This is the first installment of a series of essays - really, an ongoing conversation, a virtual symposium, involving a variety of thinkers. They all deal with keeping the Noahide Law.
To go to the other submissions in this series:
Click here: Second Paper, by Jeremy Lawson (10/27/06)
Third Paper, by Adam Penrod (11/28/06)
Fourth Paper, by Michael Dallen (11/30/06)
Fifth Paper, by Rev. Jack E. Saunders (12/1/06)
Sixth Paper, Man of Law and Man of Spirit (2d installment of the last submission)
Seventh Paper, by Jeremy Lawson
Eighth Paper, by Rev. Jack E. Saunders
Ninth Paper, by Alan W.
Tenth Paper, Legalism and Spirituality, by Adam Penrod (12/21/06)
The following essay is by Alan W. Cecil, author of the The Noahide Code, a Guide to the Perplexed Christian (2006, Academy of Shem Press, 20533 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 904, Aventura, Florida 33180. www.academyofshem.com)
The opinions below, and in all these symposium papers, don't necessarily represent the views of the First Covenant Foundation, its members or trustees. They represent the opinions of their respective authors. We reprint these papers as a public service.
Lubavitch, Kabbalah, and the Noahides
© 2006 by Alan W. Cecil
The rebbe was a charismatic man, no doubt about it. Of course, when you are leading a
movement whose teachings are often unaccepted in mainstream orthodox Judaism, you need all the charisma you can get. One of the reasons for the rebbe’s popularity was that his teaching approach drew heavily from the kabbalistic teachings of Jewish mysticism, and he often used stories where “the heart fools the mind” to illustrate his teaching. The rebbe was also responsible for starting a very successful outreach program to non-observant Jews, for he taught a type of Judaism that was vital and alive, a Judaism for the soul rather than the dry legalistic Judaism that was taught by the mainstream rabbis, and he and his followers encouraged many Jews to follow his views of halacha.
He also spoke about the Noahides, and how it was important to teach them the Torah. He started
a successful outreach program to Noahides as well.
One of the things that the rebbe emphasized was that he and his followers were living in the
generation of HaMashiach, and that every Jew should prepare for HaMeshiach’s coming by
excelling in good deeds. As time passed, he stressed more and more the imminent coming of
HaMeshiach, and his followers came to understand that he, their rebbe, was the Messiah. When the
rebbe died without a clear successor, it only intensified the talk about him being the Messiah, and
it was believed that he would soon resurrect and usher in the Messianic Age.
The name of this rebbe was Yeshua ben Yosef,1 a Jew who lived in Israel about 2000 years
ago. After Yeshua’s death, his Jewish followers dwindled and eventually died out when it became
obvious that he was not the promised Messiah. On the other hand, the Noahides who had been drawn
into this new sect flourished, and they mistranslated and twisted the mystic teachings of Yeshua,
creating a new religion that was based on the mystery teachings of Hellenistic Gnosticsm rather than
rabbinic Judaism. The animosity that Yeshua had against mainstream Judaism was intensified by his
Noahide followers, and this animosity greatly influenced the new religion. This new Gentile religion
soon started teaching that their view of the Torah was the only correct view, and all the traditional
Jewish rabbis were wrong, and that they alone had the “truth.” Only their teachers, who claimed they
were disciples of Yeshua, could interpret the Torah correctly. Only their teachers, disciples of
Yeshua, could properly teach the Noahides. The Noahides were instructed to listen to them and them
Judaism produced other failed messianic Jewish leaders such as Bar Kochba, who actually
did throw out the Romans for a brief time before the Romans returned in force and he and his
movement were crushed. Over the centuries, other self-proclaimed “messiahs” used the teachings
of kabbalah to obtain a following such as Solomon Molkho, Shabbetai Zevi, and Jacob Frank, and
the misuse of mystical and kabbalistic teachings of these self-proclaimed “messiahs” led to disaster.
Meanwhile, the Gentile religion that was supposedly founded on the teachings of Yeshua had
morphed into the world’s greatest pagan religion, and its enmity and hatred towards traditional
Judaism grew stronger throughout the centuries, and the suffering it caused the Jewish people
became the stuff of legend.
