Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Attitude Towards Other Nations



Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Av 27, 5768
I am an Orthodox Jew interested in the topic of gentiles and the seven Noachide laws. Just today I was flipping through a book about the halachot of the sheva mitzvot, and they seem to be SO strict, like a Non-Jew would violate the law of sexual morality by hugging a member of the opposite sex or winking in a suggestive way. Also, I read that they must keep the laws only because G-d commanded them, not just because they seem logical. What non-Jew even knows these things? Suddenly, every single Non-Jew seems evil and lacking any hope for the world to come. This troubles me because there are many good Non-Jews out there, as I’m sure you can attest to; people who believe in G-d, but are hopeless because they give their uncle a hug or leaned on a car and "stole"??!! This seems outrageous and hard to accept. Oscar Schindler and other gentiles who saved lives, and Jewish lives, but definitely violated these nuances, have no share in the world to come? This depresses me and makes me question the validity of our faith. Could G-d be so cruel to his creations?
There is not necessarily a correlation between the strictness of the restrictions of Bnei Noach and an evaluation of one's worth or character. This applies to Jews as well as Non-Jews, The stringencies in the laws for Non-Jews may imply a more mechanistic approach to their observance, or may indicate a higher level of expectation, but that is not to say that they measure the entire personality. Further, the rules you have mentioned have to do with a Halachic court judging Non-Jews, but need have no connection to the coming world. I am aware that the Rambam defines a "Chassid Umot Ha'olam" (righteous gentile) as one who accepts his Mitzvot because they were commanded in the Torah. This would eliminate almost every gentile in the world today. However, the Me'iri recognizes a value in any monotheistic ethical religion. This part of the issue require intensive study, but is not indicative of the normal status of the individual gentile. I know of no obligation to think badly of Non-Jews or to consider them as inferior, whether as a group or as individuals. The chosen status of the Jewish nation obligates us in a way concerning which Non-Jews are exempt. This also gives us certain opportunities for achieving levels of closeness to HaShem which are not readily available to the Non-Jew. Rav Soloveitchik was known to be concerned with the spiritual awareness of the gentiles whose acquaintance he made, as were other gedolei Torah. Again,one should be careful about placing philosophical ramifications on each specific Halacha. The rules for Non-Jews concerning their Mitzvot need not have bearing on their spiritual status.
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