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Sunday, October 22, 2017 2 Cheshvan 5778





The Noahide Code and the Messianic Era
 
In recent years, the great world leader, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, MHM, the Lubavitch Rebbe, has urged that efforts be made to inform the public at large about the nature and meaning of the Seven Laws of Noah.

These laws, which outline the ethical and moral responsibilities of all mankind, are the true and proper guide for a world striving to achieve the ideal state.

Biblical scholars teach us that this ideal state will be achieved with the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah).

Moshiach (literally “the anointed one”) will be a teacher and leader of the Jewish people. He is both saintly and scholarly, and is descended from the House of King David. He will teach ethics and morality to all mankind. Most importantly, he will establish peace for the entire world.

In the time of Moshiach, there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife. People will strive to help one another, and a spirit of love and brotherhood will flourish.


Most important of all, in the Messianic era, all mankind will acknowledge the unity of G-d, and recognize that He is the sole Ruler of the Universe. As the prophet Isaiah said, “The world will then be filled with the knowledge of G-d, as the waters cover the ocean bed” (Isaiah 11:9).

In the past months, we have witnessed unique and miraculous events taking place in the world, especially in Russia and its satellite regimes, and in the War in the Persian Gulf. We are indeed living in times of miracles, and it is our hope that an increased interest throughout the world in the Laws of Noah will bring us significantly closer to the long awaited time of Redemption, where the world will truly become a dwelling place for G-d.
 
MAKING THE WORLD INTO A BEAUTIFUL GEM
Have you ever thought about how precious gems are made?

The process is as exciting as it is fascinating. In cutting a raw stone to make it a precious jewel, the slightest error can cause damage.

As the great teacher, founder of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov used to say, “Everything a person sees or hears has a lesson to teach in the service of G-d.”

The lesson to be learned from cutting precious stones is clear. G-d created the world in six days like an uncut gem. In its ‘natural’ state, the world has tremendous potential. Our job in life is to cut and shape the gem which G-d has given us, and reveal how precious and beautiful it really is.

Doing so, we become partners in creation.

In the business of preparing precious stones, there are many rules that must be followed carefully. So too, in life.

In the Bible we find a unique set of laws valid for all mankind, teaching us how to behave in order to realize the true potential of our lives, and bring the world to its most perfect state.

Following is a brief explanation of those laws – The Noachide Code.
 
THE SEVEN LAWS OF NOAH
Imagine a world in which there was no sense of right and wrong. A world with no concept of justice, no system of law, no family life, no moral or ethical values. Does it seem frightening? Perhaps a little too real? Such a society did once exist. Self-centered, grasping, cruel. A society set to self-destruct 4000 years ago, in the Great Flood.

Out of its demise a new world was born, with Noah and his sons.

G-d entrusted them with a Code of Life, a set of laws on which a new civilization could be built. This Code of Seven Fundamental Laws is so far-reaching that it gives structure and scope to life for all time, guiding mankind to realize his highest potential as a being created in the image of G-d.
 
1  BELIEF IN G-D
Do Not Worship Idols
 
Man, the weakest of creatures, is surrounded by forces of life and death far greater than himself.

Confronted with the vastness of these universal forces, man might well try to ‘serve them’ in order to protect himself and better his lot. The essence of life, however, is to recognize the Supreme Being who created the Universe – to believe in Him and accept His laws with awe and love.

We must remember that He is aware of all our deeds, rewarding goodness and punishing evil. We are dependent on Him, and to Him alone do we owe allegiance.

To imagine that there could be any other power that could protect us or provide for our needs is not only foolish, but perverts the purpose of life, and, as history has shown, potentially unleashes untold forces of evil in ourselves, and in the world.
 
2  RESPECT G-D AND PRAISE HIM
Do Not Blaspheme His Name
 
When we feel disappointed with life, when things do not work out as they should, how easy it is to point an accusing finger and blame…everyone…everything…even G-D.

