Beit Midrash

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Introduction To The Seven Noachide Laws


Rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman

As the author of the standard teaching guide to the Seven Noachide Laws of
the Jewish Torah for all non-Jews, 'The Seven Colors of the Rainbow',
Resource Publications Inc. S. Jose CA, I am glad to send you below and
attached information on the Laws, endorsed by the US Congress in 1991 and
subsequently as the true universal morality (House Judiciary Resolution 104,
Public Law 102-14).
The Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva was asked by a Roman lady - not Jewish -
'what has your God been doing since He made the world?' and answered, 'He
sits and arranges marriages'.

Behind all the individual commandments is the general concept of the
motive of the Creator, expressed in the verse, 'He formed it (the
world) to be settled' (Isaiah 45:18). This means that the 'settlement' of
the affairs of the world is a general Noachide priority, and that anything
conducive to this ethos of kindness, equity and understanding amounts to a
Noachide obligation. It is also apparent that the Noachide Laws are not
merely a means to happiness, even true happiness, but relate to the actual
reasons why the world itself was created.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe originally introduced the Noachide concept to the
non-Jewish society through the example of Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben
Maimon, 1138-1204, or 'Rambam' for short), since the 850th anniversary of
his birth fell during the 1980s and was commemorated by many nations in
addition to the Spain of his birth, with ceremonies and stamp issues.
Maimonides was the greatest Jewish philosophical writer, and an advanced
medical doctor, and his compendium of Torah law, the only complete one,
includes the Noachide Laws as a part of that completeness, reflected
likewise in his career and personality.

The Noachide Law has no war of religion, no imperative to conquer
unbelievers in the name of the Noachide Laws, and non-Jews are not commanded
to fight. Non-Jewish warfare is conducted only to maintain functioning
legality under the terms of the Commandment of Laws.

Non-Jews are enjoined under the Commandment of Laws to give charitable
donations to each other, not necessarily to the other party in any dispute,
so as to promote peace and reconciliation in society generally, and avoid
intensifying friction which can lead to lawbreaking, or hinder settlement
and thus compel people to take their disputes to court.

The history of the emergence of the Noachide Laws to consciousness took a
particular form during the Counter Reformation with the inception of
business corporations, which are Noachide-law entities, devised in their
present form during the period of collaboration between the Dutch state and
its Jewish community during the 17th century. The Jewish Bet Din cannot
create corporations, nor can any Jewish lay body, but rather they are
halachically held in being by the non-Jewish government, under a specific
Rabbinic ruling in the Noachide Commandment of Laws, and this government
with its duty of corporate regulation is responsible for all moral factors
affecting the public welfare. The medieval non-Jewish prohibition on
interest-bearing loans was likewise abandoned at the Reformation when
notification came, in the same locality, that the Noachide Law permitted it,
and this is the only reason why we have capital market, or independent
banking sector, as we do today.

The Noachide law gives such a high status to judges that they or those who
wish to influence them are presented with very great temptations to take the
law into their own domain. The Noachide civil law is constructed around the
concept of 'nimuseihem', meaning 'their
(non-Jewish) customs', and this is the autonomy of non-Jewish peoples to
decide their own civil pathways and procedures.
There are however elements of Noachide law that can only be decided by the
Rabbinic level, such as the law allowing limited-liability corporations as
explained, and also guiding principles that cannot be transgressed. It may
not be assumed for example that the corporate formulation can claim a higher
social priority and thus alter the laws of human relations because the
corporation is not itself a human being. Many people likewise falsely assume
that since the law often allows individuals to contract to exclude legal
provisions, this is also applicable to the basic spiritual laws of human
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