“Seven laws not enough” – the much needed detox
It’s nice to meet a friendly person. I did so recently, but in the midst of friendly dialogue, he said something that I felt needed a deep and reasoned response. And of course I gave that response … errr … well … well it seemed … … OK! OK! I ranted, alright! LoL! Yes, I think I ranted. A short statement of honest opinion gets a “David lecture.” I’m kinda sorry.
But I put a little too much effort in my response, too many words. So I thought I’d put it here where it can get a bit more selfish spotlight. [Damn, I’m really selling myself here, making myself look good! *sarcasm*]
Anyway, I saw a statement I had seen so many, too many times, that special days help people religiously and spiritually, and that the seven laws are insufficient and inadequate for the normal human being. Being me, that tugged a nerve so I … well, here’s a slightly edited version of how I responded. I’m sure my rating will increase when people realise that all this is a retort at 5 or 6 lines of text. And from a person who is actually being nice to me.
Personally, I feel that “spiritual” and “religious” are both vague and ambiguous terms that I don’t relate to. The amount of people that say to me “I’m not religious, I’m more spiritual” … each time I find myself wondering what they are talking about and I wonder to myself if they really know what they are talking about. Living in the UK, I find many people to be ignorant of these issues and seem to mix up so-called spirituality with just being over-sentimental or over-sensitive emotionally, and they seem to use “religion” to just … well actually that’s quite messy as well, as if they equate religion itself with God and with a inflexible negative institution. I tend to dislike using such words because of their vagueness. It’s for the same reason that I stay away from the term “noahide.”
I can understand being moral, or generous or rational. And I can understand the need to take focus off oneself, to focus on others or to focus on a greater cause. Those things to me are truly fulfilling or at least should be.
So while Gentiles are craving ritual, seeking out sabbaths or ritual days to keep or wondering about mezuzot and tefillin, I’m beginning to see that as not desires to worship God or get “close to him” but as relics and vestiges, baggage of the idolatry they left behind. Instead of trying to put their efforts into helping the community, like through volunteering to help the poor or striving to be a moral role model for those in their “mundane” or routine daily lives, instead of devoting themselves to becoming experts in the seven laws or general moral decency, be a better Gentile in their Gentile lands, they prefer to strive for Jewishness-in-action and Jewishness-in-ritual, deprecating the notion of being a “plain child of Noah,” associating the Hebrew terms that simply mean “of the nations” or “foreigner” with idolatry and paganism.
I’ve seen at least three obvious occasions where a Gentile who declared them-self beyond the seven laws or needing more show such a lack of faith, a lack of self-restraint in their language that they threw insults in a public forum no better in quality than the ravings of an atheistic drunken football hooligan (UK version of football) and even insult God’s laws for Gentiles like a God-rejecting blasphemer. And just like so-called “good cops” who silently watch a immoral cop do injustice or even protect it, other Jews and Gentiles who agree with the “group” or rabbis of those lout-mouthed Gentiles just stand back or continue the subject ignoring the vile diatribe, not calling out against the verbal vomit.
So when I read a genuine person like yourself repeat what I’ve heard from Gentile and Jew alike about the seven laws “not being enough for the average human being and thinker,” it somewhat pains me that even good people miss what the Talmud teaches about study of just those seven laws making a Gentile like a high priest. It should be known that the seven laws are not only “broad precepts,” and as the Sefer haChinuch implies, teaches about a greater morality that isn’t so bound to a legal obligation that would result in the death penalty, such as how the prohibition of stealing can teach about not “coveting” or immorally craving someone else’s possession.
And, me being an antiestablishmentarian, it’s always ludicrous to me that other Gentiles say so much about the seven laws not being enough, throwing down the law concerning justice saying it can’t be kept, while at the very time supporting political causes and governments that violate or undermine the seven laws as easy and as often as a human breathes. I laugh and sigh at the patriotic or nationalistic Gentile (and Jew at times) who say the seven laws is not enough. It’s like saying “a good simple meal with pure water are not enough” while feasting on processed and poisoned fast food.
So I respectfully disagree with you about 7 principles that say what not to do as not being enough. For a Gentile in an idolatrous and immoral culture (including the idolatrous worship of govt or the state), such a “simple” law does two things (amongst others): it gives the Gentile a strong and unrelenting detox against the idolatry and immorality within and without him; and it prepares his mind, his inner man, for actual closeness to God’s truth and morals just like the Hebrew word for “(divine) commandment” teaches about linking a person to God’s truth and drawing him ever-closer.