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The Seven Noahide Laws in light of Kabbalah

by Yermeyahu Bindman

  

Library » Jewish Identity » Non-Jews » The Role of the Non-Jew | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The Seven Laws... 

G-d "created the world that it might be settled".1 This implies a level of civilized conduct, obsereved by all Peoples and people. Indeed, the perfection of the world that leads to the Messianic Era requires the spreading of the seven commandments that G-d - through the Torah - provided for all the nations of the world.

These are the Seven Noahide Laws, as enumerated in the Babylonian Talmud,2:

Carry out justice - An imperative to pursue and enforce social justice, and a prohibition of any miscarriage of justice.

No blasphemy - Prohibits a curse directed at the Supreme Being.

No idolatry - Prohibits the worship of any human or any created thing. Also prohibited is the making of idols and involvement with the occult. This necessitates an understanding of the One G-d of Israel and His nature.

No illicit intercourse - Prohibits adultery, incest, homosexual intercourse and bestiality, according to Torah definitions.

No homicide - Prohibits murder and suicide. Causing injury is also forbidden.

No theft - Prohibits the wrongful taking of another's goods.

Sexual transgression disrupts G-d's love for us and harms people in their love-capacity
Don't eat a limb of a living creature - Promotes the kind treatment of animal life. It also encourages an appreciation for all kinds of life and respect for nature as G-d's creation.

...in Kabbalah

In  Kabbalah and Chassidut, the Seven Commandments are equivalent to the seven emotional sefirot. The ten sefirot, through which G-d made the world and man, are divided into three "intellectual" attributes: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (chochmah, binah, and daat), and seven "emotional" ones: Kindness, Might, Beauty, Eternity, Glory, Foundation and Sovereignty (chesed, gevurahtiferet, netzach, hod, yesod and malchut).  Each law parallels one of the seven "emotional" sefirot.

Sexual misconduct is the perversion of love, and is related to chesed. Sexual transgression disrupts G-d's love for us and harms people in their love-capacity, while permitted sexual relations are cherished in Heaven, and facilitate divine influence throughout creation.

Murder is the perversion of strength and power, and corresponds to gevurah.

Theft is the destruction of harmony in human relationships, and corresponds to tiferet, the harmonious blend of kindness and might which enables social balance. In a world where questions of business morality are at the top of the agenda, this commandment fosters ethical conduct in an area where it is sorely needed.

When both Jews and non-Jews can learn Torah without distortion of its halachic meaning, true peace becomes possible
Idolatry and Blasphemy correspond respectively to netzach and hod, which are often paired together as the two supports of faith. Idolatry is a violation of divine rulership, and blasphemy of divine love. Since G-d's rulership and His love are inseparable, each in turn facilitating the other, so too these two commandments support and enhance each other. G-d alone is to be worshipped, directly and with-out any conjoining or intermediary, and He alone desires and hears prayer out of His love for all mankind. 

Eating a limb from a living animal corresponds to the  sefirah of yesod, associated with the reproductive drive. The link between eating and sexuality is well-known. The eating of living meat fosters the purely rapacious aspect of both eating and sexual relations. It adds to the desire for purely exploitative sexual relations which resemble eating, since such food contains the actual "heat of life" which arouses selfish passions. Sexual rapaciousness and cruelty of all kinds are rectified by abstaining from living meat as defined by the Torah. This in turn inspires gentle and respectful practices, such as those directed towards maintaining the environment.

A functioning judicial system corresponds to malchut, the lowest sefirah, which rules in supremacy but is selflessly devoted to public service. This is the responsibility of good government. Our sages state, "War comes to the world through the delay of justice, the perversion of justice, and the teaching of Torah not in accordance with Jewish Law".3

(A complete guide to the 7 basic laws can be found in the Encyclopedia Talmudit, under "Ben Noach". A philosophical understanding is available in 'The Seven Laws of Noah', by Aaron Lichtenstein. See also, the U.S. Congressional Declaration: H. J. Res. 104, Public Law 102-14, March 20, 1991; and the talk of the Lubavitcher  Rebbe on Shabbat Beshalach 5743/1983.)

Republished from www.kabbalaonline.org

Footnotes

  • 1. Is. 45:18 .
  • 2. Sanhedrin 56a.
  • 3. Avot 5:8.

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
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.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
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."
Chassidut
The teachings of the Chassidic masters. Chassidut takes mystical concepts such as G-d, the soul, and Torah, and makes them understandable, applicable and practical.
Aaron
Brother of Moses. First High Priest of Israel and progenitor of all Kohanim (priests) until this very day. Died in the year 1272 b.c.e.
Noah
Tenth generation from Adam. Of all humankind, only he and his family survived the Flood which destroyed all civilization in the year 2106 BCE.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.