Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Noach

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

I was trying to decide upon a topic this week, when a dedicated reader from UC Davis asked the following (based upon something found in the Artscroll Chumash): "What are the 'seven universal commandments'"? Topic found.

Unlike the other religions of the world, Judaism does not believe that everyone must become "Jewish"; we neither solicit converts, nor do we suggest that everyone must follow our ways in order to approach G-d. Quite to the contrary! Maimonides in the laws of Kings (8:10) says:

Moshe Rabbeinu (Rabbi Moses) did not give the Torah and the Commandments to anyone but Israel, as the verse says, "The Inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob." [It was also given] to anyone from the other nations who desires to convert... but we do not force anyone who does not want [to accept them] to accept the Torah and the Commandments.

But even so, we are to be "a light unto the Nations" - and we pray that the day will soon come when "all humanity will call upon Your Name... they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of your Kingship...." Has G-d nothing to say to gentiles? How is a non-Jew to come close to G-d, to do His will?

The answer is that G-d gave seven laws (or more accurately, seven categories of legal obligations) which are incumbent upon all humanity:

1) Not to eat a limb or meat that was severed from a live animal

2) Not to curse the name of G-d

3) Not to steal or rob

4) Not to worship idols

5) Not to commit adultery or have other forbidden sexual relationships

6) Not to murder a fellow man

7) To establish courts of justice, to pronounce and mete out decisions for all mankind, and to ensure observance of the previous laws.

And with this, concludes Maimonides (8:11):
Anyone who accepts these seven commandments, and is careful to do them, this person is one of the 'Pious of the Nations of the World' and has a share in the World to Come. This is provided that s/he accepts them and performs them because they are G-d's command, part of His Torah, which our Rabbi Moses informed us were commanded previously to the sons of Noah.

In our day, there are scattered gentile congregations that have accepted upon themselves these "Seven Noachide Laws", the most well-known being a congregation in the southeastern United States led by a minister who found Christianity too inconsistent. Today, they invite a Rabbi to explain passages from Torah and Talmud related to the Seven Noachide Laws, and they study them on a weekly basis.


Text Copyright © 1994 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Living In Exile
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Into the Hands of the Few
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Our Noble Mission
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Help From Heaven - To Forget
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

Redeeming Factors
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Some on Chariots, and Some on Horses
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Essential Attributes of Being an
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Seeing the Plan to Fruition
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

ArtScroll

An End to Our Darkness
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

Estrangement from Siblings - A Kindness?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

The Miracle of the Oil
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

> The Whole and The Part - Part II
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

A Torah Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Reading Between The Lines
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Chanukah
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information