The Logic of a Voting “Noahide”

It’s gonna be easy for people to take personal offense at this post. But I’m gonna say it. I don’t write my posts to be liked, just to express my point of view.

How must the gentiles fulfill the commandment to establish laws and courts? They are obligated to set up judges and magistrates in every major city to render judgement concerning these six mitzvot and to admonish the people regarding their observance. (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and Wars, chapter 9, halakhah 14)

What is the obligation of a non-Jew according to Rambam with regards to Dinim? We are obligated to set up a judicial system which renders judgments concerning the other six commandments and to teach people regarding their observance of the law.

Anyway, to my mind, this justice which is enumerated among the Seven Laws of Noah is not limited to the establishment of courts. Rather, it charges the Noahites with laws on stealing, overcharging, withholding salaries, the liability of watchmen, rape, seduction, damages, bodily injury, loans, business transactions, and the like, similar to the laws with which the Israelites are charged. Thus, they place themselves under threat of execution by stealing, or cheating, or raping, or seducing another’s daughter, or burning down another’s silo, or injuring him, and the like. It is this same law that also obligates them to appoint judges in each town, like the Israelites. (Ramban, in his commentary on Bereishit 34:13)

Ramban, as he was critiquing Rambam’s view on Dinim, says that the Gentile obligation of Dinim is more than what Rambam says. So it includes the command to set up courts that uphold the seven, but it also includes the establishment of a civil system of justice similar to the one belonging to Israel.

How do we break these commands according to either view. Well, think about it! We break the positive aspect of the command of Dinim by not setting up such courts, by not establishing such a righteous justice system similar to Israel’s Torah. Although neglecting the positive side of the command is not the worst mistake one can make, it is still a mistake, and a grave one. This may even touch on the negative side of the commandment of Justice, which is the prohibition against the perversion of justice, which includes stopping the rendering of judgments according to the Seven Laws.

When a Gentile takes part in electoral voting in the current national political system we live under, it would take a specific lack of sense to believe that the candidates and political parties on offer are about “rendering judgments concerning the six commandments” or about being charged with laws similar to the laws with which Israel is charged. For the most, these are secular countries with secular political parties tasked with practically abolishing some of the seven commandments. That undercuts the Seven. So both sides of the command of Dinim are infringed upon. The proper courts are not being set up, the establishment and maintenance of a political system that ensures improper courts and laws are kept in place and supported by the voter.

For a Gentile that knows nothing about the Seven Commandments and who does this, they are simply immoral for this and other reasons. But a Gentile who calls himself or herself “noahide,” especially if they claim that the seven laws are nothing much and pursue the observance of Jewish commandments, this has to be a sort of hypocrisy. I’m sure there are excuses, like “I want to make sure the candidate supports Israel” as if faithfulness to Israel (something not commanded) somehow is more important than the actual commandment upon that “noahide” to set up righteous courts and laws and a justice system in our own lands. Or maybe they think that by taking part in this corrupt system, they can nudge it in the way of going in accordance with the Seven Laws (even though none of the candidates or political parties esteem faithfulness to the Seven in word or in policy).

Let’s apply this logic to any of the other commandments and see if it works.

Ok, let’s start with idolatry. OK, so I’m going to partake in idolatry, I’m going to worship other gods for noble intentions. Yes, by worshipping other gods, I can nudge things towards the worship of the one true God. Or maybe the idolators are more Israel-friendly. OK, what about a step back? I’ll support the idolators in their idolatry, even though I have the choice without consequence of leaving them to their own designs. I’ll willingly fund their services and help them set new priests in place. Why? Because I’ve got to take part in the system (idolatry) to change the system (idolatry). Makes sense, right?

OK, what about theft? How about I join a gang and participate in their thefts? And the reason? It’s noble of course. I want to change that gang from the inside. They give some of their plunder to Jewish charities. Sound good, huh? They are not coercing me to be a part of it. I just think I should because I want to make a difference. That’s a great reason to take part in the theft, right? OK, maybe a step back. I’m not part of the gang, but, without coercion, I support them, fund them willingly so that they are more able to do their robberies. I may even help choose who their leader is. Maybe he’ll make decisions that will lessen the theft. Hopefully through supporting the mafia, I can change the mafia.

I don’t know about you, but at least for me, I find the logic fails for the other commandments. And again, for me, the logic fails with regards to the law of Dinim as well. It’s almost as if, in the minds of these voting “noahides,” the commandments are given different weights, some being more important than the others, some being more serious than others, even though the oral tradition places the same severity on each one. For those that have already started trying to spread themselves to Jewish commandments, it seems the ones God actually enjoined on Gentiles have been forgotten in a back pocket or a back alley or some dark cupboard somewhere.

A friend of mine uses the term “Reform Noahide,” the sort of Gentile who exchanges parts of his or her actual commandments for what he or she deems to be more “spiritual” endeavours in the Jewish commandments. It’s hard to fault his understanding when such behaviour is observed.

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