Getting acquainted: Interview with a conscious Gentile

What follows are some questions that I asked a fellow Gentile who consciously follows the seven commandments to get a different perspective from a different part of the world. Enjoy.

What is your name?

Stiv

Where are you from?

France, also lived in Serbia (for 10 years) where my origins are.

What does the word “Noahide” mean to you?

It means to me: a way of life, a life connected and according to Torah and the Seven Laws given to Noah.

How long have you known about the Seven Universal Commandments? How long have you knowingly kept them for?

About the “concept” it’s almost 20 years.

The lack of available and accessible resources in French was a hindrance to the development of my knowledge on the subject. And resources in English were too expensive and difficult to access in France, and I didn’t had enough money to be able to by all what I wanted at this time. But this changed in the last few years and my knowledge has grown considerably since. So i would say that i “try at my best” to keep the 7 laws, with all the ramifications, and knowingly, since four or five years.

How did you find out about the Seven Commandments? Can you give a brief history on how you got to where you are ideologically?

First of all I have to explain several things. I was raised in a communist (but still mainly Christian oriented) country before moving to France, my grandparents and parents were not religious at all, I was never baptized. Even if it was not so strict about religious things as in other communist countries like Russia for example, my grandmother never liked priests, never wanted them at home, never seen her going to a church…so the only thing I’ve learned from her is to “fear God, and to always be thankful to God”, nothing about the divine concept of Jesus or anything related to and as classic Christian concepts. Maybe this distance from religion is related to the fact that she lost a part of her family during the WWII, with several of them deported to concentration camps or just disappeared.

My father was passionate by science so he gave me the love for study, logic and research, his concept of God was something very close to the classic concept in Judaism, but I understood that years after he passed away, I was too young to understand it at this time.

That said at age of 16-17 I was interested to read the Bible…so I made some research about in order to find an as correct as possible translation, or at least with some explanations about the translation. I did find one that seemed to be correct at this time and started from the beginning. It took me several months to finish it. I read what’s classically called the Ancient testament and the NT one also. To me everything I have read was related to Jewish concepts, even the NT since I’ve never been “polluted” by Christian theology, to me it was a related to Jesus the Jew, a man, a Jewish man nothing else. So to start digging I found some general books about Judaism and several about Christian concepts, and started to read in order to try to go further in my comprehension. Reading about Christian concepts seemed to me at this time as mythology, something not fitting in what I’ve read in the Biblical texts (later I’ve read other and mainly academic books about and understood how the Christianity that we see today evolved since the 3-4th century). A bit later I discovered some books from Adin Steinsaltz, and especially his “The essential Talmud”, after that I also read “Le livre brulé: La philosophie du Talmud” (The Burned Book: The philosophy of the Talmud) from Marc-Alain Ouaknin. Those books gave me the “hunger” to go further in my research, and at this time Adin Steinsaltz was invited for a documentary series about Jewish philosophy on French TV. In one of these documentaries he talked about the concept of Noahide Laws when asked about the view in Judaism of mankind… That was in 1994 approximately, that’s when I started do dig about the Noahide Code, only in poor available resources at this time, no internet, so it took time…years! But since 8-10 years resources started to be available easier, and since 2-3 years even English resources are easily available here in France, that’s a huge step forward.

What message would you want to pass onto the next generation if you could?

All fits in those two shorts quotes

This quote from Galileo Galilei:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

And this one from Albert Einstein:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”

What do you see as your life project? Is there something that you want to make sure you fulfil in life?

Build my family, study as possible as I can (Noahide Laws of course, but I’m also very interested in history, and science naturally since I studied Theoretical Physics). And do my best to build a Noahide community in order to spread the Noahide Code in the world.

What important lesson have you learnt from what you know about the history of the world?

To never forget our (mankind) history, crimes, atrocities… because if we do, we will repeat it again and again. I saw the civil war in ex-Yugoslavia, and the consequences.

What important lesson have your learnt from your own history?

Never lose hope in life, and always go further…This is related to how my grandmother and my father died in particular circumstances. (but I won’t explain that here as you can guess)

Has anyone been a mentor in your life or had a significant impact on your life? Without giving names, who is this person? or who are these people? And what was the impact?

As i already said my father gave me the love for study, logic and research. My grandmother was an example of kindness, and a justice seeker. And finally my mother gave me the “fighting spirit” in life.

Have you ever thought of becoming a Jew? If so, why? If not, why not?

No. I’m fine as I am… We all have our purpose and that’s fine. Also as I said my origins are in Serbia, we also have a strong identity, so one is quite enough.

Do you have a rabbi?

No. I knew several Rabbis but mainly are Haredi, very nice people and we had a lot of discussions about Thora but that’s all. Noahide Code was not their primary focus. But since I moved in north of France near the Swiss border, I met different Rabbis and one of them is also a scientist and have also a master degree in Halakhic philosophy or something like that, and he’s fine with the idea to help me to study the Talmud, I started but without some help by somebody who’s used to evolve in Talmudic texts it can be complicated… just need to find a schedule for that.

What resources have you used to learn about the Seven Commandments?

Mainly books, The Tanakh, Talmudic texts (only extracts in French at the beginning, but now I started to use the Artscroll Talmud edition since it’s easier to get it in France). Rambam’s and Ramban’s texts and lot of other jewish classics…

Recently I started to discover Hirsch’s work (his Chumash, his brilliant commentary on the Psalms …), and also Alan Cecil’s book (Secular by Design: A Philosophy of Noahide Laws and Observances) for a complete technical view on the Noahide Code.

Of course, internet is also a good resource, but I rather use books, my “old school” side!

Which of the Seven Laws most resonates with you?

The one concerning the legal system. Since I’m very concerned by social justice, this is one that requires a lot of investment, work, study… In order to build a better society, for us, for our children, for mankind!

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4 Comments

  1. Pat

    Thank you Stiv and David. I really appreciated reading that.

    • it’s worth a smile and a good hearted comment from you. Thank YOU!

  2. Another inspiration to keep going, to keep on learning and to keep on growing. Thank you for this.

    • It’s a blessing to encourage others. Stiv is a remarkable example.

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