-By Elisheva Maline
It's no secret nowadays that Jews aren't looking for converts. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising if someone added, “And we just want to be left alone.” However, this statement is untrue. Jews have a calling: they are meant to be “A light unto the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). This means that we are Hashem’s PR (Public Relations): we were given an instruction manual, the Torah, through which we could learn how to achieve closeness to G-d and thus spread the good word.
The Seven Laws of Noah were introduced to Adam and Chava during the six days of Creation, centuries before the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai. During the time of Noah, “The earth had become corrupt before G-d and the earth had become filled with robbery” (Genesis 6:11). Once the deluge cleared the earth of this and in order to prevent this from happening again, G-d established these laws and made clear to humanity: this is how we trek down the moral path of existence, straight as an arrow.
Whether one is going for the best wife/husband award, looking to be an honest businessman or loyal friend/citizen of the state, he can use these laws as a blueprint for the build up of a personal infrastructure. We are the cornerstones of existence! When each of us takes responsibility for his immediate surroundings, he continuously recreates a beautiful world.
The Seven Laws of Noah:
1. Do not blaspheme G-d – Although gossiping, obscenities and idle chatter can be viewed as "only human", speaking kindly, softy and in a controlled manner is viewed as divine. Speech is what separates people from animals. Lihavdil (to enunciate the point), Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of all wit.”
2. Do not murder – Every civilized country agrees that the government does not sanction illegal bloodshed, and yet it happens. Even worse, it has become glorified in the media. Worst, there are thousands of suicides every year and the numbers are mounting. I don’t mean to be a downer but life is precious and the question everyone should be asking is “Who gave anyone the right to snuff out this soul's light?”
3. Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous relationships – Intimacy is one of the most basic ways a person can emulate G-d: two people becoming a part of the ‘creation’ process. By twisting this natural bond between man and woman, we're moving away from the style of living G-d had in mind for us since the beginning of time. Homosexuality, incest and bestial relations are all forbidden under this heading. I’d like to make note: Jews and non-Jews are also forbidden to connect with one another.
4. Do not deny G-d – Paganism, before Christianity gained world domination, gave one the freedom to choose whichever G-d(s) he wanted to worship: the g-d of love, the g-d of war, the g-d of nourishment, perhaps the g-d of death. Atheism, originally starting out as a theorem in the mid 19th century also gave one the freedom to announce, "there's no such thing as monotheism (or any G-d ism for that matter)." However, since the theory of evolution has remained an unsolvable riddle to this very day it will probably go the the same way ancient Greek mythology did within a handful of decades. It seems the commandment given not to deny of G-d has been included as one the Noachide laws simply because disproving G-d was, and is, too tempting. However, any truth seeker will take comfort in, “Knowing Who is above you: a watching eye, an attentive ear…” (Ethics of our Fathers 2:1) Life has a rhythm, nothing is random and the One holding the reigns is taking care of us.
5. Do not steal – The reader may recall that the straw which broke the camel's back in Noah’s generation was petty theft. People can become founts of generosity with their personal possessions if they learn to have respect for property rights. This midda (character virtue) was missing in Noah's day. Do you know why stores nail their chairs to the floor and banks tie their pens to little strings? People, stop nabbing other peoples’ property.
6. Do not eat of a live animal – Law #6 did not actually come into play till after the deluge. This is because humanity was vegetarian up to but not post the flood.
7. Establish courts: legal systems that ensure law obedience – Our rabbis of blessed memory wrote, "Sometimes, war comes to the world through a delay of justice and the perversion of the Torah's teachings.”
What can we do to make the world a better place? The Noachide Laws are a wonderful place to start.