Gentiles, Jews & Creation
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
David: Dear Sir,
Firstly I would like to say thank you so much for the resource that you have made available to all, including the non-Jew. It is been over 2 years since I abandoned Christianity and the acceptance of Jesus as any sort of messiah, and your resources, both article and audio, have been a great source of knowledge for me. Before you, I had almost totally rejected the authority of the rabbis. Although I still don’t have the amount of respect for them or the oral law that you have, I now see a lot of depth of wisdom in what they say.
I need to ask a question to you for your input and advice. I’ve read on your website that Noachide shouldn’t keep Shabbat. I come from a point of view that says that non-Jews can keep Shabbat. At first I though there was only one way to keep Shabbat: i.e., completely. But after looking at your website and the words of the Torah, I see part of what you’re saying about the fact that the Shabbat is a sign for Israel, like circumcision was a sign for Avraham and his descendants. But I do see parts of the Torah that talk of the ger, the sojourner, the resident foreigner, keeping Shabbat as well in Exod. 20:10; 23:12. In Isaiah 56 it talks of the “ben nechar”, the foreigner, using the same words as Exod. 12:43 for one who cannot keep Pesach. I know of the words “grasp my covenant” and am uncertain about its meaning, since I note that if it were talking about circumcision or becoming a Jew it would more likely use “ger” as opposed to “ben nechar”, since a ger was more likely to be circumcised. According to one website which is Noahide, it says that even Rashi says it is ok for a non-Jew to keep Shabbat:
“Every Noahide who renounces idolatry needs to keep the Sabbath, says Rashi, the great Torah commentator - because every act that desecrates the Sabbath is itself a species of idolatry.” (Rashi on Yevamot 48b)
But the point is that a Ben Noach CANNOT observe the Shabbat the same way as Israel. Some say he has to do something a Jew cannot do during that day in order to make it special to Israel, while still commemorating the day the Almighty made distinct, special and holy.
What do you say concerning all I have put forward? Does this appear correct to you, that a Noachide can keep Shabbat, but not as the Jews? I hope you are not offended by my question or irritated, but I am trying to discover truth and what is right in the eyes of our Creator, whom I do desire sincerely to please.
I also would like to make a comment. I’ve heard some of your teachings, and when it concerns the age of the universe, you refer to Shroeder’s book, “Genesis and the Big Bang” and also point to relativity. I don’t see the need for this at all (please don’t take my tone as disrespectful, just emotive). Firstly the Big Bang is not factual, but a theoretical hypothesis concerning the history and development of the whole cosmos based on a lot of naturalistic thinking (naturalistic, meaning the philosophy that rules out the supernatural creator, but only relies on natural causes and forces, material and natural energy). It is not factual, because there are many holes in the theory, many just-so stories, and the theory itself is inherently unscientific and metaphysical because it extrapolates, speaks of things outside known parameters (relatively billions of years outside of man’s experience and observation), and is not testable or observable according to the scientific method. The circumstantial data used to promote such a cosmology can be interpreted numerous ways other than such a cosmology. And in order to really prove or “promote” a theory about an expanding universe with no center and no edge (which I believe to be an irrational concept) takes one to a position outside the universe in order to objectively verify it, i.e. in the place of Deity, even as a thought game or thought experiment, as Einstein is prone to doing. Plus, he didn’t prove relativity (taking “prove” to mean ”show to be true”) since there are paradoxes in his theory, but he postulated it and it might have some strengths. Although there may be evidence that backs it up and there is a majority of people who agree with it, that evidence has been questioned, and a majority doesn’t make things right. An example is that the majority of scientists believe that all life descended from common single cellular ancestor and that humans descended from an ancient monkey/ape, a concept that is terribly flawed yet widely accepted.
This is not to say Einstein is totally wrong. But this is to say that since we cannot fully understand the mind of Deity or His methods of creation, it is questionable to promote a certain theory (i.e., the big bang), which, although may point to there being a beginning and thus a first cause, does negate the plain understanding of scripture and is flawed, fostering a opposing philosophy.
I hope you will answer the parts of this e-mail that you can. I know it may be rather long, but I hope and pray it has not been disrespectful, and that it can be taken as being from one who is searching for the truth, who fully accepts the Deity of Israel as Hashem alone, Deity in the heavens above and in the earth beneath (Devarim 4:39), and who is open to teaching and correction.
Thanks for your time and your wonderful services. You really give a guy like me hope that he really isn’t alone in the world.
Thank you for your letter. I agree with much of what you have said, although I am not expert on Big Bang theories.
I do agree and see as proof for the 16 billion year age of the universe from stars: we see a star, and can measure its distance as X light years away. Seeing that star, means that the light emanating from it had many light years (millions of years) to reach us. Thus, we prove that the universe must be at least that old, since the light took that long to reach us. Another Rabbi explained this theory to me, which I see as irrefutable proof.
Regarding creation ex nihilo (out of nothing) we may refer to the Rabbis’ statement and plain reason: something cannot create itself. Thus, there was some initial creation of matter out of nothingness.
And yes, a gentile can keep Sabbath in an incomplete fashion, so he is not actually keeping “Sabbath” per se. A gentile may not keep the Sabbath for the reasons I explained on Mesora. RainbowCovenant.org misread Rashi on Yevamos. Please inform them. The Rashi is read as follows:
“Ger Toshav [this refers to] one who denounces idolatry but continues to eat non-Kosher meat, and the Torah warned him on Sabbath, that he must profane it as an idolater.”
This last line was misread on Rainbow’s website as, “a profaner of Sabbath is akin to idolatry.” That is an incorrect reading, which misled RaibowCovenant.org to think it means a ger “must” keep Sabbath.
Here, Rashi is defining who is a ger Toshav (righteous gentile): he is one who is not Jewish, and yet denounces idolatry. Not being Jewish means he does not have to abide by Kosher laws, so he eats non-Kosher. Nonetheless, he must NOT observe Sabbath completely. And any partial Sabbath observance where he violates even one Sabbath law, is acceptable, and considered as if he did not observe Sabbath at all. It is also commendable when a gentile observes Sabbath 99%. How is this commendable? The answer is that he too will perfect himself by Sabbath laws, exactly as a Jew. For all men are equal, and a Jew has nothing different in his make-up over the gentile. Our difference is in “designation” by God to teach the world about God’s Torah. Other than that designation, we are identical to gentiles, for we all descend from Noah. Hence, we benefit equally from the Torah’s laws. The only reason a gentile may not fully observe Sabbath is that by doing so, he blurs the line between Jew and gentile. Both behaving identically would mislead others to seek out gentiles as Torah authorities on par with Jews. But since gentile are not obligated in 613 commands, their diligence will not be as the Jews’, and their learning will not be as complete. Since God desires that the world attain true Torah knowledge, He forbade the gentile to assume complete semblance to the Jew in practice (observing Sabbath is prohibited) thereby limiting Torah authorities to those most versed in Torah. This benefits Jew and gentile alike.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim