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Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
08-27-2008, 05:53 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-02-2008, 04:06 PM by Director Michael.)
#1
Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
B''H

Sh'lom Director Michael and Academy Rabbis!

How should a Noahide study the parts of the Torah that are allowed for Noahides to study?
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09-09-2008, 01:27 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-09-2008, 01:33 PM by Director Michael.)
#2
RE: How to approach Noahide Torah Study
Sh'lom Teodor,

You have asked a very broad question! I browsed through our discussion thread titled "Noahide Torah Study," and collected some answers that will address this topic, and I have added on to those.

A Noahide should be aware that the Torah he studies is Divine Wisdom, which G-d has provided for the individual's benefit. The most important goal for a Noahide's Torah learning is to gain the necessary information about what is forbidden and what is required, and to what extent, and in what things is he obligated, and in what things is he is exempt.

In this way, an Noahide can confidently lead a righteous and pious life in G-d's eyes, and merit blessings in this world, and reward in the World to Come. He can also fulfill his Divine task to contribute, through his good actions, to making the world a more fitting vehicle to receive and reveal G-d's blessings.

You are really free to set up any schedule of your choosing if you are interested in daily Torah study. You should learn in a language you understand, using translations and appropriate texts from reliable Orthodox Jewish sources.

If you are interested in study of the Hebrew Bible, you may learn it along with explanations of the "p'shat" meaning of the verses, such as the explanations by Rashi, or the compilations of short explanations as you can find in most Hebrew-English synagogue Bibles (such as the Artscroll Stone edition).

The Five Books of Moses are divided into portions to be read in the synagogue for each week of the year (in the Hebrew calendar), and each weekly portion is divided into seven sections. So that is just one convenient schedule that can be followed. You could also create your own schedule for completing the entire Hebrew Bible ("Tanakh").

But it is more important, and actually required, to study and understand the details of the Noahide Commandments which carry strict liability and which a person might err in as he goes about his daily life. Practically speaking, for most people, the most important of all is to understand and carefully follow the precepts in regard to theft, since this applies for even very small amounts.

An important principle is not to take on more than you are going to be able to reasonably accomplish in your available time, along with your other responsibilities for family, work, community, exercise, rest, etc. If you take on too much and then get discouraged and give up because you can't accomplish your original goal, that is definitely counterproductive. Start with a schedule you know you can accomplish without a lot of difficulty and stress, and then if you want to do more you can work up from there.
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10-01-2008, 10:22 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-14-2010, 12:11 AM by Director Michael.)
#3
Talmud study for noahides
NB: I will use the term 'noahide' to mean 'noahide chassid' and not merely non-Jews/gentiles
Shalom.

There seems to be mixed opinion re: Jews teaching noahides Talmud or noahides studying Talmud.

Some claim there is a prohibition pertaining to ALL gentiles studying Talmud and against Jews teaching them Talmud.

Recent opinion however, is that the prohibition on gentiles studying Talmud was actually against 'idolators' and not righteous gentiles or noahides.

Secondly, the purpose of the prohibition was to prevent idol worshipers from using a knowledge of Jewish scripture to deceive Jews and lead them astray. There is no such risk from genuine, Torah-observant noahides.

Thirdly, The 7 Laws of Noah that noahides MUST study appear only in Talmud and NOT the (written) Torah.

Finally, converts or would-be converts to Judaism study ALL Torah (including Talmud) BEFORE they become Jews.

I look forward to some clarification as I am not a wood worshiper and I wish to study ALL Torah to become a better noahide chassid and to better combat pagan missionaries who would prey on Jewish souls.
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10-05-2008, 05:35 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-06-2017, 03:50 PM by Director Michael.)
#4
RE: Talmud study for noahides
newman Wrote:There seems to be mixed opinion re: Jews teaching noahides Talmud or noahides studying Talmud.

This topic is very thoroughly explained in "Sefer Sheva Mitzvot HaShem," by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, from which the following answers to your questions are taken.

newman Wrote:Some claim there is a prohibition pertaining to ALL gentiles studying Talmud and against Jews teaching them Talmud.

