Becoming the enemy
There’s a person online who I don’t respect. I personally have found him to be so wrong about the seven laws and what they teach, to have insulted them and their source, that I just do my best to stay out of his way. His name is Asher Meza, or George. I’ve shown my distaste for his teaching by creating two multi-video series of rebuttals against his earlier works. I mean, how can I respect the views of someone who calls the seven laws, God’s law for Gentiles, morally stagnant? Or how can I respect someone who says it is better for someone to be a christian, adopt a false religion, rather than just accept, obey and study the seven laws?
Recently, I was approached by a self-proclaimed “noahide” who, although professing to have greeted me with peace, proceeded to take issue with me regarding my views on a Gentile’s relationship to Sabbath in light of his or her core divinely given responsibilities, i.e., no relationship, after which I got laden by such appellations as deceptive, rubbish, having an overblown ego, outside of normative Judaism, apparently seeking to divide the Noahide movement, was verbally chastised for knowing a person called Alan Cecil and for writing an article I didn’t write (which was later brought down to dislike of me for sharing such an article on social media). I don’t know if I had had a worse online interaction with anyone else … actually, I think I have … but it’s like every response I gave only provided more fuel under his dislike of me. I’m not gonna pretend I was some angel, saying everything correctly. I’m sure I could have handled it differently, more maturely. But maybe I’m meant to get behind the wheel of a car and smash into a brick wall in order to teach me something, to bring me down to earth.
It’s important to note that I have never met this person in real life, we had not attempted to know each other on an individual personal level. It was just one stranger making grand statements about another stranger after 5 seconds of dialogue. Isn’t the internet ideal for those sorts of ignorant interactions? Don’t worry! I am including myself in the ignorance.
Some time after that unpleasant interaction, I realised something. For that “noahide,” I had become Asher Meza, I had become the enemy. Mentally, I was taken aback with such a realisation. I mean, who wants to be associated with their own pariah? And yet here I am. But then again, thinking about it, reminiscing, I remember other bitter dialogues with individuals who were/are considered of higher standard to me, even a few rabbis. I think that this is one of the first times I’ve thought about this, that there is a significant amount of people who view me as an “Asher Meza,” an enemy to noahides, a purveyor of deceit and lies, a cancer cell, a mouth that should be silenced.
Unfortunately for those people, I’m gonna continue writing and sharing my views.
“Now why would you do a stupid thing like that, David?”
Why? Well, for one, I’m only sharing my views. I don’t claim to be a rabbi or an authority or an authoritative teacher or even a teacher. I’ve always spoken and written on the premise that I’m only a fellow student, someone learning, someone who doesn’t know it all. Who am I to force my views on others?
And another reason is that I’m in love with the Seven Commandments and greatly honour their Source and the Source of many other delicious and uncomfortable teachings in the Torah. And, as with my music, the music I occasionally write and often play on my keyboard or guitar or sing with my voice, I express what I love. I don’t do it for fame, only to express.
That’s not all my reasons, but I think they’re some of the main ones. It may not be comfortable or easy going, but while I can, I’ll do it.
But for those who actually like me or what I write, and for those who don’t (it’s not as if I’m gonna filter who reads this), let me make one or two of my less popular stances be made known so you can either jump off the David Dryden express, or have a more solid reason to think I’m a pile of crap, or at least to get a clear idea about where I come from with things.
Firstly, I don’t claim to be a noahide or part of the Noahide Movement. Secondly, I don’t think it’s mandatory for Gentiles to listen to or obey or agree with modern rabbis and their opinions about what Gentiles should or should not to. Let me see, was there something else? Nope, I think that’s it for now. Oh wait, a small note. For now, I consider Alan Cecil to be a friend of mine. Ok, I’ll explain each briefly, but I’ve written articles on all but one of them so I’m not going deep.
Ok, so the “noahide” bit. How do I say this concisely? Should I give myself a word limit? Anyway, when I told someone that I personally refrain from using that appellation upon myself, that individual exploded into further resentment of me. “So you’re not a noahide???” He exclaimed. “So what laws do you follow? Are you now rewriting Torah?”
*I let out a despairing sigh and shake my head in incredulity*
For some, to call yourself a “noahide” is exactly identical to saying “I keep the Seven Commandments, believe God gave them to Moses at Sinai, and am a devoted individual.” Do you see how that’s almost the same definition of Rambam’s “pious of the nations of the world,” someone entitled to a place in the world to come (see Mishneh Torah, Judges, Laws of Kings and their Wars, chapter 8, halakhah 11 I think … I’m going from memory)? So to those people, me not calling myself a noahide means I reject all that stuff.
But, to be blunt, I conclude that the word “noahide” is literally an English word. It’s not in the Torah, as the Torah wasn’t written in English. So I’m not rewriting any part of Torah. It’s an English label people assign to themselves. Now I see in Torah (including the written and oral Torah in that) that there is an identity known as the ben Noah, a descendant of Noah, which, according to the Talmud and other places, refers simply to Gentiles on a whole in light of our divine obligations. So any Gentile is a “ben Noah” or a “bat Noah,” a male or female descendant of Noah in light of our divine responsibility as non-Jews, i.e., the Seven Commandments. No one becomes a descendant of Noah, except by simply being born to non-Jewish parents.
