The non-religious view of a Noahide

Does being a Noahide mean that you are part of a religion? Depends how you define the words. I’ll just take one definition and run with it.

In one way, being a noahide has nothing to do with a faith system. It is simply what you are if you are not a Jew. It’s the same as saying “gentile” or “non-Jew.” When it says that the children of Noah were given seven commandments, that simply means that all humanity were given commandments, God commanded all of us. He later gave further commandments to Israel which set them apart, but the rest of the world still has 7 commandments to keep.

In this way, as a Noahide, a gentile, you have a choice: keep God’s commands or not. Today we have no court system that enforces the 7 commandments (so our governments have made their choice). This simply means that it is now the choice of individuals to choose God’s commands or not (the notion of “no courts, thus no Noahides” makes no sense).

It is still very much our responsibility,­ our duty, to learn our commandments and do them to the best of our ability, not simply for reward, but because we respect and honour the God who gave the commandments. And until the rest of the world embraces the responsibilitie­s or the God, we can encourage others to live justly with decency and respect for one another, first by example and then rightly placed words.

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2 Comments

  1. By definition, a Noahide is one who BELIEVES (accepts) that Moses instructed the Jewish people to disseminate among Gentiles the 7 Laws of Noah. The 1st law, the most important one, without which all the others are worthless even if they are kept via good rationale, stipulates he must believe in God, Who gave the Torah to the Jews via Moses. This belief is the bedrock of his Noahide faith, just as the 1st commandment in the 10 commandments serves as bedrock to all the other 9, for the Jew. Without this first prerequisite, the Gentile cannot be a Noahide, even, as said before, he keeps all other laws because they make sense to him, even if he believes in God by his own rationale but denies the Moses aspect of it.

    • The article stated, “I’ll take one definition …” Therefore it is understood that, since “noahide” is a made-up english word (technically, I’m specifically referring to “noahide” not the the hebrew term “ben noach”), it may have various meanings.

      Also there is nothing in the etymology of the ENGLISH word “noahide” that causes the word to accord with your claim that “by definition, a noahide is one who believes that Moses instructed the Jewish people … [so on and so on]”. The etymology of the word “noahide” shows that it simply comes from the word/name “Noah”. Your claim looks like a re-wording of Rambam’s definition of what makes someone a “pious one from the nations of the world” or a hasid umot olam. I know there are some who equate “noahide” with hasid umot olam. It’s their choice as they can impose what they like on the English word. It’s not my choice to bind myself to their impositions.

      The commentators of the commentary of Ramban on the Torah (artscroll, graff-rand edition) would disagree with the exclusive doctrine that “by definition, a noahide accepts that the Jewish people are to disseminate the 7 laws among Gentiles.” He states, “‘Noahides’ is a term for ALL mankind except Israel.” So he doesn’t restrict the usage of the word to “only those Gentiles that accept a certain belief,” as you have. Also rabbi Michael Broyde would disagree that your definition is the only one. I would even say that the Talmud’s usage of the word “ben noach” (a term also said to be linked to the word noahide) conflicts with your statement that by definition the word “noahide” means such a Gentile must believe what you say about the Jews.

      “The 1st law, the most important one, without which all the others are useless …” Which command is that? Dinim, as the talmud lists it? And please provide the source and reference to the claim that some first law for Gentiles is the crux of the 7 laws. As the laws I’ve seen listed are prohibitions and not positive commands (only Dinim has a positive aspect halakhically according to the Talmud), then the first law could only be either a prohibition against worshipping idols (not a positive command to believe in God or Israel) or a prohibition against injustice (involving minimal courts that uphold the seven laws). So please provide a source for your claim of some “first” and foundation law that God commanded Gentiles. You seem to be overstepping the words of Rambam, turning a (reworded) prerequisite for being a hasid umot olam into a prerequisite for some “gentile faithe system” or religion.

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