Two different roads – the Gentile and the Jew
Reading through Aaron Lichtenstein’s book, “The Seven Laws of Noah”, was enlightening for me. It was a very useful read. There is no perfect book, so it wasn’t without its controversial points but I believe it taught me some significant things.
One thing it showed me was that Gentiles are supposed to keep the Seven Laws and that Jews are meant to keep their portion of the 613 commandments.
Now I know some may think that I’ve stated the obvious. I’ve harped on about the distinction between Gentiles and Jews enough times so this should be basic stuff.
Yet the way he put it seemed to bring it into new light for me. To make sure I understand it, I’ll use my own words to describe what I think he means. If you want to look at the source, then read pages 94-95 of his book, The Seven Laws of Noah.
In the previous article, I referred to a specific Jewish commandment, the prohibition against appointing an unqualified judge. Now although the content of that command is relevant to Gentiles, the command itself, was not technically given to Gentiles. God never gave the specific command to Gentiles not to appoint unqualified judges. He gave that command to Israel. Now the content of that command is part of a general/broad commandment of “Dinim” or Justice given to Gentiles by God.
So, as Aaron Lichtenstein shows using quotes from rabbi Issi and the writer of Sefer haChinnuch, both a Gentile and a Jew may refrain from appointing an unqualified judge, but they do it from different places. A Jew would do this act because it was specifically commanded to him in his 613 commandments. A Gentile would do the same because of the general prohibition against injustice, the law of Dinim. The law given to Israel may not be exactly identical to the law given to Gentiles. In fact – and I may go into this in another article – there are parts of the specific law against appointing unqualified judges that seem a lot more relevant to Jews than to Gentiles. So the act of refraining from appointing an unqualified judge may be similar for Gentile and Jew, but the source of the act and the details of that commandment are most likely different.
And this could be the same for other commandments amongst the Jewish Torah law when compared to the commandments of the Gentile Torah law.
So just to restate simply, Gentiles and Jews may do similar acts, but when it comes to divine and legal (halakhic) responsibility, the source of the act should be different, and the details of their different set of commands can be different as well.
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