Many Nochrim are often interested in asking about our understanding of Chumash. Is it mutar or perhaps even a mitzvah to teach Chumash to a Nochri? What exactly can we teach them? Can one explain Chumash while incorporating (i.e. teaching them at the same time) other texts, i.e. Medrash, Rashi, other Meforshim, etc.? What exactly are the limits to what one can teach them when it comes to explaining Chumash. Thank you.
Donny Schwartz, Baltimore, USA
The Gemara in Chagiga 13a says that it is forbidden to give over words of Torah to a non-Jew and the Gemara in Sahhedrin 59a says that a non-Jew that studies Torah is punished. Nonetheless, it seems from many, but not all Poskim, that one is, at least, allowed to teach non-Jews the written Torah (Igros Moshe YD III,90). This is based on the fact that Yehuoshua was commanded to write the Torah out in seventy languages so that the non-Jews could learn it. Teaching them the written Torah would include, presumably, commentaries on Tanach that explain the simple meaning of the text - much of the Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Seforno, Metzudas Dovid, etc. To go to the deeper Midrashic level of the text, however, would already be considered Oral Torah and more problematic. Thus much of Rashi's commentary, which draws on Midrash, would not be included in the above Heter.
Some Poskim are lenient about teaching a non-Jew who is interested in converting to Judaism. This is based on the Gemara in Shabbos 31a that records the story of a non-Jew that comes to Hillel to convert and Hillel seems to teach him Torah before he converts (see Maharsha there). The Me'iri on Sanhedrin 59a goes even farther. He says that if a non-Jew has not decided to convert, but if he sees the beauty and perfection of the Torah, he will convert, it is permissible to teach him Torah. Other Poskim argue with the Maharsha's interpretation of the Gemara in Shabbos (Hillel first converted the non-Jew and then taught him) and are stringent even if the person has decided to convert (see Responsa of R' Akiva Eiger #41; interestingly, his Teshuvah deals with a case where all the person wanted to do was teach the prospective Ger, Tanach and the Siddur).
The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (10:9) quotes the Gemara in Sanhedrin that it is forbidden for a non-Jew to learn Torah, and yet in a Teshuvah (Pe'er haDor #149) he says that one is allowed to teach Christians - but not Muslims - in order to draw them closer to our religion (an explanation of the distinction between Christians and Muslims is beyond the scope of this answer). It seems that the Rambam holds that if a non-Jew holds of the divinty of the Torah, then it is permitted to teach him Torah - maybe even meritorious.
The Chasam Sofer (Chulin 33a) has a similar interpretation of the Rambam. He says that the Rambam makes a distinction between Goy and Ben Noach. The prohibition for a non-Jew to learn Torah applies to a Goy, but a Ben Noach - someone who has forsaken idol worship - is allowed to learn Torah (and do all of the Mitzvos).
This is not a Psak Halachah