his prayers. But his prayers must be accompanied with praises to G-d first, just as a Jew must say P'sukei D'zimra before he asks G-d for supplications.

Also a Noachide can if he desires offer up a Korban Olah (a fully burnt elevation offering) in the Temple when it is built. Of course, he is limited to a Korban Olah only, with which he comes close to his Creator and receives eternal reward. In the Temple the sacrifices must come from the species that were sacrificed in the Temple and that were used for private fully burnt offerings. He cannot offer up other types of offerings which a Jew can offer up in the Temple in which either the Kohen or the Jew participates in the eating of the offering. Therefore, a Nochide cannot offer up a sin offering, a guilt offering, a thanksgiving offering, or a peace offering, or any other offering where either the Kohen or the offerer eats part of the sacrifice. But while a Jew can only offer sacrifices in the Temple when it is built, a Noachide can still even today make his own private altar, probably with the help of a knowledgeable Rav. On it, he can offer up Olah offerings from any of the pure species including animals offered in the Temple or deer, buffalo, or any of the kosher birds. This means he can offer up a chicken to G-d, and it would be an acceptable Olah sacrifice. Yes, even a chicken. Again these other species from wild split-hooved mammals who chew their cud to any kosher bird can only be offered up on private altars. Offerings in the rebuilt Temple will have to come from those species used in the Temple.

From this one can see that the Noachide's relationship to G-d is far richer than just the seven universal laws. I didn't even mention anything about the Noachide's repentence for his sins which do not involve the death penalty unless there are witnesses.

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