That claim (if there really has been such a claim, as you claim) is too much of a broad generalization, since there are details in regard to who and what, as will be noted.

newman Wrote:Recent opinion however, is that the prohibition on gentiles studying Talmud was actually against 'idolators' and not righteous gentiles or noahides.

That claim as stated is not correct, because it also is too much of a broad generalization, in comparison to the actual facts of the issue. There are details in regard to who and what.

newman Wrote:Secondly, the purpose of the prohibition was to prevent idol worshipers from using a knowledge of Jewish scripture to deceive Jews and lead them astray.

That is only one practical consideration. There are much more fundamental issues involved (see below).

newman Wrote:There is no such risk from genuine, Torah-observant noahides.

A lack of risk from any particular individual isn't relevant to the basic precepts regarding what parts of the Written and Oral Torah a righteous Gentile is permitted to learn in-depth.

newman Wrote:Thirdly, The 7 Laws of Noah that noahides MUST study appear only in Talmud and NOT the (written) Torah.

An observant Noahide is permitted to study specifically THOSE parts of the Talmud in-depth (i.e., those parts that deal with matters relevant to a Noahide's observance of the precepts that are included in the Noahide Code).

But the Talmud is NOT the only place that the 7 Noahide Commandments appear, nor is it the only place for study of the Torah Laws on how to observe them, or for study of how to observe their many offshoots. In fact, the Talmud itself is of little value for definitively understanding numerous aspects of the Noahide Code which can be found in Torah-Law sources such as Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Aruch, to name a few.
As a guide and an aid for study, the practical rulings from and based on these many sources have been compiled by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem in the works "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem" and "The Divine Code."
https://asknoah.org/books/the-divine-code

newman Wrote:Finally, converts or would-be converts to Judaism study ALL Torah (including Talmud) BEFORE they become Jews.

Someone who has already converted according to Torah Law is completely Jewish, so that is not relevant to the discussion here. (However, even for Jews there are restrictions on Torah study - for example, who is permitted to delve into the study of Kabbala. Also, study of Torah can be a detriment for a Jew who does so for self-aggrandizement or for anti-Torah purposes, G-d forbid.)

Would-be converts to Judaism are NOT given carte-blanche permission to study ALL of Torah in-depth (including Talmud) before they become Jews. A would-be convert follows a course of practical study outlined by the Rabbi who is preparing him/her for the conversion.

newman Wrote:I look forward to some clarification as I am not a wood worshiper and I wish to study ALL Torah to become a better noahide chassid and to better combat pagan missionaries who would prey on Jewish souls.

Studying all of Torah will not help a person to be a better Noahide Chassid, and in fact there are areas that will have the opposite effect. It is also not at all necessary or useful to study all of Torah to better combat pagan missionaries. The falsity of pagan religions is very easily disproven by basic facts and concepts. Delving into Talmudic "pilpul" only will go over the heads of pagans and anyone who is on a level that could be influenced by pagans, and give them the impression that there is actually some validity to their false claims that needs some expert analysis to be able to be debated.

It is required for a Gentile/Noahide to learn what the Torah teaches about observance of the Noahide commandments, but there is much more than that. Also regarding anything a Gentile/Noahide is obligated to do (including things that are intellectual obligations, like giving charity, honoring parents, and refraining from tale-bearing), one is allowed to learn the Torah sources that will help him know how to understand and fulfill these obligations in a practical way, and even to the very best of his ability. (Obviously, those whose approach from the outset is a denial of fundamental Torah principles are excluded.)

Even for Torah precepts that a Gentile/Noahide is not obligated in, either by Divine command or by intellectual obligation, but that one is permitted to perform optionally if one desires to do so, it is permissible to learn the Torah laws that deal with those precepts (for example, circumcision for a man, and Jewish standards of modest dressing for a woman).

