It’s a shame …
So I heard a conversation, a meeting, where statements were made which were significantly disappointing to me. In this meeting, a gentile said that his rabbi had taught him that the seven laws were those laws which were imposed upon “slaves” that the Jews had captured. This was said in a derogatory sense, more associated with the modern degraded concept of slavery and captivity than what was practiced by Jews according to Torah law. In that same meeting there was another person who appeared to be a rabbi who presented the seven laws as those principles that allow non-Jews to live ever so slightly above the level of animal, to barely exist as a backwards people. [The fact that, even in this day and age, the legal systems and cultural norms haven’t reached the standard of the seven shows that they are not so backwards or irrelevant.]
The issue highlights a problem I’ve talked about before, the issue of the great diversity of rabbis that are out there, giving different and conflicting messages. And we Gentiles are told how important rabbis are. A friend of mine says it’s important for a non-Jew to find one rabbi to learn from. There is wisdom in this advice that he gives, but experience has shown me that the advice also comes with a danger: getting connected to the wrong rabbi, even one who will teach blasphemy and the rejection of God’s truth veiled as “the importance of being more refined in behaviour and ‘spirit’.”
Let me again be blunt. I am saying that those who call any of God’s laws – be they any of the 613 laws or any of the 7 laws – backward, lowly, retarded, slavish, “bronze age,” they blaspheme, they insult and regard as trash gifts from God. And to trash the gift is to trash the Giver.
It’s not an easy road for the normal Joe on the road, especially one who sees the seven laws and wants to have them as the foundation of his morality. It’s not easy to be a decent human being when it’s easier not to be. And then you have the voices of various “experts” using sources you don’t know or may not have access to telling you different things. And the fact that they are experts, the title almost compels you to submit. They’re supposed to know better, right? Or the various conflicting experts can cause you to lose faith in the integrity of the truth.
We can only do the best we can. That’s the simple truth. All one can do is gather those foundational truths and be as consistent as possible. Mistakes must come. Argument and debates may arise. But aim is something greater than ourselves. Whether we see the aim as morality, justice and/or faithfulness to God, the aim of searching for and living in accordance with truth is to find a place called “home,” the place where one fits and can grow, maybe even to become unified with the purpose of all things.
But the pursuit for truth may mean that you oppose the “expert.” But the question is whether you’re consistent with the foundation.
My foundation is God and his written and oral tradition. I cannot forget the nation of Israel within which there were those faithful people who preserved the written and oral traditions. And the recording of the oral tradition, as evinced in the written Torah, is clear: God gave the seven laws to the descendants of Noah and it was confirmed to Moses at Sinai. More is expected but those seven are our fundamental obligations. If any expert, any rabbi, anybody who inverts or subverts the value of our laws, the study of which would make us like high priests, and depicts them as beggarly, as anything less than a gift from God is not worth a moment of my time (I’ll speak for myself).
Our responsibility has not changed. As the descendants of Noah, as the Torah states – the Torah which includes the Talmud – we Gentiles have our God-given commandments. As human being, tzelem elohim, we have the obligation to use our faculties to emulate the Judge who made us, in our rationality and morality. As long as the ancient sources teach this, no modern rabbi can change that!