By Rav Yoel SchwartzTHE COMMANDMENTS DEALING WITH
MATTERS BETWEEN MAN AND G-D
The basis of all commandments is the belief that G-d who is the creator of all things, and capable of doing everything has commanded us to fulfill them. Habakkuk summed it up by stating that a righteous person shall live through his belief. Also in Chapter 9:23 of Jeremiah it is stated: "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the L-rd which exercises loving kindness, judgment and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I have desired saith the L-rd.”
The Gaon, Rabbi Shmuel Ben Hafni, stated that the important commandment for the people of other nations is the belief that the L-rd our G-d is the Creator and director of the world, that He is actively involved in the lives of every person and that He is One.
The Rambam writing to Rav Hasdai stated: “Quoting from our sages, the righteous people from other nations have a place in the world to come, if they have acquired what they should learn about the Creator."
In the category of the belief in the one true G-d, the seven commandments to the children of Noah include the prohibitions against worshiping other gods and against blasphemy (which includes professing atheism). There are, of course, many commandments connected with the belief in the one true G-d. They include:
(b) Praying to Him;
(c) Thanking Him for His generosity;
(d) Trusting Him;
(e) Honoring Him;
(f) Sanctifying his Holy Name;
(g) Prohibiting the desecration of his Holy Name;
(h) Moving away from those who do not believe in Him such as atheists, infidels and impious people;
(i) Having a direct relationship with Him, not through any intermediaries. This is why it is forbidden to pray among others to any
angels or to the dead or to any person past, present or future!
(a) Loving G-d: Inasmuch as the Israelites were commanded not only to love G-d, but that they should also teach all mankind to love G-d, we see that all people are supposed to love Him. One of the first to do so was Abraham the Patriarch (Sifri Vetchanan), and in the Sefer Mitzvot it says, “This mitzvah [loving G-d] includes that we should call every human being to believe in Him and worship only Him. ----you should see to it that he becomes loved by your fellow men just like your fore-father Abraham did."
(b) Praying to G-d: Noah was punished for not praying so that his fellow men might be saved from the flood. According to the sages, this is the reason that the flood is named after Noah. However, the destruction of Sodom is another case. This event is not named after Abraham because he did pray to save the people of Sodom before it was destroyed. One type of prayer is a request by a human being to G-d. There is also a thanksgiving prayer that is an important obligation from a person for all the things for which he is thankful such as: his occupation that gives him a livelihood, health, family, etc. and especially if something good has occurred to him personally. This brings us to thanksgiving.
(c) Thanking G-d for His generosity: Again the best example is from Abraham. In the Gemara Sota: 10, Abraham in Beersheva would invite people to eat and drink with him. At the end of the meal he would request from them that they should bless and thank G-d for his generosity.
(d) Trusting in G-d: Joseph was punished, and two years were added to his prison term because he requested help in getting a prison release from Pharaoh's wine chief instead of putting his full trust in G-d.
(e) Honoring G-d: To honor ones father and ones mother is a threshold to honoring the heavenly Creator Father who begat us. One should honor and give credit to all wise Torah teachers and sages, especially those who teach you Torah. He who does not fully honor his Torah teachers dishonors G-d. A person must be very careful in fulfilling this commandment. To give honor to G-d, he must give honor to the Torah and to its wise teachers. Honoring G-d even extends to honoring elderly persons because these persons have most likely witnessed in their lifetime many instances of G-d’s intervention. The importance of fulfilling oaths and vows made in G-d’s name can be understood in the framework of giving honor to G-d.
(f) To be willing to make every effort for the Sanctification of His Holy Name: There are opinions that in some situations, a non-Israelite is even called upon to die as a martyr to protect the honor of G-d (i.e. not to worship other gods). All agree that he must be willing to die rather than to commit murder. The person must know that everything occurring is according to the will of G-d and accept it without complaining against Him. This commandment is part of the previous one.
(g) Prohibition against desecrating G-d’s name: This was one of the reasons that the people of Sodom were punished. In this respect a G-d fearing person must be especially careful in the manner in which he conducts himself. If he does not act properly, others will point to him and say. “Look how unethically (or however badly) that person is acting and he is a believer in G-d.” This is desecration of His name in an indirect way.