But even those parts that are permissible for Gentiles/Noahides to read, and how much more so for the rest of the sources within Torah, it is prohibited for even a pious observant Noahide to study them in a way of deep involvement and penetrating, investigative learning, which is the style of Talmudic study. That is commanded upon the Jews, to whom the entire Torah was given over by G-d, and it is a learning that is only for its own sake (since for any practical needs of a layperson it's not necessary to go into such depth). Therefore a non-Jew who would act in such a manner is taking an additional purely Divine commandment upon himself, in the same sense as putting on tefillin or writing a Torah scroll. For a non-Jew, that would be creating a new religion for one's self which G-d did not command, which is forbidden.
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10-06-2008, 10:15 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-06-2008, 08:09 PM by Director Michael.)
#5
RE: Talmud study for noahides
Thankyou.

So basically, I can read both written and oral Torah as long as I don't absorb myself in the same level of study as a Jew...correct?

I.e.: I can study all parts of both Torahs pertaining to the Sheva Mitzvot PLUS any pertaining to any of the 613 Mitzvot I may wish to (optionally) take up (aside from those forbidden to non-Jews such as Teflin, Mezuzas etc). I just can't spent seven hours per day in in-depth Talmudic discussion & hairsplitting like a Jew would do.

I just don't want to worry about a curse should I read the wrong section. Also, I can't deface Torah by blanking out forbidden parts. It's much easier to read the whole thing, gain basic knowledge and further study the most relavent parts.

Please let me know if I'm on the right track.

Newman
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10-07-2008, 02:55 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-26-2008, 11:01 AM by Director Michael.)
#6
RE: Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
We are making progress! But there is still some clarification needed. On another thread in this section, http://www.asknoah.org/forums/showthread...=13&page=1

you'll find this as post #8:

---------------------------------
Learning about the Commandments

In fact, a faithful Noahide is allowed to learn the basics of what the Jews are required to do in fulfillment of their 613 Jewish commandments (many of which are temporarily not able to be followed during the present era of the Diaspora, before the rebuilding of the Holy Temple). This information is found, for example, in the classical codifications of Jewish Torah Law. It is the in-depth Talmudic and Midrashic commentaries and analysis on the Torah and its laws which should be learned exclusively by Jews.
---------------------------------

The Oral Torah actually consists of two main parts, and you can find this explained in Mishneh Torah by Rambam. One part is generically called "Mishnah," and it encompases the straightforward descriptions of what are the Divine Commandments for Jews and Gentiles, and the opinions of the Sages on what one needs to do to properly fulfill them, i.e., how strict or lenient the observance needs to be on any particular aspects of the observance. Torah-faithful pious Gentiles are allowed to learn this dimension of the Oral Torah, because it is basic information and does not require in-depth study. Examples are the Mishnah itself (even though it is likely to be confusing to non-scholars), and the codifications of the commandments, such as Rambam's "Sefer HaMitzvot" (Book of the Commandments) and his "Mishneh Torah," Rabbi Yosef Karo's "Shulchan Aruch" (the basic text), and the abridged "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch." Also included are straightforward explanations of the simple meaning of the Hebrew Bible, such as the commentary of Rashi, or commentary overviews, such as the Stone Edition Chumash (Five Books of Moses) published by Artscroll.

The other part of the Oral Torah is called "Gemara," and it involves study of in-depth, investigative, derivational and homiletic analyses of the Written Torah and the "Mishnah" part of Torah. That is only permitted for pious Gentiles within the subjects that pertain to the Noahide Commandments, and even within that, only study is permitted, but not making legal rulings. It is only expert Jewish Rabbis who may determine the actual rules for observance in the many particular situations that arise in practice.

Since the very text of the Talmud itself, and the in-depth commentaries on any parts of Torah, involve this type of investigative learning, these sources should not be learned by righteous Gentiles, except in areas that are related to the observance of the Noahide Commandments.

Furthermore, it is even not allowed for Rabbis in these later generations to make legal rulings based directely on the Talmud, unless there is no other possible option, or in cases which are truly simple and obvious. Instead, they are to follow the Torah-law rulings of the greater Sages in the earlier generations, who already analyzed and understood the Talmud thoroughly, and took upon themselves the responsibility to codify the authentic practical rulings which follow from it.