Many of Judaism’s greatest teachers viewed the kabbalah as an important part of the Torah:
“Rambam and leading Kabbalists all point out that the Talmud doesn’t just relate to, but solves all
the problems of philosophy and hints at all the hidden teachings of Kabbalah to those who are
capable of this understanding.”2 However, it is also true that the kabbalah is not only potentially
spiritually dangerous, but undisciplined teaching of kabbalah has often led to catastrophe, as noted
above. There are only a small percentage of tzeddekim in each generation who are “capable of this
understanding” and allowed to study true kabbalah.
For a Jew to study kabbalah from a recognized
teacher of kabbalah, the Jew must be extremely pious, keeping the mitzvot and having an excellent
grasp of the entire Talmud. Since a Noahide is forbidden to study many parts of the Talmud (the
parts that are about Israel’s service to G-d and which do not have anything to do with the Seven
Laws), and since there are mitzvot that are forbidden to the Noahide, it seems odd that one would
think a Noahide could and should study that which many say is even dangerous for the Jews to study,
no matter how pious and scrupulously observant they are. Most Noahides have come out of
Christianity, a religion that is 99.9% mysticism, and the last thing Noahides who have just come out
of Christianity need is to immerse themselves into the mysteries of kabbalah. Yes, there is something
about the kabbalah that makes former Christians feel at home; to the uneducated, there are many
teachings in the kabbalah that sound similar to the mystical Gnostic teachings of Christianity,3 and
to these Noahides, it is merely a matter of trading one mystery religion for another. The Noahide
does not have the safeguards that the Jew does (the daily reciting of the Shema or the Shmona Esrai
for example, or wearing tzitzit or tefillin which keeps the Jew focused on G-d and the Torah). If the
lessons of Yeshua ha Yosef and Shabbetai Zevi show that unrestricted teaching of kabbalah is a
danger to the Jew, how more so it is for the Noahide. Christianity has two thousand years of pagan
organized religion ingrained into his culture, and it seems prudent to put a fence around the Torah
by not using kabbalah as a basis for teaching Noahides.
The Noahide is not commanded to observe specific holidays such as Pesach or Shabbat
(which are meant for Israel), formal prayers such as the Shemoneh Esrai or the Shema (which are
meant for Israel), or to study kabbalah.4 This is not to say that the Noahide shouldn’t pray, or observe
holidays such as Rosh HaShanna, or to learn some basic insights of the kabbalah that will help them
understand the Torah, but that the mandatory requirements of the Seven Laws should come first.
Many of the questions that novice Noahides pester the rabbis with have to do with things such as:
how a Noahide should keep Pesach and other Jewish holidays, whether a Noahide can wear a kippah
or affix a mezuzah on their doorposts, which prayers from the Siddur a Noahide should recite, or
should a Noahide study the Zohar or Tanya or other books on Jewish mysticism. Although these are
legitimate questions, the problem is the focus. Many Noahides look at the Seven Laws as a sort of
Judaism Lite — tastes great, less tefillin. The Noahides must understand, in no uncertain terms, that
the Noahide Law is not a religion, but a moral and legal code. What Noahides are commanded to do
is to integrate the Seven Laws into the legal structure of their respective societies. This is an area that
lies outside of rabbinical jurisdiction. Many Noahides do not understand the limits of rabbinic
authority — to interfere with the government and legal systems of sovereign Gentile nations lies
outside the boundaries of rabbinical jurisprudence. The rabbis can advise Noahides on the halachic
nature of specific laws, and of course to teach Torah, but the rabbis are not to actively take part in
changing the governments of non-Jewish nations, for that is a job the Noahides themselves must do.
There are many teachings from the kabbalah that are illuminating, and can be used to
understand many concepts of the Torah as well as keeping the Noahide Code from simply being a
dry and intellectual form of moral and legal law. However, there has to be a balance; unlike the law
of dinin, there is no law that commands Noahides to study kabbalah, and unfortunately the law of
dinin is the most neglected of the Seven Laws, too often at the expense of learning kabbalah. Also,
as mentioned above, without a firm grounding in the legal aspects of the Torah, the unrestricted
teaching of kabbalistic mysticism has often led to disaster. The law of dinin commands Noahides
to have laws in each and every society; laws that follow the examples set in the Torah for Israel.
