All Men are Created Equal
Reader: Ritual binds people together and gives cohesiveness. I have read many times that the rituals and prayers that every Jew is instructed in has bound them together for thousands of years. But Noahides are instructed to not create any rituals, and we don't have any. In my opinion, among the many reasons that Christianity has been successful is that it has a document (New Testament) that whether right or wrong, instructs them on who they are, what they should be doing, and how to do it. But the Noahides have nothing of this. Oh, sure, they may join in on the Jewish holidays, but there are no instructions to do so – it's just an option. Where is our instruction book for gentiles? To what has God held all people responsible for in times past when they could not read the Torah or did not have the Jewish people to tell them what the Oral Torah had to say?
When I as a gentile read the Torah, there are no instructions to me. Instead, I am left trying to figure out vague references and comments made to other gentiles in times past and am left wandering if that was an instruction to them, or just something they did because they chose to do it. Then I get to the section where God reveals and tells the people of Israel, sometimes in detail, wheat He wants them to be doing and how. But for the gentile – not much. There are no scriptures that direct the Noahide in what to do. I understand that the Torah is for all people (parts of it), but there is nothing that is for "us" – the Gentile God-fearers.
As a Christian, I had the New Testament which gave me instructions and something to hang on to. It gave me identity, ritual and a feeling of connection not only to God, but to the people around me that bore the same name. What opened my eyes was questioning the authority of the NT. Now that I do not recognize it as an authority and guide to my life – what do I replace it with? The Torah? But it does not instruct me directly, only in a vague manner. There is a quote from the book "The Hobbit" in which the main character (Bilbo) is lost in a mountain and states in a moment of despair, "I have lost my dwarves, my wizard, and my way" – that is how I feel. I have lost my guides, what I viewed as authority in my life, and my way. I find myself now with no real anchor and nothing to hang on to. No instruction book that I can say is for me and my people (gentiles). Not even a book in the bible that I can point to and say, "that is instruction for us and how we are to do things".
I have even read recently that there are those that believe Noahism should be a political movement and not a religion...great!!! Now I've got no religion as well. How do I have a relationship or follow what God wants me to do? Read the Torah? But there are no direct instructions to me or my people. No synagogues close by me; and even if there were, there would be little guarantee that there would be a Rabbi that would be willing to help...or knowledgeable enough! There have been times recently when I wish I had never questioned a thing, but stayed in my world of Christianity – at least I had something to hold on to, something I could read that was "to me" and gave me instructions and guidance.
Any advice??? Yes this may seem like rambling, but this is very important to me. I have read "The Rainbow Covenant" and "The Noahide Code", and though very helpful, I cannot consider them scripture. What can I as a gentile read that tells me what to do and how to meet with others and what we should be about? Is Noahism a religion or a political movement? When there are precious few Rabbis around, what do I use to guide my family – what do I instruct my children in, what do I give them as instructions, how do I tell them to have a relationship with God with no rituals, no direct instructions, no structure and nothing to call their own? —Thank you
Mesora: I empathize with you fully. But in a few moments, I feel you will find what you have been searching for. I say this with such conviction, since this past year, a number of Noahides and myself have been studying the various Noahide laws, as well as the philosophy behind the entire Noahide status, and God's relationship to both Noahide and Jew. But allow me to first address a number of your points.
I appreciate you need to have some anchor, or identity. we all do. This will come. But do not seek it in falsehoods. The false category of a "religion" is not proper to admire, as you do. You still value the cohesiveness of the Christians, as if that is a good in itself. It is not. The reason being, that all other religions are false. And admiring anything about a false notion, must itself be false.
The correct path is not to admire religions, as if they all possess some good. But you must change that view to "admiring a mankind that follows God". Don't subcategorize people into false groupings, based on fabricated religions. This gives those religions credence in your mind. In truth, there is only one group: "mankind". God desires all mankind to follow His one religion. And the prophets describe this as a future event. If you clearly realize the fallacy of other religions, your admiration of their cohesiveness will lose its grip on you.
You asked, "To what has God held all people responsible for in times past?" You are aware of the Noahide Laws. In the beginning of time, God gave man very few laws, since He equipped us with intellect. It was God's plan that man receive a law or two to express the relationship between God and man...that being "Master" and "servant". Once this relationship was expressed by God giving us His laws, we were to then use our intellects and continuously ponder the universe for the remainder of our lives and discover new truths based on creation, and God's interaction with man. God held (and holds) man accountable – not only for observing those few laws – but for following his and her intellect. But man's corruption created a need to change this plan, and a Flood was necessary, as were many new laws. Much of the Torah aims to remove man's idolatrous beliefs and tendencies. It was only due to these sins that Torah law addresses them. Had Egyptian and Canaanite man not become idolatrous and superstitious, no Torah law could say, "In their statutes [those idolaters] do not follow".
Torah Portions for Gentiles?