Loyalty and trust are crucial in life.

To blame G-d, curse, or to curse others in His name, is an act of disloyalty – akin to treason. It is an act which undermines the basis of all order and stability, on which a just society must stand.
 
3  RESPECT HUMAN LIFE
Do Not Murder
 
The record of man’s inhumanity to man begins with the story of Cain and Abel. Man is indeed his brother’s keeper.

The prohibition against manslaughter (including abortion) comes to protect man from the bestial tendency which lies within him. Man the attacker denies the sanctity of human life, and ultimately attacks G-d, who created us in His image.
 
4  RESPECT THE FAMILY
Do Not Commit Immoral Sexual Acts
 
The Bible states “It is not good for man to be alone,” so G-d made a helpmate for Adam, and in marriage “He blessed them.”

In a wholesome family, man’s creativity finds meaningful expression. Wholesome families are the cornerstone of healthy communities, nations, and societies. Nations which have condoned immorality – adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, incest – have never lasted long. Sexual immorality is the sign of an inner decay which spawns a ruthless society, bringing confusion into G-d’s life plan.
 
5  RESPECT FOR OTHERS’ RIGHTS AND PROPERTY
Do Not Steal
 
Since our sustenance comes from G-d, we should seek to earn it honestly, with dignity, and not through false means. To violate the property of others, by robbing or cheating, is a fundamental attack on their humanity. This breeds anarchy, plunging mankind into the depths of selfishness and cruelty.

It was for this sin, above all, that the Flood was brought upon the world.
 
6  CREATION OF A JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Pursue Justice
 
A robust and healthy legal system, administering justice fairly, creates a society worthy of G-d’s blessings.

Establishing a system of judges, courts, and officials to maintain and enforce the law is a far-reaching responsibility.

This precept translates the ideals of our personal life into a formal order for society at large. It is the extension and guarantee of all the preceding laws.
 
7  RESPECT ALL CREATURES
Do Not Eat the Flesh of an Animal While It Is Still Alive
 
G-d gives man “dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the heaven, over cattle, and over all of the earth.”

We are caretakers of G-d’s creation. Ultimately our responsibility extends beyond our family, even beyond society, to include the world of nature.

Eating meat so fresh that the animal is still alive may be healthy, but it is cruel, even barbaric, displaying a decadent insensitivity to the pain of others.

This law is the touchstone, if you will, that measures how well the other six laws are being observed.

When man fulfills his potential, the whole of creation is nurtured and elevated to realize its goal. This transforms the world into a beautiful gem – a place where G-d can dwell.
 
Educating Mankind
The Seven Noahide Commandments
 
The farbrengen (gathering) held on Shabbos HaGadol, Parshas Metzora, 5746, also celebrated the 84th birthday of the Rebbe. [The Rebbe’s birthday actually occurred on Sunday, the 11th of Nissan, but this farbrengen was viewed as the official celebration.] In his discourses on that day the Rebbe acknowledged the proclamation issued by President Reagan and the U. S. Congress, concerning the duty of mankind to observe the Seven Noachide Laws. The Rebbe also expressed his approbation of the proclamation establishing "Education Day" on the 11th of Nissan (the Rebbe’s birthday) and its connection to Shabbos HaGadol. In this excerpt the Rebbe explains the importance of encouraging gentiles to observe the universal Seven Noachide Laws and the importance of teaching and inculcating the future generations to follow the Seven Noachide Laws. Successful global education depends on love, brotherhood, personal example, sincerity and dedication. The world can become a place where all people will serve G-d together.
 
Everything Begins With Torah
Tradition teaches us that everything in creation finds its source in Torah. The Zohar describes it this way:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, looked into the Torah and created the world, so man looks into the Torah and keeps the world alive. (Zohar II, p. 161b)

Moreover, we find cases when true Torah sages made halachic rulings based on Torah and as a result certain changes took place in worldly matters.

