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 HAAZINU AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Must it Be the Same Old Me?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Spiritual Climates
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Blowing Shofar
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

ArtScroll

Mankind's Song
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Heaven Help Us
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5770

Uniforms vs. Uniformity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

> True Foundation
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Nerve Centre of the Year
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Of Fashions and Foods
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Thoughts for Pre-Rosh Hashanah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

A Piece of the Puzzle
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

There is a Treasure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

A Time of Introspection
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

We Don't See the Whole Picture
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Perfecting the Balance
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774



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