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What are the Mitzvahs for non-Jews?

by Rabbi Yosef Kantor

  

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


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The Short Answer:

Judaism teaches about a Divine Mandate known as the Seven Noahide Laws, which are G-d's universal laws for all mankind as taught to Moses and recorded in the Torah.1  

The Askmoses Answer:

Every creation, and certainly every person, was created by G-d for a specific purpose. Aside for every person’s unique, personal mission, there are general rules by which every person must abide in order to fulfill the general purpose of his individudal creation; namely, to establish fertile grounds (where G-dliness can be revealed) and create a stable environment (where G-d can dwell).

For this purpose G-d gave humanity seven universal laws; basic laws which ensure that the world remains a civilized society, and a society that does not deny its Creator. It is therefore important that all these laws be observed as Divine mandates, not just as "ethical ideas".

Every creation, and certainly every person, was created by G-d for a specific purpose.
Six of these laws were commanded to Adam and Eve, and the seventh one, the prohibition against eating a limb which was severed from a live animal, was given to Noah2 (as this law was unnecessary from Creation until after the Flood when all humankind was vegetarian).3

These seven laws are called the “Seven Noahide Laws,” for they are mandatory for all descendants of Noah, the progenitor of modern humanity.

Judaism does not encourage non-Jews to convert to Judaism, for we believe that a non-Jew who follows his laws can lead a fulfilling spiritual life. In fact, a non-Jew who studies and observes the Noahide Commandments is equal to the High Priest who enters the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.4

These are the Seven Laws:

1. Not to worship idols.
2. Not to blaspheme.
3. Not to murder.
4. Not to steal.
5. Not to be involved in illicit sexual behavior (adultery, incest, homosexuality, etc.).
6. Not to eat the limb of a living creature [not to be cruel to animals].
7. To establish courts of justice to enforce these laws.

See also Other than the Seven Noahide Laws can a non-Jew observe Mitzvahs? and www.asknoah.org. Askmoses also recommends the following books: The Path of the Righteous Gentile by Rabbi Yakov Rugalsky, and The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner

Footnotes

  • 1. The Torah doesn't list them as seven. The Talmud points out seven commandments in the Torah and compiles the list of seven. See Talmud tractate Sanhedrin 56a-56b, and Maimonides laws of Kings 9:1-2
  • 2. Maimonides Laws of Kings 9:1
  • 3. See Genesis 1:29, 9:3
  • 4. Talmud Bava Kamma 38a.

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COMMENTS

7 verses 613

Posted by: Anonymous, CA on Apr 10, 2006

I'm a non-Jew not fully acquainted with all aspects of Judaism, and I'm sorry if my question seems stupid.

To me, it seems to be a lot easier to observe seven laws than 613, and if you really can reach the same spiritual level following them as you say, why opt for 613?

Basically, what are the advantadges of a non-Jew converting? Divine reward?

Editor's Comment

The Jew and the non-Jew who observe their respective commandments have both equally fulfilled their mission in life, and are both equally deserving of their reward. However, it is certain that the observance of the additional Mitzvot makes the mission more difficult, and as the adage goes "the greater the difficulty the greater the reward".
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.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
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.
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 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.