What the Noahide needs to understand is that, rather than busy themselves with kabbalah, they
should be studying the parts of the Torah concerning things such as theft, fraud, wages, bodily
injuries, damages, loans, sales, and commercial dealings.6 Teaching the “dry and legalistic” precepts
of social justice may not sound terribly exciting to a Noahide, but it is what they are commanded
to do in order to form a peaceful society. There is nothing wrong with teaching a few kabbalistic
concepts to gain insight into the Torah, but the Noahides need to safeguard themselves from creating
their own mystical religion, as did the followers of Yeshua ben Yosef, and the best way to do that is
to focus on what the law of dinin as the Torah commands us to do.
This brings us to the next question: How does a Noahide go about finding a rabbi to teach
the Noahide the Torah? There are many classifications of Orthodox groups; Sephardic, Ashkenazi,
Chabad, traditional mainstream, Neo-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Centrist Orthodox, Haredi, etc.
Each one of these groups is further divided into smaller subdivisions with their own definition of
halacha. Which one is right? What rabbi has the correct halacha? How is the Noahide supposed to
know? As the different orthodox rabbis take on the task of teaching Noahides, the divisions today
among Noahides parallel the divisions in Orthodox Judaism, and there is a lot of my rabbi can beat
up your rabbi bickering going on. The rabbis, although being the Noahides’ teachers and mentors,
only have as much authority over Noahides as Noahides allow them to have. What is confusing to
Noahides is that the rabbis themselves do not agree on matters of halacha. The different groups of
orthodox Jews have different views on halacha, and the way things are going, it looks as if they will
not be able to agree on halacha until HaMachiach comes and settles the matter of halacha once and
for all. Many of the disputes over halacha, for the most part, do not concern Noahides. Few
Noahides have the knowledge or learning (or, according to the Lubavitch, the nefesh) to understand
or challenge the finer points of rabbinic law, and this deficiency in Torah is what Noahides need to
be dealing with instead of spending their time studying kabbalah.
Many Noahides have been drawn
into rabbinic arguments that really have no place in Noahide dialogue; for instance, many of the
disagreements between the Lubavitch and the mitnagdim have to do with things that do not concern
Noahides, such as methods of kosher slaughtering, or the order and content of Jewish prayers.
The problem with the novice Noahide trying to navigate the sea of halacha without rabbinical
navigation or a solid background in Torah is like trying to represent yourself in court without a
lawyer—unless you have studied law, you need legal advice. But even if you disagree in the lawyer’s
opinion of how to handle your case, the final choice is still yours. So it is with the rabbis; you will
often find that different rabbis will have different halachic opinions on matters concerning a
Noahide. The Noahide is free to choose which opinion to go by (unless it is a clear majority opinion,
such as saying homosexuality is wrong), and although the rabbis have the responsibility of teaching
the correct halacha, it is the responsibility of the Noahide to have enough grasp of the Torah to
determine the finer points of halacha (as it concerns the Noahide) for themselves. It goes without
saying that a Noahide should understand the basic principles of the Noahide Code, and be able to
discern whether a Noahide should study the Tanya instead of the Torah, or saying that rabbi so-andso’s
teachings should be obeyed because he is the Messiah.
The rabbis need to do more to steer the
Noahide away from halachic issues that do not pertain to the Noahide’s service of G-d, such as
questions about keeping Shabbat and wearing tefillin, and encourage Noahides to study those parts
of the Torah that will enable the Noahide to integrate the Seven Laws into their own Constitutional
framework. Better yet, the Noahides need to develop their own teachers who are proficient in Torah.
The concern I have with the Lubavitchers is their position on Rabbi Schneerson being Melech
HaMashiach.7 This is having a detrimental effect on the Noahide movement both in dividing the
Noahide community as well as how non-observant Noahides are perceiving the B’nai Noah. There
is even a subset of the Lubavitch that, based on the teachings of the kabbalah, considers Schneerson
to be “G-d’s self clothed in a body;” i.e., they teach that Schneerson was G-d incarnate, similar to
what the Gnostics teach about Yeshua.8 This teaching has aroused suspicion and animosity among
Christians (who are to date the greatest source of new Noahides), and Christians are asking
themselves: Why should a Christian trade one messiah for another?—this seems to be the main
argument among the Christian anti-Noahide web-pages that have sprung up on the internet.
