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    A few weeks ago,
    we discussed the
    debate between Rav
    Shaul Yisraeli and
    Rav Shlomo Goren
    regarding the siege of
    Beirut. As mentioned,
    on August 6th, 1982,
    then Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Shlomo
    Goren published an article in the
    newspaper Hatzofeh in which he argued
    that, according to Jewish law, the siege
    must allow terrorists to escape the city.
    Understandably, this caused a bit of a
    furor and Rav Shaul Yisraeli wrote a
    letter in response. Rav Goren responded
    in turn and the exchange was published
    in Hatzofeh on Sep. 17th. The next year,
    Rav Yisraeli published an article on the
    subject in the journal Techumin (vol. 4).
    One issue that Rav Yisraeli addressed
    is that his letter was intended to be a
    private note to his friend, Rav Goren. He
    never intended for it to be published for
    the broader public. However, Rav Goren
    wrote a response and forwarded both the
    letter and the response to the newspaper
    for publication. Rav Yisraeli objected

    to the publication of his private letter.
    Rav Goren later said that he had asked
    the newspaper to obtain permission
    from Rav Yisraeli before publishing his
    letter, but that never happened and Rav
    Yisraeli was upset. In other words, it
    was the editor’s failure that caused the
    problem. Rav Goren then wrote a public
    letter apologizing but arguing that even
    though he would ask for permission to
    publish someone else’s Torah insights,
    he believes that it was not necessarily
    halachically required. Rav Yisraeli then
    published that letter (presumably with
    permission) along with a response in
    the journal Techumin, vol. 4 pp. 354-
    360. Here are some of the sources and
    Rav Goren begins with two texts that
    seems to contradict each other:
    1. The Gemara in Yoma (4b) learns
    that you may not repeat something
    that you hear because it says (Lev.
    1:1), “Now the Lord called to
    Moses, and spoke to him from the
    tabernacle of meeting, saying.”
    The last word — “saying” (leimor)

    — seems redundant
    because the next verse
    begins with “speak”
    (dabeir). The Gemara
    explains that “leimor”
    teaches us that you
    have to receive explicit
    permission in order
    to repeat something
    you are told. This is
    quoted in the Magen
    Avraham (156:2).
    Presumably, one
    would therefore not be
    allowed to publish a letter without
    permission. You may not reveal
    someone else’s words without their
    explicit permission.
    2. However, the Tosefta (Bava
    Kamma ch. 7) states that someone
    who “steals” (overhears) someone
    else’s teachings may go and
    repeat the teachings. There is no
    problem with stealing someone
    else’s Torah, although it might
    constitute misleading someone if
    you take credit for Torah insights
    that you did not develop. However,
    if you do not take credit for it,
    then there should be no problem..
    The Shach (Yoreh De’ah 292:35)
    rules, based on this, that you may
    copy Torah insights from someone
    else’s book even if he doesn’t want
    you to do so. Therefore, it would
    seem that one would be allowed
    to publish a letter of Torah insights
    without permission.
    Which is it? Are you allowed to
    steal someone else’s Torah insights
    and repeat them without permission?
    Or are you forbidden from repeating
    someone’s words without explicit
    To explain the contradiction between
    the above two sources, Rav Goren
    posits that the Gemara in Yoma
    was referring to non-Torah related
    material while the Tosefta deals with
    Torah. You need permission to tell
    someone general information you
    hear. However, Torah belongs to the
    entire Jewish people. It is something
    for which we all have a mitzvah to
    learn and teach. You do not need
    permission to repeat a Torah insight
    that you hear from someone else – in
    fact, doing so is a mitzvah. Therefore,
    technically you are allowed to publish
    a letter of Torah insights without

    permission. However, as a matter of
    politeness, it is always best to obtain
    explicit permission.
    Rav Yisraeli disagrees with this analysis.
    He responds that the contradiction can be
    explained based on the rule that one must
    review one’s Torah thoughts multiple
    times before teaching them in public,
    to ensure that they are properly thought
    out and appropriately worded. While
    Rav Yisraeli does not quote this saying,
    it is appropriate: “Not everything that is
    thought should be said; not everything
    that is said should be written; and not
    everything written should be published.”
    According to this understanding, if you
    tell someone privately a Torah insight
    he may not repeat it without permission
    because it might not be sufficiently well
    thought out for public consumption.
    Hence, the Gemara in Yoma which
    forbids revealing what is told without
    permission. However, an individual
    may intentionally overhear (“steal”) a
    Torah insight that is not ready for the
    public, if he himself will also not reveal
    it to the public. Either way, a letter that
    was written for an individual should not
    be shared with the public because the
    thoughts might be insufficiently worked
    out or not worded optimally.