The means of "anchoring" yourself must be through interacting with like minded people – be they Noahide or Jew is of no consequence. The strongest bond a person can have with others, is created when people share lives led by truths, Torah study, and Torah morality. The Rabbis teach that the love of King David and Jonathan was the greatest love. It doesn't apply to these two individuals alone, but to any two or more people who live as they did, where Torah and truth is the greatest passion and value. You do not need to be part of a large group to gain a feeling of "being part" of something. Rather, seek to be part of "truth", not large groups of people. You will eventually find the greatest anchor with just a few people who share a love for God, truth and Torah. The intellect is more powerful than the emotions. It gives man his deepest sense of what is real. And when he reaches this level, where his sense of reality is dictated by reality, he then has no need for groups of people who do not share his passion. This is identical for any two human beings.
It is the human insecurity that we all have, which we must overcome. Yes, people need people, but not at the cost of abandoning truth. However, many people seek the company of many fools, assuming masses to always possess true beliefs. But we know this is false based on world religions where masses follow baseless stories. So instead of assuming falsely that there's truth in numbers of believers, we must stay true to what our minds tell us is true. It should also bother the intelligent person, if his beliefs don't rhyme with reason. But when our beliefs are proven, we will find that sensibility to be the greatest anchor, as this will please our minds, offering us the greatest sense of stability.
The portion for the Gentile is the same portion as the Jew. Rabbi Israel Chait recently lectured on Moses' murder of the Egyptian who had beaten the Jew. (Exod. 2:12) Jonathan ben Uzziel states, "Moses looked to see whether this Egyptian's offspring might convert to Judaism, or repent" before he killed him. Rabbi Chait stated a marvelous point. The fact is that a Noahide isn't required to convert. Nonetheless, before killing him, Moses prophetically sought to learn if any offspring would convert from this Egyptian. Why would Moses seek this knowledge, if Gentiles need not convert?
Rabbi Chait explained this teaches that Judaism is truly the preferred state for every Noahide...for everyone. Noahides are not required to convert. Yet, possessing a soul literally equal to a Jew and any other person, we must say one who forfeits conversion, thereby forfeits a perfected life. So as a Jew, I am required to make Torah available to you. It is my obligation to concern myself with the welfare of every other human being. And if the tables were turned and I was a Noahide, you would be required to make Torah available to me. In truth, the Jew is in service of the Noahide, just like he is in service of a fellow Jew.
This week's Torah reading describes the event of Revelation at Sinai. Why did the Jews merit to receive the Torah? It was based on the merit of their Noahide patriarchs and matriarchs. Before Torah was given, these few, perfected Noahides, namely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, earned God's attention, love, and Divine providence. They surpassed the level of their millions of "Jewish" children. And as all humankind stems from Adam and Eve, all humankind is equal. It is the ignorant and egotistical Jew who feels otherwise. In a past article, we addressed this point fully, completely dismissing all foolish claims that Jews possess superior souls. See it reprinted in this JewishTimes issue, entitled "Perfection". Talmud Avodah Zara (2b) teaches that God offered the Torah to all nations, thereby teaching that all nations have the capacity to observe Torah just like the Jew. All men are created equal.
If you study the Talmudic portions addressing Noahides, you will be busy for years. You will also learn that there is much more than 7 Noachide laws. And each additional area, like witchcraft prohibitions, contain many beautiful lessons. You will find that if you remain a Noahide, God talks to you through the Torah, Prophets, Writings and Talmud. You are far from a shepherdless flock. Noahide life is formally structured. You simply need to consult the correct sources. There is a wealth of knowledge in Avoda Zara and in Talmud Sanhedrin. Rabbi Chait spent years lecturing and recording a series of audible classes available under our Audio link. And we have recorded dozens of classes on Noahide law and philosophy this past year and a half, including many articles also under the Noahide Philosophy headings in our Philosophy and Audio links. This will greatly help you if you remain in your locale without personal contact with teachers. And your continued communication with us is welcomed. For even more study, Doug Taylor and Rabbi Morton Moskowitz offer weekly classes. And all of this is free. There is nothing preventing you from immersing yourself. Be in touch, and I will provide you, and any other person with more information.
In conclusion, Noahism is not a political movement. It is also not a religion, as if something separate from Judaism. Noahism may be defined as the minimum amount of Judaism necessary for any person to retain a right to life. For when man abandoned these few laws, God abandoned man, and flooded the Earth. But it is also not a system of perfection, as Rabbi Chait explained. We are all equal. We cannot explain why one person is born into a Jewish household, while another is born into a Gentile household...nor does it matter. Neither child is any better off in life simply based on who his parents are. Many Jewish children abandon or never receive Jewish education, while many Gentiles become the world's greatest leaders, as we see in Jewish history. Our greatest kings descended from Ruth the convert, as will the Messiah. God has no favorites. Whom does He favor? It is he or she who lives by His word, His one word given for all mankind.