There is a well-known story told of the Ragachover Gaon, who was called the "Prince of Torah" by the fifth Lubavitch Rebbe known as the Rebbe Rashab and the previous Sixth Lubavitch Rebbe.

The Ragachover once received a letter from the government tax department which described two types of taxes which he was being charged. He studied the bill and the explanations and then said that one form of tax was legitimate on the basis of the Torah, and therefore should be paid in accordance with the dictum, "The law of the government is law" (Gittin lob). However, he pointed out, that the second tax was not acceptable by Torah standards and should not be paid (see Rambam, Laws of Robbery, 5:14).

Several days passed and a second notice arrived. This time the tax department apologized for making a mistake in the previous tax bill and admitted that he was not liable to pay the second tax!

Quite an extraordinary occurrence! In "that" country [Russia], which opposed all aspects of Judaism, Torah and its commandments [mitzvos], and in the city of Saint Petersburg, where many important government ministries were situated, and where the protocol of government bureaucracy was carefully adhered to, the Ragachover's halachic ruling, based on the Torah's truth, caused the government to withdraw its demand for taxes - truly amazing!

The incident was all the more astonishing when we remember that in "that" country, once someone was assessed a tax it was virtually impossible to rescind the assessment, yet here they recalled the tax bill and apologized! The power of a Torah ruling can change the way the world functions, against its own nature.

Unlike this story there are many rulings of Torah which already exist and need not be judged anew. One example would be the ruling of Maimonides: … to encourage the Gentiles of the world to act in accordance with the Seven Noahide Commandments. [This concerns] the welfare of all peoples, for the world was "formed to be inhabited," which will only be when society follows the Divine plan.

In this country there is an additional incentive, since the President has issued a proclamation urging and encouraging the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws. He has indicated that only in this way can the world remain inhabited and civilized. … The President's proclamation emphasizes the revelation of G-dliness through the essence of the corporeal world. It also lends support to disseminating the Seven Noahide Laws among all humanity.
 
When We "Receive" We Must Also "Give"
It is therefore appropriate to express our appreciation to the Government of the United States and to its head, the President, for this proclamation regarding the Seven Noahide Laws. At the same time we must express our gratitude to the Holy One Blessed be He that our government represents a benevolent republic, which extends assistance and aid … [An important] act in that respect was to help gain the release of the previous Rebbe from "that" country [in 1927]. This set the stage for the continuous expansion of Chabad Chassidus through the previous Rebbe to the rest of the world, until Moshiach's days.
 
Education Day - U.S.A.
The President has also issued a government proclamation designating a day in the month of Nissan [the 11th, the Rebbe's birthday] as "Education Day." Since the laws of Noah are basic and elementary, e.g., not to rob, not to murder, to believe in G-d, etc., it is obvious that these laws must be taught to children so that they should grow up righteous and good. Consequently, we must improve and adapt the educational system in America to properly transmit these principles and values to the next generation. In fact, in the Seven Noahide Laws we find the commandment for education:

The duty is enjoined upon them to set up judges in each district to deal with these six commandments and to caution (educate) the people.
(Maimonides, Laws of Kings 9:14)
 
Teach The Laws Of Noah To All
Clearly they must teach the people to know and to live by the Laws of Noah. The foundation and basis of the Seven Noahide Laws is love and brotherhood. Even the word Noah indicates: pleasantness and friendliness. And when Gentiles observe the Seven Noahide Laws they are called "pious (righteous) Gentiles," which indicates kindness and love.

In reaching out to encourage the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws we must also show kindness and emphasize the goodness and pleasantness which their observance will bring to the world and society. In general, education must also be approached with love and cooperation; a child must always be brought close with the right hand:

A child...thrust (him) away (only) with the left hand and draw (him) near with the (stronger) right hand.
(Talmud / Tractate Sotah 47a)

This means that even when the child needs chastisement, do it only "with the left hand," meaning with restraint, while at the same time reach out to assist him "with the right hand." For a teacher to be successful he/she must speak to his/her students with words that emerge from the heart, for only then will they penetrate the heart and accomplish their goal. Most importantly, teachers must always remember that the first principle of education is that the teacher must be a living example, many times over.