(h) Not Having Fellowship
with or Doing Business With Unbelievers and Impious People: Relations
with unbelievers are only for the purpose already mentioned before. It
is the duty of everyone to ensure that all human beings believe in the
one true G-d and do His will. Consequently a person must be extremely careful
that he does not bring another person to sin by his association with the
ungodly. Psalms 1:1 says. "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the
counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the road with sinners nor sit around
with a bunch of clowns.” This is especially true when participating
in religious services where the ritual or sermons, songs or prayers are
violating the Torah.
Walking in the Halacha:
Faith is imounah, what you believe,
while Halacha means how you walk or conduct yourself in practice of what
you believe. We do the things we do because we are what we are. A man will
practice what he believes. If he professes to believe in righteousness,
but practices unrighteousness, he is a practical, practicing atheist. "Noah
was a righteous man in his generation.” "Noah walked with G-d.” "Noah found
grace in the eyes of G-d." (Genesis 5:8, 6:9)
HALOCHOT (THE LAWS)
THE LAWS OF BELIEF
(1) It is a commandment (mitzvah) for a human being to believe that there is a creator of the universe, that He is Eternal, the First and Last of everything. He is One, and there is no unity comparable to his or G-d outside Him. His unity cannot be multiplied or divided. He is exclusive in his unity, and there is no other like Him in the universe. There is none other or any other sources that have His power or His capability. All the sources of power and energy in the universe stem and come from Him.
(2) It is a commandment for a human being to study his belief, and to observe the creation to see and to recognize His greatness. It is written in Isaiah chapter 40, “Lift up your eyes and see Who created these.”
Similarly he should study history to observe what has happened in time past and present: It is also commanded to observe what has happened in history to see how G-d has been in charge and the One who rules over all events. "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the L-RD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.”
(Deuteronomy 32:7-9)"Remember the former things of old; for I am G-d, and there is none else; I am G-d and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;" (Isaiah 46:10-11)
Israel was created by G-d to receive the
Torah and give the prophets to a pagan world that had many thousands of
gods. Israel’s unique prophetic character is different and separates Israel
from all other nations. Israel is the only nation on earth whose entire
history was written before it happened. The Jews mission against a polytheistic
world has had an unbelievable impact against polytheism. Even the atheists
say, "There is no G-d." They do not say, “There are no gods.”
(3) It is appropriate to speak aloud what you believe in order to strengthen the conviction in your heart. For example: There is one God and His name is One. (Zech. 14:9). There can be no compromise on pronouncing aloud this belief. The Torah concept of God does not allow him to have a split personality. It is worthwhile to say different basic concepts of belief toward the one true G-d loudly and clearly, such as the affirmation, (Shemah Yisrael) “Hear Oh Israel…” (from the Bible and the Hebrew prayer book). Here are other sentences that are worthwhile repeating at regular intervals, since they are among the basics of belief:
· I believe with a complete belief that
the Creator, blessed be His Name, He alone, created and made all the created
He alone made, is making and will continue to make all things.
· He is One, and there is none other like Him, in no way or manner. He alone is our L-rd in the past, present, and future.
· He does not have body. Nobody can be like
Him, and no imagination can detail or describe Him.
No picture can depict Him; no image can portray Him. No material can contain His essence.
No wood, no stone, no plant, no star nor constellation can be compared to Him.
· G-d is first and last. Of no man can this be said.
· To G-d and G-d alone we should pray, (meaning that no use at all of any mediator should be made in a prayer between man and G-d.)
· G-d knows all the thoughts and actions
of a person. He pays good wages to those who do good while punishing those
who do bad.
The most significant compensation will be in the next world (after death). There will also be worldwide compensation with the coming
of the Messiah. After that, there will be a resurrection of the dead.
· G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people
so that they merit all of humanity. This Torah has never changed and will
never be changed.
Part of this Torah was given to the whole human race. Another part of the Torah was given only to the Israelites. (Every human
being can join and be part of Judaism by conversion, but a person is not obligated to do so.) If a person fulfills the commandments
of a son or daughter of Noah, then that person will have a part in the world to come.
THE PROHBITION AGAINST DOING THINGS THAT ARE AGAINST THE BELIEF
(1) It is prohibited to worship any other god, in any form or matter at all. If a person is forced to do so, he should try as hard as possible not to carry out such a demand. If he is being threatened by death, there are those that believe that he should be willing to die as a martyr if he does so while being witnessed by ten Jews or ten people of other nations who worship only the One true G-d.