Also, a person can go through their whole life not applying some title to themselves, yet the content of their actions shows that they’ve kept the seven laws. So calling oneself a “noahide” is not incumbent on someone who obeys God’s laws for Gentiles. It’s about how you live.
Now, me eschewing the personal use of the label “noahide” literally says nothing about my affiliation to the Seven Commandments, only that I dislike an ambiguous English title.
I don’t regard myself as part of some movement, much less the so called “Noahide Movement,” and that is because I’m just a dude, mainly on his own with regards to his philosophy, just chilling with his fellow Gentiles in some part of the world. I’m not part of any group that I know of. My aim is not to forward the aims of some group. I just do what I can in my own corner with regards to sharing info on the Seven. Sure, I know people, other people who keep the Seven volitionally and knowingly, and who may call themselves “noahide,” but as far as I’m concerned, that’s all there is to it. I do nothing knowingly for this “noahide movement.”
I hope that makes sense to someone. It makes sense to me.
Ok. The rabbi bit. The Torah, as far as I know, gives the individual rabbi or Torah knowledgeable Jew no authority over Gentiles. Our own seven laws give them no such authority but state that we Gentiles are to set up our own seven law courts and administer our own Torah law. A rabbi or Torah knowledgeable Jew may be very conversant on his own Jewish Laws, his Jewish obligations, but have no clue about the Gentile Torah Law, or have a view of the seven laws distorted, yes distorted, by his immersion in Jewish culture. For example, a Jew has overt statements in Torah commanding him to know God, and thus may not grasp that the Gentile Torah law doesn’t contain that positive precept, our laws being mainly prohibitions, “negative” precepts. Such a rabbi or Jew may therefore intersperse his teaching the seven laws with implications that it is also commanded by God upon Gentiles to know God, a positive command. It may be a great and good thing for a Gentile to know God, it may even be part of our responsibility to attain that knowledge because we’re made in his image, but it is a mistake to declare that it is commanded by God upon Gentiles in a positive sense. And it’s a common mistake promulgated by Jews and rabbis. This may be part of the cause for the confusion amongst “noahides” about their relationship to Jewish festivals. Either way, an individual rabbi or Jew can be wrong with regards to the seven laws. It is the Gentile responsibility to learn his own laws, what is commanded or not commanded, what is prohibited and permissible, what is beneficial and what is not. Sure, rabbis are great teachers and can be oh so useful in learning about the seven laws and other teachings. But authorities over Gentiles they are not! And a Gentile is well within his rights to tell a Jew even a rabbi “no!” It’s not about ego. It’s not about a desire to supplant or insult rabbis. It may be that a Gentile learned Torah texts and teachings from one rabbi or set of rabbis, and then another rabbi tells him something else. That Gentile has to choose between one teaching and another, one rabbi and another, so he, being responsible for his own observance and actions, may have to say no to one or both of them. A rabbi cannot foist some rabbinical authority over a non-Jew and demand obedience. Apart from sharing the ancient, traditional teachings about the Seven Laws, the individual rabbi cannot create rulings and authoritative edicts over Gentiles. He can teach, show the basis of his reasoning, try to lead a Gentile to his conclusion, but Torah doesn’t grant him a “do whatever I decree” clause over Gentiles. We’re ultimately responsible for ourselves.
I don’t know about the authority of a proper Sanhedrin, an entity that hasn’t existed for centuries. So I won’t talk about that.
So I’m not telling people to be ig’nant and just give the middle finger to the rabbis on a whole throughout any age, no matter what they say. A Gentile must learn his responsibilities and become proficient enough to give proper justification for declining the advice of a particular rabbi, Jew or even a Torah knowledgeable Gentile. But in the same way, a rabbi has to give proper justification for a Gentile to listen to him regarding a certain conclusion of his with regards to Gentile responsibility.
Ok. I’m leaving that now.
Lastly, Alan Cecil. He’s a figure that doesn’t have an awful lot of fans in the “noahide” circles. He’s not to mainstream tastes. But I can’t deny his experiences or Torah training and knowledge, having learning from a different set of ancient rabbis than what the majority of other “noahides” I know speak of or quote. I believe he’s one of the few Gentiles that has been allowed to be taught in a Kollel. He and I have bitterly disagreed about certain subjects, like our views on Rambam and Chabad, but he is ferociously faithful to the halakhah of the Seven. Of course, like me, he has his difficult ways. He even calls himself … what was that word again? … a curmudgeon. If he disagrees on certain subjects, it’ll be hard to find an opponent more staunch. And if a Gentile is supposed to know basic subjects, you won’t get answers as concise and blunt. Having had to deal with a movement with so many individuals that seem so driven to creating a noahide religion or vocal about irrelevant issues, rather than being vocal against a political and legal system, a constitution, that opposes the seven laws, it’s understandable that he may have grown somewhat cynical and jaded. But that doesn’t bury or altogether sully his drive for seven laws. Oddly enough, he gets misquoted a lot and accused of things he doesn’t even espouse. But such is life.
Look, he’s my friend for now, possibly the longest online one I’ve had, one of the few people who I’ve actually had a real voice-to-voice conversation with. If people are gonna dislike me because of my affiliation to him … well … that’s your choice. It doesn’t move me much at all.
Anyway, that’s it, I think. Just learning more about how people see me, and making some things clear. Sorry if you don’t feel you get much from this article. If it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. If you do get something from this, then I hope it was positive. As for me, I just did what I do: I expressed myself.
All the best!