May it be the will of G-d that we soon see the complete perfection of the world, when all people will serve G-d together.
 
Part 2: Address by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, on the last day of Passover of 5746 (1986)1
 
[To publicize the Seven Noachide Laws] you will clearly need a tremendous effort to overcome your inertia and follow the ruling of Maimonides:

By divine ordinance, Moshe our teacher commanded us that all human beings should accept the commandments enjoined on the descendants of Noah. (Laws of Kings 8:10)

Yet the true quality of "action" emerges specifically in such a scenario when one must mobilize and concentrate his self-control to the point of self-imposed, forced action, to reach out to teach the descendants of Noah the Seven Noahide laws,…to impress upon the Gentile his/her responsibility to observe the Seven Noahide laws. And if he/she is already aware of the Seven Noahide Laws, then the effort should be made to encourage increased observance of those laws.

Because we are in the generation of Moshiach, it behooves us to be more diligent in this area, for we are approaching the time when "kingship will be the L-rd's," for,

"Then I will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the L-rd to serve Him with one consent" (Tzephaniah 3:9).


We therefore must see this as a commandment whose time has come, now!

Regarding the observance of mitzvos (the commandments for Jews) in the diaspora, we have learned that we do them now so as to be prepared for the ultimate observance which will be when Moshiach comes (cf. Maimonides, Leviticus, 18:25). The same idea also applies in the case of the Gentile world. They, too, must prepare themselves for that future time, and the closer we get to the redemption, the more vital it becomes that we influence the nations to observe the Seven Noahide laws.
 
As if to stress the importance of motivating all people to fulfill the Seven Noahide laws, the Holy One, Blessed be He, has put in the heart of the President of this country ("The king's heart is in the hand of the L-rd," cf. Proverbs 21:1) the desire to proclaim and publicize to all the citizens of this country - with the approval of the representatives of the people of the land - the need and importance of keeping the Seven Noahide laws for the good of the existence of this country and its people. The President himself was not satisfied with his earlier proclamations, made in previous years, and once again this year issued a proclamation which calls for the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws among all peoples of the world.
 
We must express our gratitude to the President for this magnanimous action on behalf of the Gentile world. Our hope is great that these efforts will continue among the nations of the world and will be especially successful, in that the President has shown a living example in his personal conduct to spread the Seven Noahide Laws, with no ulterior motive other than it being the word of the Creator.

May this speed up the time when the world will reach its perfection and the true and complete redemption will be realized.
 
Footnotes:
 
1. Published by Sichos in English, Brooklyn, NY
 
Seven Colors of the Rainbow
by Yirmeyahu Bindman.
Resource Publications, 1995. ASIN: 0893903329
 
The Path of the Righteous Gentile:
An Introduction to the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah

by Chaim Clorfene and Yakov Rogalsky.
Philipp Feldheim, 1987. ISBN: 087306433X
 
The Divine Code
by Rabbi Moshe Weiner and Dr Michael Schulman, Ph.D
Ask Noah International, email: SevanLaws@AskNoah.org
 
In Search of the Seven Wonders of Noah
by Daphne M. Cohen and Michele Aronoff.
Treasure Garden Productions, Inc., 1998. ISBN: 0966889207
 
Perspectives on the Noahide Laws: Universal Ethics
by Shimon Dovid Cowen
Institute for Judiasm and Civilization, Inc., 2003, ISBN: 095893345
 
The Seven Principles of Divine Service for Righteous Gentiles
by Yitzchak Ginsburgh.
Gal Einai Institute
 
The Seven Laws of Noah
by Aaron Lichtenstein.
Z. Berman Books, 1981. ASIN: B00005WT7D
 