A person is not allowed to give honor to
other gods, to hug or kiss them; to swear by them, to bring them into his
home, to pray to or worship them. He is not allowed to produce an idol
so that others can worship it. He is not even allowed to produce it for
artistic purposes. He is not allowed to participate in any rites connected
with the worship of other gods even if this person is passive and does
not take any active participation in it. All this is so that he will not
be misunderstood and cause others to sin because of his action. It is the
duty of a person to degrade and hold in contempt all other gods or any
form of idolatry.
(2) To deny the existence of G-d is worse than worshipping other gods. Some maintain that this is included in the prohibition of worshipping other gods. Others maintain that it is considered blasphemy since there is no greater insult to the one true G-d than denying his existence.
(3) It is appropriate to refrain from the following because they too are considered related to the worship of other gods:
a. Dealing in magical traits, such as predicting
with the aid of a crystal ball, or hypnotizing yourself so that you can
predict the future
or dealing in black magic or trying to predict the future through other means such as horoscopes or things like that;
b. Believing in superstitions, such as bad luck because of a black cat or good or bad luck connected to certain numbers;
c. Gathering animals for magic, like hypnotizing them;
d. Dealing in spiritualism;
e. Trying to communicate with the dead.
THE PROHIBITION AGAINST INSULTING AND OFFENDING THE HONOR OF G-D
1. The prohibition against cursing G-d by His name or by any other substitute
for His name.
2. The prohibition against denouncing G-d or his Torah;
2. The prohibition against asking philosophical questions about what occurred before the creation of the world.
We should only observe what has occurred since the creation and this is so that we can try to realize and grasp the greatness of the one true G-d as we have already previously mentioned;
4. It is prohibited to interbreed animals or plants that are not of the
5. It is prohibited to take on or initiate
a new religion. But Noahides, fulfilling the seven commandments (mitzvot),
are not taking on a new religion since these seven commandments are mentioned
in the Torah. Noahides may perform commandments that were given specifically
to the Jews in the hope that they will be rewarded for them, provided that
they don’t consider these actions obligatory.
It is also important to note that according to some opinions there are some commandments that Noahides should not fulfill because they are connected with holiness and given specifically to Israel. These are the commandments of Tefillin and mezuzah,. All agree that the child of Noah should not observe the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as Shabbat, as given to Israel as a day of rest, but it is appropriate for him to inculcate the message of the Shabbat, as will be explained further on.
According to Rabbinic literature, G-d does not want people to question matters connected with that which existed before the creation. As creatures in creation; we can only comprehend God in and through creation as Creator. “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him” (Psalm 8:3) Only the Torah existed before creation. David declared in Psalm 119: “thy word, oh God is from everlasting to everlasting.” “By your Torah you created the worlds (and ages).” (Psalms 33:6)
Genetic engineering is a delicate subject.
There is room to postulate that engaging in some kinds of genetic engineering
constitutes a violation of the prohibition to crossbreed. Since the prohibition
of crossbreeding does not include hybrid breeding of plants and animals
and breeding to develop a hybrid within a species of like kind the same
can be said regarding some kinds of genetic engineering.
Even if it is permitted, those dealing in this field must be careful that through this work they will not feel that they are capable of divorcing themselves from G-d and His creation, that scientists will not feel that they are capable of creating independently from G-d, like Adam in his first sin.
THE COMMANDMENTS (MITZVOT) CONCERNING HONORING G-D
1. A PERSON MUST HONOR GOD AND HIS TORAH, including the sages, teachers of Torah, elderly person, holy books, holy places like houses of prayer and cemeteries where (Tzadikim) are buried. If a person makes a vow in G- d's name, he must fulfill his oath. If he does not make the vow in G-d's name but pledges to do something for someone else, he must fulfill it. It seems that this is true even if he made the oath to himself or concerning only himself. In doing so, one honors himself. A person who makes a vow to himself in the name of G-d is honoring G-d by fulfilling it. If a person makes a pledge to a fellow man, he must fulfill it since it is in the category of civil laws that are incumbent on Noahides. By not fulfilling pledges, vows, oaths and covenants, one dishonors G-d, Torah and himself.