Practically all of the anti-Noahide literature online is written by those under the mistaken assumption
that the Noahide movement is a Lubavitch movement, and these Christians are painting the B’nai
Noah as a movement that is trying to get people to believe that Rabbi Schneerson is the messiah.
It is true that the Lubavitch have done much to help the Noahide movement; it was the
Lubavitch who lobbied for the United States government to pass Public Law 102-14 in 1991. Rabbi
Schneerson spoke of teaching the Noahide Laws long before it became fashionable among the Jews
to do so, and the Lubavitch have spent a great deal of time and energy the past few years teaching
Noahides. Noahides, as well as many Jews, are attracted by the Lubavitch’s enthusiasm and love of
the Torah. But the Lubavitch lobbying of Public Law 102-14 was originally designed as a tribute to
Rabbi Schneerson, and less so as a law to help the Noahides. Also, when the emerging Noahide
movement started to reach out for rabbinic support in the late 1980s, it was not the Lubavitch rabbis
who first responded, but rabbis such as Rabbi Michael Katz who gave their time and energy to
teaching Noahides. There are also questions about the Lubavitch’s reasons for being involved with
the Noahide movement; given the Lubavitch’s views on the quality of non-Jewish souls, their
reluctance to accept genuine converts to Judaism, not to mention using Noahides as a strong political
base as leverage to help the Lubavitch gain more power in the Orthodox movement as well as trying
to usher in the Messianic age (with you-know-who as the Messiah) by increasing the number of
observant Noahides, one wonders about their priorities. Are the Lubavitch doing what is best for the
Noahides and Orthodox Judaism in general, or what is best for the Lubavitch?
The damage being done to the Noahide movement by the Lubavitch’s messianic claims is
incalculable. Because of the Lubavitch’s involvement in the passage of Public Law 102-14, as well
as its mention of Rabbi Schneerson, the perception among many non-Jews is that the Noahide
movement is a Lubavitch-led movement, and that the Lubavitch arguments supporting Rabbi
Schneerson being the messiah seem to be no different than Christian arguments supporting Jesus.
The Noahide movement has enough to do without having to constantly defend itself against
accusations of messianism. As long as the Lubavitch continue to proclaim Rabbi Schneerson as King
Messiah, the Lubavitch are becoming increasingly harder to tell apart from the other messianic
Jewish movements such as Jews for Jesus.9 This might seem unfair, but the Lubavitch are teetering
on the brink of becoming another Shabbetai Zevi movement, or worse, becoming a Jews for
Schneesus movement, joining other messianic Christian groups that try to present themselves as
“orthodox” Jews, donning tefillin and tzitzit to trick unwary Jews into joining the ranks of the minim.
If Chabad is teaching that Schneerson is HaMashiach (or, G-d forbid, the incarnation of the Divine,)
the Lubavitch movement is at a stage that is chillingly close to the early Christian church in the final
decades of the Second Temple era, proclaiming their rebbe as Messiah and then drawing Noahides
into their teachings.
The Noahide needs to understand that the majority of mainstream orthodox Jews view the
Lubavitch the same way mainstream Christians view the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormon sects
of Christianity—that the Lubavitch are a small (but well-funded and growing) sect that has beliefs
and customs that lie outside the pale of mainstream Judaism, along with an aggressive missionizing
outreach program for both Jews and Noahides. For these reasons alone, particularly because of the
negative connotations with the Lubavitch’s teachings on Rabbi Schneerson Melech HaMachiach,
I believe the Noahides should be aware of the problems associating the Noahide movement with the
Lubavitch. There are many Jews as well as Noahides that have a great deal of respect for Rabbi
Schneerson, and consider him one of the twentieth century’s giants of Torah. However, to tell
Noahides that one should follow his teachings because he was the Messiah is no better than the Jews
for Jesus telling you to believe in their teachings because Jesus was the Messiah. A Noahide can
learn Torah from a Lubavitch rabbi if they wish, but he or she needs to be aware of the messianic
stigma that the Lubavitch have attached themselves to.