IN THE MEDIA
 
Noah and 9/11:[Op-Ed]Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times News. (Late Edition(East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Sep 11, 2002. pg.A.33
Copyright New York Times Company Sep 11, 2002
 
Over the past year several friends have remarked to me how much they still feel a pit in their stomachs from 9/11. One even said she felt as if this was the beginning of the end of the world. And no wonder. Those suicide hijackings were such an evil act that they shattered your faith in human beings and in the wall of civilization that was supposed to constrain the worst in human behavior. There is now a big jagged hole in that wall. What to do? For guidance, I turned to one of my mentors, Rabbi Tzvi Marx, who teaches in the Netherlands. He offered me a biblical analogy. ''To some extent,'' said Tzvi, ''we feel after 9/11 like we have experienced the flood of Noah -- as if a flood has inundated our civilization and we are the survivors. What do we do the morning after? ''The story of Noah has a lot to offer. ''What was the first thing Noah did when the flood waters receded and he got off the ark?'' asked Tzvi. ''He planted a vine, made wine and got drunk.'' Noah's first response to the flood's devastation of humanity, and the challenge he now faced, was to numb himself to the world.''But what was God's reaction to the flood?'' asked Tzvi. ''Just the opposite. God's reaction was to offer Noah a more detailed set of rules for mankind to live by -- rules which we now call the Noahite laws. His first rule was that life is precious, so man should not murder man.'' (These Noahite laws were later expanded to include prohibitions against idolatry, adultery, blasphemy and theft.)It's interesting -- you would have thought that after wiping out humanity with a devastating flood, God's first post-flood act wouldn't have been to teach that all life is precious. But it was. Said Tzvi: ''It is as though God said, 'Now I understand what I'm up against with these humans. I need to set for them some very clear boundaries of behavior, with some very clear values and norms, that they can internalize.' ''And that is where the analogy with today begins. After the deluge of 9/11 we have two choices: We can numb ourselves to the world, and plug our ears, or we can try to repair that jagged hole in the wall of civilization by insisting, more firmly and loudly than ever, on rules and norms -- both for ourselves and for others. ''God, after the flood, refused to let Noah and his offspring indulge themselves in escapism,'' said Tzvi, ''but he also refused to give them license to live without moral boundaries, just because humankind up to that point had failed. ''The same applies to us. Yes, we must kill the murderers of 9/11, but without becoming murderers and without simply indulging ourselves. We must defend ourselves -- without throwing out civil liberties at home, without barring every Muslim student from this country, without forgetting what a huge shadow a powerful America casts over the world and how it can leave people feeling powerless, and without telling the world we're going to do whatever we want because there has been a flood and now all bets are off. Because imposing norms and rules on ourselves gives us the credibility to demand them from others. It gives us the credibility to demand the rule of law, religious tolerance, consensual government, self-criticism, pluralism, women's rights and respect for the notion that my grievance, however deep, does not entitle me to do anything to anyone anywhere. It gives us the credibility to say to the Muslim world: Where have you been since 9/11? Where are your voices of reason? You humbly open all your prayers in the name of a God of mercy and compassion. But when members of your faith, acting in the name of Islam, murdered Americans or committed suicide against ''infidels,'' your press extolled them as martyrs and your spiritual leaders were largely silent. Other than a few ritual condemnations, they offered no outcry in their mosques; they drew no new moral red lines in their schools. That's a problem, because if there isn't a struggle within Islam -- over norms and values -- there is going to be a struggle between Islam and us .In short, numbing ourselves to the post-9/11 realities will not work. Military operations, while necessary, are not sufficient. Building higher walls may feel comforting, but in today's interconnected world they're an illusion. Our only hope is that people will be restrained by internal walls -- norms and values. Visibly imposing them on ourselves, and loudly demanding them from others, is the only viable survival strategy for our shrinking planet. Otherwise, start building an ark.

 

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