A Gentile Questions Judaism’s Principles
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
An intelligent gentile and I have been in touch for a number of months; she asks pertinent questions to determine which religion is God’s religion. I share our discourse to help others.
Sharon: I am uncomfortable needing to learn the 7 Noahide laws from Jews because:
1. Gentiles are portrayed as incapable of knowing God’s will on their own, it contradicts how Abraham came to realize what is true.
2. It frames any good that a Gentile does as not performed "in reverence to God" [since the gentile is not “following” any divine laws, but acting based on subjective thought].
3. The ability of Jews to teach gentiles the 7 laws is unfathomable. Based on the sheer magnitude, and the ratio of billions of gentiles to millions of Jews, how can so few Jews teach all gentiles?
Rabbi: 1. We must distinguish between what man (Abraham) can self-discover, and what he cannot. Abraham studied the universe and discovered reasoned proofs for a Creator and a Governor. Any person can. But without communication (prophecy) he could not determine what are God’s “commands.” Thus, you, I, and anyone cannot determine God’s commands without prophecy. This is no shortcoming; we can’t read God’s mind. Therefore, as the Jew—and no other nation—possesses divine communication, a Jew and gentile equally require Biblical study from knowledgeable Jews to learn of God’s commands. But anyone can study the universe to realize that its highly intelligent design requires a Creator, as was God’s plan in permeating the universe with His wisdom in every square inch.
2. True, without knowing that God commanded a specific law—such as charity—one’s charitable act cannot be said to be “following God.” This applies to Jew and gentile alike.
3. Despite relatively small numbers of Jews, Internet and other mediums allow few people to reach innumerable masses. Additionally, God assists any human being in his/her pursuit of truth, so He can override natural considerations to make truth reach such perfected gentiles as yourself.
Sharon: In addition, the Jews I encountered with online (except for yourself) see themselves fulfilling a mainly priestly role and see the teaching of Torah truths to humanity as a secondary one, or not of much importance. These truths are revealed to counter missionary propaganda, not to actively teach the truth seeking Gentile like myself.
Rabbi: We must not judge Judaism based on Jews. Jews' corrupt acts contradict why God elaborated on Abraham's life: he epitomized the perfect human; one who reaches out to all people to teach and benefit them. It is due to Abraham's concern for all others that God said He would not keep disclosed from Abraham His plan to annihilate Sodom (Gen. 18:17) as God desired Abraham to teach His justice to others: "For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right..." (Gen. 18:19). Another splendid lesson is that with these words, God interrupted the vision Abraham was now perceiving: the vision in which Abraham energetically served the three wayfarers. Abraham hosted an elaborate meal for total strangers, so he might share his teachings with them. This perfection, this concern for all other people, was underlined by God by His immediate interruption of this vision with His forecast of Sodom’s destruction. God aligned the revelation of His justice with Abraham's acts of kindness precisely to teach that Abraham's concern for all mankind earned him God's favor. There is a relationship between Abraham’s kindness and concern for others, and God revealing His plan, which He desired Abraham to share with mankind. God's Judaism differs from man's Judaism. God's Judaism is concerned about all individuals. God did not breathe souls into people as a futile act. Corrupt Jews boast a sinfully disgraceful superiority over the gentile. But of course, they cannot defend their position, based on this verse and the actions of our leaders Moses and Joshua: both married converts. Our greatest kings David and Solomon descend from Ruth the convert, as will the messiah. Clearly, gentile and Jew area equals. From the story of Jonah, whom God sent to warn the gentile city of Ninveh to repent, again we witness God's concern for mankind; the Jew is not His only people. And when God threatened to destroy the Jews for their Gold Calf sin, Moses expressed concern that this would ruin God's fame in Egypt's eyes. Even though Egypt enslaved us, Moses still cared that all mankind obtain a just opinion of God. And Moses again cared for Yisro, and spent much time teching him about God. I am happy to share that my community treats gentiles as equals, and teaches them freely with love and respect. I am sorry that other Jews are not following God’s lessons.
Sharon: What is the role of the Jewish people? To show the world that God exists?
Please explain this verses:
“And you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…” (Exod. 19:6)
Rabbi: God gave the Torah to the Jews to teach the world. A priest is one who ministers, and our ministering is to teach the world God's will so all mankind follows His will.
Sharon: “But when they came to those nations, they caused My holy name to be profaned, in that it was said of them, 'These are the people of the Lord, yet they had to leave His land.’ Therefore I am concerned for My holy name, which the House of Israel have caused to be profaned among the nations to which they have come. Say to the House of Israel: ‘Thus said the Lord God: ‘Not for your sake will I act, O House of Israel, but for My holy name, which you have caused to be profaned among the nations to which you have come. I will sanctify My great name which has been profaned among the nations—among whom you have caused it to be profaned. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord’—declares the Lord God—when I manifest My holiness before their eyes through you.” (Ezek. 36:20-23)
Rabbi: God is concerned that the Jews profaned God’s name through their coerced exile [God’s promise of Israel was not fulfilled in the Jews’ exile from the land] so God will correct this error so the world nations will respect God and benefit from His truth.
Sharon: Please explain these verses:
“This is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom I delight. I have put My spirit upon him, He shall teach the true way to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1).
“I created you, and appointed you. A covenant people, a light of nations” (Isaiah 42:6).
“All the nations assemble as one, the peoples gather. Who among them declared this, foretold to us the things that have happened? Let them produce their witnesses and be vindicated, that men, hearing them, may say, “It is true!” My witnesses are you —declares the Lord— My servant, whom I have chosen. To the end that you may take thought, and believe in Me, and understand that I am He: Before Me no god was formed, And after Me none shall exist” (Isaiah 43:9,10).
“For He has said: 'It is too little that you should be My servant in that I raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel: I will also make you a light of nations, that My salvation may reach the ends of the earth'” (Isaiah 49:6).
“Behold! Darkness shall cover the earth, and thick clouds the peoples; But upon you the LORD will shine, and His Presence be seen over you. And nations shall walk by your light, kings, by your shining radiance” (Isaiah 60:2,3).
Rabbi: These verses share the one lesson, that God selected the Jews to bear His Torah and teach the world. We are not superior in design; only in our mission are we different from other nations. Mankind—gentile and Jew—all descend from the same couple; the Jews’ capacity is equal—not superior—to all mankind. But our "duty" differs: to share God’s Torah with the world. This is our “light unto the nations.” This also explains the many Biblical occurrences of “One Torah for the Jew and the convert” (See Exod. 12:49, Num. 9:14, Num. 15:15,16, Num. 15:29). If the gentile were inferior to the Jew, he could not obey the same system. But God says otherwise, that the convert observes the Torah just as the Jew. Thus, we are equals.
Sharon: Where does one start to learn the 7 Noahide laws?
Rabbi: You are doing so in our conversations. As questions arise we will discover what the Talmud prohibits and why: The 7 Noahide laws are idolatry, adultery, murder, stealing, eating the limb of a living beast, establishing courts and not cursing His name. The Rabbis teach that subsumed under the Noahide prohibition of idolatry, are all forms of superstitions, witchcraft and the like. We thereby learn there are far more than 7 Noahide laws. You can locate many essays on Noahide law and philosophy under Mesora.org/Philosophy and Mesora.org/Audio
Sharon: Finally, what of the Muslim/Christian claims that the Jews lost the transmission, or their role as God’s chosen?
Rabbi: We ask shoemakers and not plumbers how to make shoes. Reason demands that we inquire from those, who alone received God's communication, to learn what is God's will, than to ask stangers and impostors to whom God never spoke, and therfore, cannot possess His word.