One needs to remember that, despite all of
the kabbalistic “proofs” the Lubavitch may throw at you in their attempt to “prove” that Rabbi
Schneerson10 was HaMashiach, the Noahide shouldn’t get too excited about HaMashiach coming
until they start building the third Beis HaMikdash and when all of the Jews start returning to Israel.
Many Noahides are attracted to the Lubavitch because of their joy and love of Torah, their energy,
and their willingness to go out of their way to help others, be they Jew or Noahide. But the Lubavitch
also believe that Rebbe Schneerson is going to resurrect and become HaMashiach, a teaching that
is uncomfortably close to the teachings of the followers of Yeshua ben Yosef, and the similarity to
their teachings and those of the first century Christian church should make any Noahide
The Schneerson Solution
Since many of the Lubavitch are so insistent that the Noahides only learn from Lubavitch
rabbis, perhaps it would behoove them to listen to what their own Rebbe had to say:
“B’nai Noah must themselves study and “acquire Torah” (regarding all the laws and
values of Torah that pertain to all mankind), that the B’nai Noah must become fully
conversant in Torah for themselves, rather than relying on Jewish teachers constantly,
the B’nai Noah should understand that Jewish teachers may know less about the laws
and principles that apply to B’nai Noah than Noahides themselves, and that the two
systems, the Noahide and Torah systems, often differ in their particulars.
Noah] are required to learn Torah to know how to conduct themselves, because they
are meant to become fully conversant in their own right and not to rely on answers
from the Jews in every instance, and there is indeed no guarantee that Jews will
always know the right answers for them, since there are often differences between
Jewish and Noahide decisions on any given topic.”11
Point number 1: “B’nai Noah must themselves study and ‘acquire Torah’ (regarding all
the laws and values of Torah that pertain to all mankind.)” Noahides need to concentrate on the
social aspects of the Torah, and should study the parts of the Law that deal with what Ramban
outlined in his commentary to Bereishis 34:1312 (as explained above; Noahides should be studying
the parts of the Torah concerning things such as theft, fraud, wages, bodily injuries, damages, loans,
sales, and commercial dealings.)
As I have pointed out before, there are seven things that a Noahide
1. Do not observe the Sabbath in the manner of the Jews
2. Do not observe any of the Jewish holy days in the manner of the Jews.
3. Do not write a Torah scroll.
4. Do not receive an aliyah to the Torah at a public gathering.
5. Do not make, write, or wear tefillin.
6. Do not make, write, or affix a mezuzah to the doorposts of a Noahide dwelling.
7. Do not study the parts of the Torah that do not apply to the Jewish people’s service to G-d.
The last one would include things such as the laws on the kohanim and similar laws that do not
apply to the Noahide’s service of G-d.
Point number 2: “B’nai Noah must become fully conversant in Torah for themselves,
rather than relying on Jewish teachers constantly.” Basically, the Noahides need to take control
of the B’nai Noah movement. We need Noahides who can teach the Torah, Noahide yeshivas, as
well as an organized push for all Noahides to focus on learning Hebrew, not only to be able to read
the Torah in its original language, but to finally eliminate the language barriers between the B’nai
Point number 3: “B’nai Noah should understand that Jewish teachers may know less
about the laws and principles that apply to B’nai Noah than Noahides themselves.” There are
many rabbis who have not studied the Noahide Law. Non-observant Jews (such as the Reform and
Conservative) still outnumber the Torah-observant Jews by a good margin, and the rabbis have their
hands full trying to bring the non-observant Jews closer to Torah. It is not unusual for a Noahide to
have a better grasp of the Noahide Law than a rabbi. However, one of the things Noahides need to
guard themselves against is arrogance. Just because a Noahide has more knowledge in the Noahide
Law does not mean they know more about the Torah than a rabbi, or even an observant Jew whose
knowledge of the Seven Laws is minimal at best. There is a lot more to the Torah than simply the
Noahide Laws, and there is much in the Torah that is unnecessary (and even forbidden) for a
Noahide to study.14 Another thing the Noahide needs to guard against is complacency. Just because
you have learned what the Seven Laws are does not mean you should then spend your time learning
areas that are not necessary for Noahide observance, such as the laws dealing with the Jewish
Sabbath. Many rabbis do not know the particulars about the Noahide Law, and will teach you what
they do know, whether it is necessary for a Noahide or not. There is a question about a Noahide
studying Torah simply for the sake of studying Torah not being a mitzvah for the Noahide; only
those parts of the Torah deemed necessary for Noahide observance should be studied so that the
Noahide can perform the mitzvah. Not study, but practice is the main thing (Pirke Avot, 1:17.)
