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Is there an established study programme how to teach Noahides?

by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

  

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Question:

Is there any established study programme or any structure whatsoever how to teach Noachides according to the teachings of the Rebbes of Lubavitch or any other true source? How to start? Which books to read? How to live?

Answer: 

There’s been a lot of discussion on this topic — with little resolution. A collection of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s talks have been printed (in Hebrew) in “Kol Ba’ei Olam”. Your local Chabad rabbi (visit chabad.org to locate him) is likely to have that book. The only explicit statement of the Rebbe concerning study (of which I am aware) is that the second book of Tanya (order at kehotonline.com) is something all people need to know.

The Halachah is that a gentile is not permitted to occupy himself in Torah the same way a Jew does. Yet the Talmud also states that a gentile who is occupied in Torah attains that which is akin to the High Priest. How do we reconcile these two? The Jew studies all aspects of Torah whether they are of practical relevance to him or not — just for the sake of being immersed in Torah. The Ben Noach (Noahide) studies Torah to know and to understand his path. In a footnote, the Rebbe mentions that according to the Meiri, a Talmudic commentator, most of the Torah is of concern to a Ben Noach.

...the tzadik, Rav Azulai, instructed a BN to recite the Shema Yisrael every day
Concerning prayer: When the Rebbe’s emissaries told him their plans to present the Prime Minister of Canada with a silver Kiddush cup, the Rebbe replied: “What is he supposed to do with it? Rather, give him a Siddur (Jewish prayer book), since there are plenty of things in there for him to say.”

There is a careful balance here: We don’t want to create a new religion. Neither do we want Ben Noach to be emulating the practices that are specific to Jewish people. But every person needs to grow spiritually, and that does not seem possible without daily, meaningful rituals. Also, the path of the Ben Noach is integrally tied to the Jewish people, as stated clearly by the Rambam. Perhaps this is why the Tzadik, Rav Azulai, instructed a Ben Noach to recite the Shema Yisrael every day.

My sense tells me that in each part of the world, a Ben Noach will have a different approach, and they will each bring their particular wisdom into their practice. The Jewish people have always found much to learn from every culture we've come in contact with. The Talmud praises the Greeks for their sciences and beautiful language, the Persians for their modesty, the Romans for the honor they gave their fathers. In each culture, there are different sparks of the Divine which need to be used towards a Divine end. Therefore, it would seem counter - productive to provide a detailed prescription at this point.

From my understanding of what is expected of a Ben Noach, I have put together some suggestions. Your comments are welcome:

What to learn:

1. The Bible with classic Jewish commentaries (including the talks of the Rebbe, which are specific to our day and age), excluding those parts dealing with commands specific to the Jewish people;

2. The thirteen principles of the faith from Maimonides;

3. The Book of Knowledge of Maimonides;

4. Laws dealing with property and personal damages, including slander, gossip, verbal abuse, verbal pledges, cruelty to animals;

5. The second book of Tanya (this was explicitly mentioned by the Rebbe), as well as selections from the first; and

6. Stories of Tzadikim.

Morning prayer (all these in translation):

1. Modeh Ani—optional

2. Study and meditation

3. Adon Olam—optional

4. Psalms of Praise (as in the siddur) — optional

5. Shema Yisrael — first paragraph (this was an instruction of Rav Azulai, father of the Birchei Yosef, to a Ben Noach in his time)

6. Psalm 100 — optional

7. Recitation of the Noahide Creed — optional


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COMMENTS

Thank you so much!

Posted by: Steve on Dec 13, 2010

I am a gentile who has been interested in Torah for quite some time and this is the sort of thing I have needed to read for much of that time!

It is so good to read something with guidance as far as some of the more daily religious practice of a gentile, since most of what I have read has mostly emphasized staying very much clear of the parts of Torah and religious practice that is for Jews only. It's good to see something that gives suggestions on daily worship!

Thank you so much, Rabbi Freeman! :)


RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » Education
Jewish Identity » Non-Jews » The Role of the Non-Jew

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Maimonides
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Tanya
Foundation text of Chabad chassidism. Authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, and first published in 1796. Considered to be the "Bible" of Chassidism.
Psalms
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
Rebbes
Plural form of Rebbe. A Rebbe is a Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Rambam
Acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, widely known as Maimonides. Born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
Siddur
Prayer book.
Yisrael
1. Additional name given by G-d to Patriarch Jacob. 2. A Jew who is not a Kohain or Levi (descendant of the Tribe of Levi).
Shema
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
Tzadik
(fem. Tzidkanit; pl. Tzadikim). A saint, or righteous person.
Tzadikim
Plural form of Tzadik. A Tzadik is a saint, or righteous person.
Lubavitch
Also known as “Chabad,” Lubavitch is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. “Lubavitch” is the name of the Belarusian city where four of the Chabad Rebbes (leaders) were based. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York, with branches worldwide. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.