2. Before performing any work or whatever it is suitable for a person to say that he will do this thing with G-d's help, in order that he will remember that all of his successes are derived and come to him only through G-d.
3. A Noahide, to fulfill the seven commandments,
should strive to learn carefully and seriously all his obligations concerning
all the seven commandments of the children of Noah. If there is a problem,
or if the person does not know exactly how to fulfill a certain obligation
as a Noahide, he should turn to a Jewish Torah authority who is acquainted
with the subject matter to make a decision on the issue or question. Any
learned Jew can teach non-Jews only if he himself is a Torah observant
Jew. He must believe that God gave Moses the written law and also the oral
law. He must observe Shabbat and Kosherut and the other Mitzvot.
Noahides are not commanded to have formal
prayers. It should be left to the individual how, what, and when he will
pray. Prayer is permitted, but not commanded. There are several types of
prayers; requests, recognition of G-d’s grandeur, thanksgiving to Him for
good things that He has done for a person and strengthening ones faith,
as it is stated in many places in the book of Psalms. It is advisable to
turn toward the direction of Eretz Yisrael, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount
A Siddur for B'nai No'ach should be established for these who wish to have guidance in prayer. Below are some suggestions for formal prayer that might be included in a B'nai No'ach Siddur:
1. Regular prayers might be said everyday that could include a statement saying, “And you shall know today and have put it before your heart, that G-d is the L-rd and there is none other than Him." Also he might recite the affirmation,“Hear Oh Israel (Shema Yisrael)”.
2. Prayer in time of emergency or danger: A person who finds himself in danger should recite an appropriate chapter from the book of Psalms, for example, chapter 20. If the emergency is due to illness, chapter 103. If he needs to strengthen his belief in G-d so as to receive His help, chapter 121.
3. A Prayer of Thanksgiving: Psalms, chapter lO7 or chapter 136. In the prayer emphasize, “and all the living will give thanks to you. Sela.”
4. Special prayers during holidays: It is worthwhile to pray for world peace. When saying such a prayer, one might say, "G-d of the world, give peace to the land and allow all living creatures which you created, to enjoy all of your blessings.” On the Sabbath one should recite from the book of Psalms, chapters 92 and 104.
5. Blessing before or after the meal: It is worthwhile that after the main meal of the day (whether at noon or in the evening) a Noahide should wash his hands if they have become soiled during the meal, (There is no command for the Noahide to wash his hands in a ritual matter as do the Jews. This is a Jewish custom. It is, however, necessary to wash before a meal for sanitary reasons.) and give a thanksgiving blessing to G-d for the good that He has given to him. It can be something like this: “Blessed are You, King of the Universe, Who feeds the whole world with His goodness, pleasantness, grace and mercy. He gives bread to all flesh and the world is full of His mercy. Due to his great goodness, we have never lacked and will never be in need of food forever. His great Name feeds and gives everyone his livelihood, does good to everyone, and prepares food for all those that he has created.” A person can, of course, change this, especially if some good things have occurred to him lately. Each person individually should say this prayer not just by one person. He must say these prayers directly to G-d and not through any intermediaries. Again this is optional and not required.
6. Repentance: A Noahide who has sinned
against G-d or his fellow man must repent and be sorry for what he has
done. He must undertake that he will not commit this sin again. He should
make a personal prayer to G-d, requesting mercy. If he has hurt a fellow
person, or if he has done damage to that person's property, he must compensate
him, as the people of Nineveh compensated each other, and he must request
that person's forgiveness.
PROHIBITION TO INFLUENCE AN OTHER PERSON TO SIN
There is a prohibition against causing another person to err or commit sin as Pharaoh accused Abraham (Genesis 20:9) and the same concerning Avimelech who accused Isaac (Genesis 26:10)
In accordance with this, people should conduct themselves with modesty so as not to bring others to sin. In particular, women should apply this to their mode of dress and behavior.
A Noahide should not observe the Shabbat in the manner that a Jew does. A Noachide should not give occasion for a Jew to break the Shabbat.
There are those who say that every Ger
Toshav (a non-Jew living in Eretz Yisrael in the time of the Jewish
Temple, who has formally accepted the obligation to observe the Noahide
laws in front of a Jewish court) has to uphold and keep the Sabbath.
