A Slavegirl that is Heir to Her Mistress by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

by tillerofthesoil

Ba'al ha-Sullam PortraitThe reason for the concealment of Kabbalah

Now you can understand the issue of the concealment of the hidden wisdom from the eyes of the outer ones, as well as what the sages said, “A gentile must not be taught Torah” (BT Sanhedrin 59a). There seems to be a contradiction between this and the Tanna debei Eliyahu, who said, “Even a gentile, even a slave, and even a slavegirl who sit and learn Torah, the Shekhinah is with them.” Thus, why did the sages prohibit teaching Torah to gentiles?

Teaching Torah to Gentiles

Indeed, the Tanna debei Eliyahu relates to a converted gentile, or at least to one who retired from idol worshipping, from superstition. Our sages, conversely, referred to one who did not retire from idol worshipping and wanted to know Israel’s law and wisdom in order to strengthen and fortify their idolatry. And you might say, “Why should we care if this gentile has become more pious in his idol worshipping because of our Torah? If it does not help, what harm will it do?” [see Maimonides on BT Sanhedrin 58b: ‘Resh Lakish said: A heathen who keeps the Sabbath, deserves death, as is written, And day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22), and a master has said: Their prohibition is their death sentence’—one is not permitted to make innovations in religion or to create new commandments. He has the privilege to become a true convert by accepting the whole Law’ (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Melakhim, 10, 9). On the prohibition against teaching Torah to gentiles (or the uncircumcised), see BT Ḥagigah 13a; Tanḥuma, Mishpatim 5; Tanḥuma (Buber), Mishpatim 3; Shemot Rabbah 30:12; Zohar 2:111b; 3:73a].

Rashbi’s Weeping

Indeed, this is what Rashbi cried for before he explained an important secret in the hidden wisdom, as is written, “Rabbi Shim’on wept, ‘Woe if I say it! Woe if I do not say it! If I say it, sinners will know how to worship their Lord. If I do not say it, the Companions will be deprived of this word’” (Zohar 1:11b) [cf. ibid., 3:74b; BT Bava Batra 89b].

He was afraid lest this secret would come by the hands of idol worshipers and they would perform their idolatry with the force of this holy mind. This is what prolongs our exile and brings upon us all the afflictions and the ruins, as we now see before us, since the sages of the nations of the world studied all the books of the children of Israel and turned them into delicacies to strengthen their faith, meaning their wisdom, called “theology” [cf. Zohar 3:14b].

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