Point number 4: “The two systems, the Noahide and Torah systems, often differ in their
particulars.” The Torah teaches this principle in the commentary to Bereishis 37:2; “Joseph would
bring evil reports about them [Joseph’s brothers] to their father [Jacob]. One “evil report” had to do
with Joseph’s brothers slaughtering an animal and cooking and eating part of it while the animal
was still having spasmodic movements (which is allowed for Jews if the animal is killed according
to the rules of kosher slaughter [Chullin 33a]). Noahides are not allowed to eat part of an animal
while it is still moving, and Joseph thought his brothers were violating a Noahide precept, since he
and his brothers were still technically Noahides. Every one of the Seven Laws of Noah has
particulars that are different from the Jewish Laws of the Torah, and the Noahides need to be aware
of the differences as the Noahide movement integrates the Noahide Code into their respective
Finally, it should be said once again that the B’nai Noah isn’t about correct theology but
correct action. We seem to lose sight of this point with all the quibbling about halachic minutiae.
The details of the Seven Laws need to be worked out by the Noahides themselves, and to keep in
mind that the rabbis themselves do not always agree on the halacha of the Noahide Laws. We need
to get on with the task at hand, which is integrating the Seven Laws of Noah into our culture and
legal system. There’s plenty of opportunity to argue in the political arena, and the details can be
worked out as we go along. The time has come to quit worrying about correct theology and start
worrying about correct action. The best way the Noahides can help the nation of Israel is to get the
ball rolling working on our own society, culture, and nation to bring it under Torah Law instead of
expending their energies in endless arguments about which rabbi has the correct halacha or creating
rabbinic fan clubs. Having the nations of the world build Torah-observant legal systems and societies
will help the Jewish people more than anything else they can do. If you truly wish to help and
support orthodox Judaism, you must endeavor to work towards the goal of bringing the laws of your
own society in harmony with the laws of the Torah.
Notes on Sources
1.cf. Christian Talmud John 1:38, 49; 3:2, 36, 6:25.
2. Eliyahu Krupnick, The Gateway to Learning. (Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 1981), p. 19.
3.Some scholars, such as Moritz Friedlander, believed that Gnosticism was a pre-Christian
movement that originated from Jewish mysticism, particularly in the large Hellenized Jewish
community in Alexandria.
4.In the Pirke Avot 5:18, it says: “There are four types among students who sit before the sages:
A sponge, a funnel, a strainer, and a sieve: a sponge, which absorbs everything; a funnel, which
lets in from one end and lets out from the other; a strainer, which lets the wine flow through and
retains the sediment; and a sieve, which allows the flour dust to pass though and retains the fine
flour.” These four types of students — the sponge, or the student who retains everything whether
it is important or not and is unable to distinguish between the two; the funnel, or the student that
forgets everything; the strainer; the student who only remembers that which is unnecessary; and
the sieve, the student who can distinguish between what is important and unimportant and retains
that which is necessary. One of the best explanations of the “sieve” is from Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle’s novel A Study In Scarlet, where the famous detective Sherlock Holmes elaborates on this
concept: “You see,” [Holmes] explained, “I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little
empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the
lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him
gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in
laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into
his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of
these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that
little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time
when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the
highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” There is so
much that the Noahide needs to learn, such as the Torah’s teachings on business matters as
Ramban commented on: overcharging, withholding wages, laws of bailees, the various categories
of damages, personal injuries, the laws of creditors and debtors, the laws of buying and selling,
etc. Filling the Noahide’s head full of kabbalistic teachings instead of what the Noahide needs to
know in order to be a frum Noahide is not only confusing to the Noahide, but it is tantamount to
turning the Noahide into a “strainer” or a “sponge.” The teachings of the Midrash or the kabbalah
can be helpful in understanding certain Torah concepts, but they should not be taught at the
expense of teaching the Noahide’s primary duty of changing the laws of Noahide society to
conform with the Noahide Code as commanded by the law of dinin.
