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Noahide Commandments
by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz
Translated by Yitzhak A. Oked Sechter
Reviewed and corrected by Yechiel Sitzman in consultation with Rabbi Yoel Schwartz

(c) by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz 2004,
permission to reproduce wthout change and with credit is hereby granted


This work deals mainly with the effort of defining the commandments that the non-Jewish nations should fulfill or make an effort to do so. In addition to the seven basic commandments, there are several other active commandments that have not been clarified and explained in depth in the scriptures and subsequent Torah literature. Just the same, according to what is written in the Torah the Talmud and the Midrash, we are able to learn something from the actions of those that existed before the Torah was given to Israel. According to the Talmud (Yomah 28b), the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob upheld more commandments than what the children of Noah were called upon to do. Even commandments that the sages turned into laws many generations later were kept by the Patriarchs.

According to these same sources, Jacob already upheld all of the 613 commandments of Judaism. This is why Jacob’s children are no longer called children of Noah but children of Israel. Just the same, we can learn from some of their actions and from their expectations from those that lived during their generation regarding the ways that any person who wants to come closer to G-d and attain spiritual fulfillment, should act.

The matters that we are trying to explain in this work are not in any way an effort to try and establish a new religion. It is rather an attempt to look at the Scriptures and other Torah literature and reach conclusions concerning what a person should do or try to do. Our prayers are that this modest beginning will bring others to write a complete book and that it should cover a greater scope. In order to help all those among the nations who are looking for ways to come closer to G-d.

Judaism forbids establishing a new religion, as explained by the Rambam (Kings 10, 5:6-9): “The principle of the matter: You cannot allow them to establish a new religion or to carry out commandments from this knowledge...” Anyway, what we are doing here in connection with the Children of Noah is not the establishment of a new religion. Since a foreigner (Gentile) is not ordered in writing to fulfill them, but only, if by his own free will, he wishes to carry out such commandments as the Rambam wrote: “We are not allowed to stop a child of Noah that seeks to be compensated by fulfilling the (some of those) laws of the Torah (that were only commanded to the Jews).” So it seems that the establishment of a new religion occurs only when a person comes and says that he has been ordered by G-d to fulfill such and such a law and not when he is trying to reach a degree of spiritual perfection by fulfilling the commandments that the children of Israel have been ordered to carry out.

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