(Rashi, Kritot 9, Yevamot 40) There is room to suggest that the
Noahides, even nowdays, by accepting to fulfill the seven commandments,
are in the same category as a Ger Toshav and should, according to Rashi,
be required or at least allowed to keep the Shabbat.
So I (Rav Schwartz) would like to suggest that this is the way that the Noahides could celebrate the Seventh Day, a day of refraining from his vocation. On the eve of the Sabbath (Friday night), they might have a festive family dinner with special food and light candles after sundown in honor of the Seventh Day, which was given to Adam and Noah (and to make the Noachide celebration of the Shabbat distinct from the Jewish Shabbat observance). During the meal they may sing songs to strengthen their belief, including songs about the creation. They may read from the Torah. They should not call this day the Sabbath, but the Seventh Day as it is written in Genesis.
On the Seventh Day itself, if they can arrange it without difficulty, they should refrain from going to work. If possible, they should go out to the fields or a park so as to feel close to the Creator of the world. If the congregation holds a prayer session, they may recite the Psalms connected to the Sabbath and to the creation (like Psalm 104, “The Blessing of the Soul”).
Also they should study portions of the Torah connected to commandments of the children of Noah. They can study from the weekly portion of the Torah being read that Sabbath in the synagogues those subjects which concern all mankind and skipping those topics that concern specifically the Jews .
At the end of the Sabbath (Motzai Shabbat), the end of the Seventh Day and the beginning of the new week, they can recite the prayer for the new week (Havdalah) after having lighted a candle, a small torch, to thank G-d for having taught Adam how to make fire, which is the source of all energy that enabled man to make changes in this world. This Havdalah prayer, that separates the Seventh Day from the beginning of the week can be recited as a Noahide wishes and can go something like this.
"Blessed are you our G-d, King of the Universe, that differentiates between darkness and light, between day and night, between the seventh day from the first day of the week, between the clean and the unclean, between the sacred and secular, between holy days and regular days, between Israel and the rest of the nations, who together are partners in one holy objective, to make Your Name holy in this world." AMEN.
Which is the first day of Tishrai is a day of reckoning for the whole world. The first day of Rosh Hashanah should be a day of repentance and deep inner thought about what a person has done during the past year. A Noahide should recite a prayer requesting that all the people of the world will accept and recognize the truth concerning the one true G-d. A Noahide can recite certain prayers from the Rosh Hashanah prayer book.
Yom Kippur is a day of repentance. While it is not a Noahide fast, repentance is a Noahide necessity.
Succoth (Feast of Tabernacles):
It is stated in the book of Zechariah that after the Temple is restored, during the holiday of Succoth all the nations of the world will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to bow down before G-d. Zechariah 14:1-21 states:
“And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which come against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the L-rd of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the L-rd of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain, there shall be the plague, which with which the L-rd will smite the nations that come not up to keep this feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses Holiness Unto the L-rd; and the pots in the L-rd’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the L-rd of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them and boil them; and in that day there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of the L-rd of hosts.”
It is worthwhile for a person to take his vacation during this time. By doing so, a Noahide can use this free time to study, to observe nature and to meet with fellow Noahides for mutual prayer with emphasis on world peace just as Israelites did when the Temple existed and, as sacrifices were made for the welfare of all the nations, to pray for the coming of the Messiah who will amend the ways of the world.
Noahides are called to celebrate the victory of Judaism over Hellenism since this victory showed the world the strength of the Israelite’s belief in the one true G-d, their true devotion and dedication in keeping the Torah and its commandments. It is also a time of special prayer for the restoration of the Tabernacle, the Temple and divine worship.
Passover, The feast of freedom:
Passover is the first emancipation proclamation. It is advised that Noahides during this holiday should put a special stress on freedom for all humans. Although we do find slavery in the Torah, we must remember that the slavery mentioned there is a humane slavery. If one has a slave, then be a merciful master. Thoroughly cleaning (“spring cleaning”) the house before this holiday would be a reminder of the slave labor of the Jews in Egypt. It also brings to mind the benefit that the exodus from Egypt brought to the world, a cleansing from the bad habits of mankind.
On the eve of the first day of Passover, Noahides should hold a festive meal with matzo and wine in honor of freedom.
Holiday of summer and renewal of the human race: It is a day that should be set aside for the study of Torah and the Noahide commandments.