Of course, Rabbinical works on subjects of Torah ethics, self-improvement, and learning about the greatness of G-d and about His Unity and Divine Providence, etc. are permitted for pious Gentiles to learn. But as you consider what sources to read as you advance over time, advice and guidance from a reliable mentor is HIGHLY recommended.
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10-08-2008, 09:20 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-12-2008, 03:42 PM by Director Michael.)
#7
RE: Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
So,
Written Torah: All OK.
Oral Torah: Mishnah in.................Gemara out!
Kabbalah: Best left alone!

Avoid deep, all absorbing, probing, argumentative study of ANY text and if in doubt about the application or meaning.......... ask a learned, orthodox Jew.

Gotcha!Cool
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10-12-2008, 03:57 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-22-2016, 01:27 AM by Director Michael.)
#8
RE: Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
newman Wrote:So,
Written Torah: All OK.
Oral Torah: Mishnah in.................Gemara out!
Kabbalah: Best left alone!

Avoid deep, all absorbing, probing, argumentative study of ANY text and if in doubt about the application or meaning.......... ask a learned, orthodox Jew.

Gotcha!Cool

"Mishnah in" - with the advice that later books of straightforward codifications of Torah precepts are more recommended and more useful than the original Mishnah text itself, and the understanding that the majority of Torah precepts only apply to Jews, who have many more commandments. But Noahides can read this for the sake of learning the straightforward information, as long as they do not start taking on purely Jewish commandments for themselves (since this would be making a new religion).

"Gemara out" - with the exception that there are some parts of Gemara (Talmud and in-depth Torah-law commentaries) that apply to observance of the Noahide Code. Those parts may be learned by Noahides, but they are advanced Rabbinical texts. Guidance is very important, and this is *not* the proper source to go to for learning how to observe the Noahide precepts on a practical basis.

"Kabbalah: best left alone" - with the exception that Kabbalah is like Gemara, in that there are some parts that relate to Noahides because they teach about G-d and His Unity. Again, the original sources (even in translation) are advanced texts, and must be learned from a qualified Jewish scholar of Kabbalah. But there are later Rabbinical works that explain the inner teachings of G-d's Unity in a logical and non-mystical way, which can be read and understood by faithful Noahides.

Since non-Jews are Commanded by G-d and Responsible before G-d for observance of their Noahide Code, they have an Obligation to learn these precepts on a practical basis, to guard themselves from making sins or mistakes, and to live a life that is pleasing to G-d, and to teach this information to their children and share it with others. This obligatory learning is much more important than learning any other parts of Torah that are only learned just for one's interest.

For this primary need, Ask Noah International has sponsored and published the book "The Divine Code," which gives English-literate non-Jews the practical guide to observing G-d's Will, as revealed from Mount Sinai in the Torah of Moses: http://asknoah.org/books/the-divine-code
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10-28-2008, 11:38 PM,
#9
RE: Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
BS"D

Pardon me, please, if the answer to this is included in the above guidelines.
Is it appropriate for Bnei Noach to learn Midrash? I refer here to the Midrash Rabbah.

Thank you kindly,
A Good Day to all!
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10-29-2008, 02:52 PM, (This post was last modified: 10-29-2008, 02:56 PM by Director Michael.)
#10
RE: Approaching study of Written and Oral Torah
No, learning straight Midrash Rabbah (which is part of the in-depth Oral Tradition teachings passed down by the Talmudic Sages) is not appropriate for Gentiles, since it is classed along with learning parts of Talmud that are not relevant to fulfillment of the Noahide Commandments.

But if a Gentile is learning an appropriate Torah source and it happens to make brief quotes of Midrash here and there, that is not a problem, because that is not considered to be an in-depth study of the Midrash (compared to going straight to the full source text).

For example, it is appropriate for a Noahide to read the commentary of Rashi on the Hebrew Bible, to gain a correct understanding of the simple meaning of the verses. Occasionally Rashi quotes a sentence of Midrash here and there to clarify a point, and that is not a problem for the Noahide reader.
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