7 Noahide Laws

Imagine a world in which there was no sense of right and wrong. Imagine a world without the concept of justice or system of law, without the family unit or moral and ethical values. Does it seem frightening? Perhaps a little too real? Such a society did once exist. Self-cantered, grasping, cruel. A society set to self-destruct 4000 years ago, in the great flood.

Out of its demise, a new world was born beginning 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, a physically frail creature, is surrounded by forces of life and death far greater than he is. 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 good 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 HlM
Do Not Blaspheme His Name

When we feel disappointed with life, when things do not work out as we feel they should, how easy it is to point an accusing finger and blame ... everyone ... everything ... even G-d.

Loyalty and trust are essential 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.

G-d is certainly just, but a finite mind cannot comprehend G-d who is infinite.


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 FAMlLY

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, bestiality, sodomy, and 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 blessing. 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 gave man "dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the heaven, over the cattle, and over all of the earth."

We are the 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 provides a measure of how well the other six laws are being observed.

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The Sages teach that when a non-Jew keeps these laws because they are good and reasonable, he is considered wise. However if he observes because G-d commanded them to Moses at Sinai, he is considered saintly and earns himself eternal life in the world to come, with a spiritual reward comparable to that of a Jewish High Priest.

In addition, when man fulfills his potential, the whole of creation is nurtured and elevated to realize its goal. This transforms the world into a beautiful place where G-d will choose to dwell in a revealed way, very, very soon.  

 

Prohibition of Idolatry Belief in One G-d

Every person should believe in the existence of the one and only Creator of the world. He creates the world and every person, and knows all our actions and thoughts. He observes them and judges each person according to his deeds. He is the one and only G-d whom we must worship and to whom we should pray.

The practical meaning of this commandment is: a complete prohibition to bow down or worship idols of any kind or to believe in another god or any other created entity or force.

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Prohibition of Blasphemy Respect G-d

Each person has to give respect to the Creator of the world, who granted him life and the world to live in. The practical meaning of this commandment is the prohibition to curse G-d or call Him any derogatory or disrespectful name.

Prohibition of Murder Respect Life

Man is created in the ‘image’ of G-d. Man’s life is a holy gift, which no one has the permission to take away from him. One should respect and encourage the continuation of mankind. One who kills a soul it is considered as though he has murdered the entire world and harmed the Creator in whose image he was created. The practical meaning of the commandment is a complete prohibition to kill any human being, including a fetus in its mother’s womb.

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Prohibition of Theft Respect Human Property

G-d has granted each person the ownership over his money and possessions, and no one is permitted to take them away from him. This includes also the prohibition to holdover payment, the prohibition to kidnap a person, young or old. The practical meaning of this commandment is a strict prohibition of stealing or robbery or any kind of taking a possession away from one’s disposal by force or by fraud or in any other illegal way. Sensitivity to another person’s money or property inspires us also to do acts of charity and kindness.

Prohibition of Theft Respect Marriage

G-d has granted each person the ownership over his money and possessions, and no one is permitted to take them away from him. This includes also the prohibition to holdover payment, the prohibition to kidnap a person, young or old. The practical meaning of this commandment is a strict prohibition of stealing or robbery or any kind of taking a possession away from one’s disposal by force or by fraud or in any other illegal way. Sensitivity to another person’s money or property inspires us also to do acts of charity and kindness.

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Prohibition to Eat Part Cut From a Living Creature Respect Animals

G-d created living creatures in the world, and we must respect their existence. As opposed to the flora, which is renewed continuously, harm to animals is irreversible. Although the Torah is not negating the eating of meat, it sets strict limits to the ability of a person to use animals for his needs. This commandment, which obliges us not to be indifferent even to the suffering of an animal, enhances also our obligation to be aware of another person’s sorrow, not to hurt him and to help him come out of his stress. The practical meaning of this commandment is prohibition to eat a limb or tear out a limb taken from an animal while it is still alive.

Appointment of Judges Establishing a Court System

In order that all the above laws will be properly observed, courts of justice should be established in every city (or zone), with judges, who will make decisions with regard these commandments and have the authority to punish those who transgress them. Every person who has an argument will be able to go to these appointed judges and obey their judgment.

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