Introductory Note: Jewish Law (halakhah) generally prohibits teaching Torah to one who is not Jewish. (Unless s/he has been formally accepted as a candidate for conversion under the auspices of a qualified Beth Din.) Yet, clarifying the errors/distortions of Christianity, for example, may be permitted, as every person is entitled to learn how to live by the Noachide laws (which forbid idolatry).
Dear Rabbi Rashi,
The message below is from a Christian who reached out to me on LinkedIn [he likes my online Torah lessons] 😊.
He has excellent text-based questions in the Chumash and Nach. I told him that there is a (halakhic) issue of me using Oral Law to answer his questions. In this email, he states that he’s really seeking the Truth and if he discovered that Christianity is false, he would reject it for Judaism.
My question is whether his interest and relationship with me is at a stage where I can use Torah she-ba’al peh to answer his questions.
Here is the email from my American online follower:
Dear Rabbi T,
I am not quite sure how to proceed. I love learning insights of Jewish culture and customs. But if I were to make a drastic change like denouncing Christianity, I would need more concrete reasons to do so. I can’t blindly forfeit Christianity for Judaism, if no one will lead me into Judaism. I do not want to overstep my bounds, but if Christianity is wrong, I believe Torah will prove that. I am only interested in believing truth. In fact, I pray often to know what is true. But many of my questions are related to the Moshiach. And herein lies my conundrum. The scriptures I need to discuss, the rabbis are unwilling to discuss with me. I have felt a very special connection with you, and I believe that is for a reason. I would love to be able to respectfully discuss the full depth of scriptures with you. But that would only be by your permission. Please let me know your thoughts about this. Thank you for continuing to reach out.
Dear Rabbi Tam
Thank you for your question.
In brief, I would say that you are permitted to engage with him and his questions, to the extent that you feel he is genuinely seeking truth (as he avers). I would add, however, that (if it becomes relevant) you should be candid with him regarding the challenges facing one who seeks to actually convert to Judaism. In my experience, Christians sometimes imagine that becoming Jewish is broadly similar in process—even if not in belief–to (le-havdil) becoming Christian. Depending on where he lives, stage of life, personal circumstances, etc, becoming Jewish may or may not be achievable for him. But moving on from Christianity (at least in the direction of the Noachide Laws) should certainly be possible (also laudable).
I hope this is helpful.
Best wishes for continued hatzlachah.
Rabbi Rashi Simon