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Concept of National Heritage
Sh'lom dear friends,

Rabbi Yitz wrote that "Torah in essence is the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people. Thus if a Noahide delves deeply into areas of Torah that do not apply to Noahides, that activity is akin to setting aside one day of the week as a Sabbath. The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin even says that it is tantamount to stealing from the Jews."

My question is this: Does the same principle of an intellectual and cultural heritage apply among the Noahide nations themselves? If I might consider (as I do) that Latin philosophy and literature form a part of my national heritage, how does Torah-law view the efforts of a Chinese or Indian person, for instance, who wishes to acquire a thorough knowledge of Latin culture? Is he in fact stealing the wisdom and insights of my ancestors that do not belong to him?

Best regards,

Through this question we can distinguish the difference between Torah and intellectual and cultural heritage of the nations of the world. Torah is a unique commodity which was offered to all the nations of the world, but they refused it; whereas the Jewish Nation accepted it unconditionally with the words, "We will do and we will listen." Thus the Torah was given exclusively to the Jewish nation, and it is written in Deuteronomy 33:4, "an INHERITANCE to the congregation of Jacob." So it is something that the Jews acquired as an inheritance, not something which they cultivated or earned by their own hand. This too applies to the land of Israel. It belongs to the Jews, but only by virtue of Hashem giving it to the Jewish People as an inheritance.
As for the other nations, peoples and cultures of the world, they share the commonality of all being Bnei Noach - the offspring of Noach - which unites them in an original common culture and heritage, that has developed and branched off throughout history (as guided by G-d's Divine Providence).
Rabbi Yitz
Therefore a Ben or Bat Noach may freely explore and learn about the different cultural branches on this common tree of humanity - with the caveat that much of the philisophy, culture, art, music and literature of Gentiles throughout history has been involved with various idolatries. It is forbidden for a Ben or Bat Noach to read the books of the idolators that explain about their idolatrous services, practices and religious statutes. Nor may one dwell on these aspects of idolatry, except if certain limited information is needed for some specific and limited practical purpose. This is explained in "The Divine Code," Part 2 (The Prohibition of Idolatry), Chapter 2.

Included in learning about different cultures is that a Ben or Bat Noah may learn about Jewish culture and gain a basic knowledge of how the Jewish Commandments are observed. The limitations on more in-dpeth Torah study by Gentiles are explained in "The Divine Code," Part 1 (Fundamentals of the [Noahide] Faith), Chapter 5.
Thank You for explaining the difference between an inheritance from G-d and cultivated human heritage! I am very optimistic about the unifying factor of the Noahide Code that will unite the entire world under the G-d of Israel!

Yes, unfortunately, the nations of the world have been steeped in sin and deceit for far too long, and may G-d eradicate all their idolatrous fantasies. However, throughout history there have been extraordinary Gentile scholars who genuinely wished to reexamine the prevalent cultural values, and whose wisdom is not incongruent with the dictates of the Noahide Code. May we learn from their example, and may we emulate the example set by G-d's chosen people.


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