Noachides and Lashon Hara


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Kent: Are guarding one’s words and evil speech incumbent on the Ben Noach, or is it specific to Jews alone?


Mesora: Kent, they are not obligatory as part of the 7 Noachide laws, but they will perfect a Noachide just as a Jew, and he is wise to be pure of heart, and avoid any destructive behavior.

Be mindful: the 7 Noachide laws are the “minimum” required activities to justify one’s existence. This means that by not fulfilling these 7, one does not retain his or her right to life in God’s eyes. Thus, additionally practiced laws will perfect a Noachide, over and above what is required, just as with a Jew. We are all of the same exact human design; we all come from Adam, and the commonly heard notion that Jews have a “Jewish soul” is baseless, and resides in man’s arrogance, not in reality. Thus, the laws will perfect us all identically. The 7 Noachide laws are the minimum, and not a “limit”. By all means a Noachide desirous of perfection should keep the other laws. The only laws a Noachide may not observe (unless he/she converts) are Sabbath and Holidays. I am of the opinion that Tefillin too must not be kept by Noachides for the following reasoning.

“And all the peoples will see that God’s name is called upon you and they will fear you.” (Deut. 28:10) Now, had a Ben Noach been allowed to wear Tefillin, this verse would make no sense. For why should a Ben Noach see a Jew wearing that which he too wears? Hence, I my mind it follows that a Ben Noach must not wear Tefillin. What is the reason and justice behind this law? Let us review a few verses.


Just as Sabbath is referred to as a “sign” (Exod. 31:17) so too is Tefillin, “and tie them as a sign on your hand”. (Deut. 6:8) On the Sabbath and holidays, the reason why the Ben Noach is not permitted to observe, is not so much for him, but for the Jew. By Noachides continuing to labor on the Sabbath, the Jew stands out in his day of rest. This “contrast” highlights the Jew as the one who is mimicking God’s act of rest, precisely for the goal of publicizing God’s name in the world. This publication also includes our education of mankind in God’s Torah. In order that those who know the Torah remain those who teach the Torah, they must retain their status as the sole Torah educators. This ensures that future generations will also benefit from the undiluted Torah system. But if a Ben Noach who is not as well versed in Torah rests on the Sabbath, he leads others to believe that he too possesses adequate knowledge of Torah, so as to act as a Torah authority. Of course, any Ben Noach who is so moved may convert, and become a leader on equal footing as one born Jewish, as many of our teachers have been.


Now, just as Sabbath is a sign, as it highlights the Jew’s special status, Tefillin too are viewed as a testament to God’s designation that the Jew teach the world: “And all the peoples will see that God’s name is called upon you and they will fear you.”  For this reason, the Tefillin contain central Torah sections, as this refers to the purpose of Tefillin: to designate the wearer as closely related to Torah. Additionally, these sections are arranged in order, but from whose vantage point? The onlooker. Thus, when one looks at the Jew wearing Tefillin, he knows the Torah sections contained are ordered from Genesis to Deuteronomy for the purpose of the onlooker to recognize. The onlooker – the Noachide – realizes the Jew as possessing the Torah. Thus, the Torah remains intact; as those who study it most, are both viewed as its teachers, and remain its teachers.


Since we are on the subject, I will mention an idea on Tefillin I heard from a wise Rabbi. He asked why the Tefillin contain central texts of the Torah, but these texts are never meant to be read, as they are permanently sealed inside the Tefillin. He said this teaches that the ideas of the Torah worn by us are to be integral to our natures. These texts are not to be read, as they are to refer to man’s best state, where he too contains the Torah’s principles, as if an integral part of his very being. The Torah’s ideas are not to remain as “things we follow”, but rather, “as part of our very nature”, just like Tefillin. The purpose of Tefillin is not to read their contained texts, but to follow the lesson of instilling our very selves with these ideas, until we become one with the Torah’s truths. They are no longer ideas alien to us, but we are so convinced of these ideas, and value them so, that they are to us as part of our very beings.