Because of the prohibition of certain laws (for the Noahide) that are binding only upon the
Jewish people as part of their service to G-d, there are limits to what a Noahide is permitted to learn.
Since the Noahide is not able to learn (and perform) the entire Torah, it should be understood that
a Noahide is unable to have a complete and thorough grasp of the entire Oral Law, which is
prerequisite to learning kabbalah. The Noahide’s service to G-d is fundamentally different than
Israel’s service to G-d. In the words of Rabbi S. R. Hirsch: “Here, at the foot of Moriah, comes the
parting of the ways between ovrct grz, the seed of Abraham, and jb hbc, the sons of
Noah...they [ovrct grzv] can walk together with the jb hbc as far as Moriah, for the jb hbc
are also children of G-d. But the jb hbc come only as far as the foot of the mountain. Further than
that they cannot go.”
5.Other than being legally able to vote in their host countries (a historically recent development, I
might add) the rationale behind this is that, in Gentile societies, any attempt by the rabbis to
change the laws of the non-Jewish host countries, such as trying to abolish a state religion (in
favor of the Noahide Law) such as Christianity or Islam in a predominately Christian or Islamic
society, would cause severe backlash to the minority Jewish population. This sort of paranoia is
found in writings such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Throughout history, Jewish
communities have been destroyed over absurd lies (such as the Jews spreading the Black Plague,
ritual murder of Christian children, and of course, being “Christ-killers.”) Giving them an actual
reason to hate Jews would be catastrophic. Also, both Ravad and Ramban were of the opinion
that Israel cannot enforce the Noahide Law upon neighboring nations that Israel conquers
militarily, let alone Gentile nations over which it has no control (cf. Ravad on Malachim 6:1 and
Issura Beah 12:7-8; Ramban’s commentary on Devirim 20:1, 11; Tosafot Avoda Zara 26b.)
6.cf. Ramban’s commentary to Bereishis 34:13.
9.The Jews for Jesus look at the messianic claims of the Lubavitch for Rabbi Schneerson as the
“right idea, wrong man.”Also, many Christian groups are looking at the Lubavitch’s teaching of a
resurrected messiah as an invitation to step up their missionary activity directed at orthodox
10.Rabbi Akiva, who lived during one of the darkest periods of Jewish history, was one of the
great mystics of the Tannaim. The Talmud (Chagiga 14b) tells how Rabbi Akiva could enter
Pardes and return unharmed; yet even he was mistaken about HaMeshicah, proclaiming that Bar
Kochba was the Messiah. If a Torah giant such as Rabbi Akiva could make such a mistake, why
would anyone think the Lubavitch today could do any better?
12. The tractates of the Talmud that are important to the Noahide law of dinin include !/8
!"v (Bava Kamma), !3*7/ !"v (Bava Mezi’a), !9;v !"v (Bava Bathra), and 0*9$%12
(Sanhedrin), all of which have to do with what Ramban suggested the Noahides should study in
order to set up a legal framework conducive to Torah guidelines and ethics.
13.There is a wonderful crash course for Hebrew; call 1-800-44-HEBRE(W) or go to
http://www.njop.org/html/hebrew.html for details.
14. Many Noahides are still having problems shaking off the Christian concept that a high degree
of spirituality is the most important thing to attain. They often cite the Talmudic passage: “R.
Meir used to say, ‘Whence do we know that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High
Priest? From the verse, [You shall therefore keep My statues, and My judgements:] which, if a
man do, he shall live in them. Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence
you may learn that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest!—That refers to their
own seven laws.’” (Sanhedrin 59a) Many take this to be a compliment, but if it is a compliment,
it is no more than a compliment second-class, for the Sages did not think very highly of the
Sadducee High Priests during the era of the Tannaim. This is not to disparage the worth of the
Righteous Gentile as compared to a Jew; think of comparing Raoul Wallenburg, the Swedish
diplomat who risked his life to save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, and Moishe Rosen,
the Jewish founder of “Jews for Jesus,” the organization dedicated to the destruction of Jewish
souls. I am not disparaging “spirituality,” the desire to be close to the Creator, but the best way to
accomplish that is through correct action and the pursuit of social justice, and not simply being
For the first paper that came out in response to this essay, click here.