The Goy Can’t Know God

The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know God. (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and Wars, Chapter 12, Halachah 5. Can be read at http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188357/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-12.htm)

Based on these words, it was told to me that the entity known as the goy will not exist in the world to come. Why? Because in another place in Rambam’s work, he said,

A gentile [Heb. goy] who studies the Torah is obligated to die. They should only be involved in the study of their seven mitzvot. (ibid, Chapter 10, Halachah 9)

Therefore it was told to me that a goy would not exist in the world to come, the afterlife. The wording of the argument was this:

The goy spoken of [in the previous quote] that cannot involve himself in Torah except for his seven law won’t exist in the coming world.

If the occupation of the entire world in that time is solely to know God, and a goy is only supposed to be involved in the study of the seven commandments, none of which is to know God (there is only a negative commandment against idolatry, not a positive commandment to know God), then it would seem logical that no goy will be in the world to come.

It is believed that goy means idolator in the Mishneh Torah because Rambam said:

Whenever it is stated that wine is forbidden in this context, if the gentile who causes the wine to be forbidden worships false deities, it is forbidden to benefit from it. If he does not worship false deities, it is merely forbidden to drink it. Whenever we refer to a gentile [Heb. goy] without any further description, we mean one who worships false deities. (Mishneh Torah, Ma’achalot Assurot, Chapter 11, Halachah 8)

This is taken to mean the universal definition of goy throughout the whole of Rambam’s work, the Mishneh Torah, except for when there is “further description.” It is therefore taken that the goy who is not allowed to study the Torah is an idolator.

It must be stated that there is hidden assumption in the argument that was told to me. Those that say that there will be no goy in the world to come because goyim can only learn the parts of the Torah concerned with the Seven Laws, the assumption they make is that the knowledge of God is only in the Torah.

This assumption is roundly contradicted in the following quote:

These are the Seven Categories in which a Noahide could be prosecuted in a beis din [court of justice], or court of Jewish (or Noahide) law, the prohibitions of which were incumbent on each and every non-Jew. It is no coincidence that the discussion of the Noahide Law is found in the book of Sanhedrin, the tractate which deals with courts of justice. This code is to be the basis of a legal system, not a religion. As Rabbi Hirsch explained:

In view of Judaism, every human being is expected to recognize God and His attributes…only a purified awareness of God makes a man truly human. If I were gifted with the purest, most sublime perception of God and His attributes but had not crossed the threshold of Judaism, I would be nothing more (but also nothing less) than an ordinary human being. That kind of perception does not require a knowledge of the Torah. The very fact that this knowledge is expected of all men, including those who did not receive the Torah from God at Mount Sinai, is proof that such a knowledge about God does not require Torah study and that, through Judaism, the Torah was intended to give something additional and much more far-reaching to mankind as a whole … (Alan Cecil, Secular by Design, pg 402, quoting Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. VII, 33–34, emphasis mine)

Now think about it! A goy, even if that word is understood in the way presented in the original argument (meaning idolator), can be involved in learning philosophy, science, literature, bike-riding, loads of things that are in the world outside of the Torah tradition. So even in that world, according to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a human being, any human being, can recognise God and his attributes. In fact, the acquisition of that knowledge of God is simply part of being human, not only being a Jew. And, yes, even a goy is a human being.

So if knowledge of God can be attained without the Torah, then a goy can be occupied with knowing God without the Torah. Therefore a goy is not excluded from the world to come.

Another fact that contradicts the idea that the knowledge of God can only be found in Torah, in places unavailable to any non-Jew, is Abraham. He gained knowledge of God not through the revelation of Torah but through thought, logic and investigation of the world around him. These are aspects of the world open to any human.

Now all that was based on the idea that goy generally means idolator in the Mishneh Torah. This view is mistaken. The subject is covered quite concisely in a brilliant article called “How Rambam uses the word ‘goy”‘ which can be found at http://beingnoahide.com/how-rambam-uses-the-word-goy/. The examples given there, where the word goy is used without further description and doesn’t mean idolator, show me that the “goy means idolator” belief is incorrect. The word actually just means what it normally means, i.e., someone from the nations of the world other than Israel. In fact, the word goy means “nation”.

Once again, just consider for a few moments. If Rambam teaches that an idolator, a person actively serving idols, should only study his seven commands, is it even realistic for this person already immersed in idol worship to be studying his seven laws??? Speaking personally, it makes a whole lot more sense that the goy in Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings and Wars, Chapter 10, halakhah 9 is simply anyone who is not an Israelite/Jew, therefore a Gentile. And just as Jews are obligated in their commandments, we Gentiles are obligated in our seven commandments. Thus he’s saying that we Gentiles (non-Jews) should involve ourselves in the Torah laws given to us, i.e., the seven laws.

Anyway, I personally find the position that there won’t be a goy in the world to come due to restrictions on what one can learn in the Torah to be an untenable one. God didn’t lock himself in the Torah, nor did he keep general truths about himself only to those who are Jewish or who have learnt from them. As creator of the world and universe, his signature is in the world, in the universe, and it can be recognised by those who bear his “image,” which would be any human being. And yes, to say it again, a goy is a human being.

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