One of the struggles many Noahide’s experience today, is the inward desire to express their faith or belief like others do, who are in the religions of this world. The basic 7 Laws are categories of behavior and not belief. They are void of religious expression or are they?
This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, as I have talked with several from all over the world who now are learning to live by the 7 Laws given to mankind by the Creator. They come from different religions and struggle with a void of expression of their faith. In their old religions they had religious rites, ceremonies and even community. For the most part, Noahides are scattered all over the world with very little face-to-face contact with others of the same persuasion. This is a major hurdle for a Noahide pioneers to jump.
I have begun the learning the book The Noahide Laws Study Guide a project of Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim, in it, on page 20, it states, “The central issue concerning the Noahide laws today is that of finding positive, acceptable modes of non-Jewish religious expression.”
What I write next is from my own non-Jewish meditation of the subject at hand. What I write is from me and not from any other Noahide or Rabbinic books or Torah teachers. I have learned a little Torah over the past 10 or so years, but only have I spent the last couple of years studying it from a Noahide perspective. As I have stated in the past, from around 2010 to 2017ish I have studied from an Orthodox Jewish perspective as part of my studies for conversion. Here recently, I have slowly been going back and reexamining Torah passages from a Noahide perspective; so I can learn how to apply what I had already learned and what I am now learning to a Noahide lifestyle – a lifestyle of a non-Jew walking with the God of Israel.
With the above in mind, I have revisited a familiar section of the Torah in Parsha Ki Sisa, to examine it from a Noahide perspective to see what I could learn from it at this angle. The Sages of Israel teach there are 70 faces of Torah – turn it and turn it again, everything is in it.
Again this is from my own meditation and I do not declare it to have an answer to this current issue but I only bring my thoughts to the table.
In Parsha Ki Sisa we find Moses asking to see the Face of God and was told that He nor any many could see it and live. Then we are told that God passed before him and it is in that passing I think we can find part of the answer to the above current issue. Lets look at it.
I will not be posting the whole passage but only that which I think we can learn from in this situation. Its not cherry picking as parts of the passage deals expressly with God and we do not have a horse in that race, so-to-speak.
“Hashem passed before him and proclaimed: …Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to Anger, and Abundant in Kindness and truth…” Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash
Now, understand what was going on here – God was expressing to Moses Who He was and is
In Genesis 9 we are told why murder is such an evil thing. And from it we then can tie it to the passage in Exodus 34.
“He who spills human blood shall have his own blood spilled by man, for God made man with His own image.” The Living Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Lets consider all this together – God created man in His image and that image God showed Moses. It was God’s expression of Who He was. So since we are created in that same image then when we display such traits we are not only showing the world the image of God in us but who we truly are as He created us.
So true expression of Noahide faith is the display of compassion, mercy, slow to anger, kindness and truth. Out of everything God could have shown Moses, it was this expression, forever written down in the eternal Torah. Here before Moses our teacher – the teacher of the Jews and non-Jews, the Creator did not display any religious rites, rituals or ceremonies to show Who He was or is.
To truly outwardly express our faith in the Creator it starts with using the very expression He used and in them we will find elements of all the 7 Laws given to Adam, Noah and all of mankind. There is no greater expression of faith than to emulate the Great Creator in the way He has shown us who He is, and again it is part of His image created in us to begin with.
In all actuality, when we leave the religions of the world to take on the old path that was given to our forefathers by the Creator we are taking back God given birthright.
Within our birthright, in which we were kidnapped from, were given by the Creator His image, His attributes of compassion, kindness, truth and so on. Again, it is these things we express, we show the world who we are and what we believe.
Our expressions no longer are contained in a piece of jewelry around our neck, a day in which we congregate or even a church or temple of like minded believers. Our congregation is the world outside our window – where the Creator placed us. It is to that congregation we express our faith in the Creator by being kind, truthful and merciful. When we observe the 7 Universal Laws in our neighborhoods we are displaying our faith better than any ritual or ceremony could ever do.
Letting the Jews be the light, a light we follow but not become – its not our job to become the light.
One of the disturbing trend in many Noahide circles is that the non-Jew are becoming and acting like a jr Jew. That is not what the light of the Jews are for. They have their own path and we have ours but we are to learn from them, and there is a lot they do we can learn from without becoming jr Jews.
Here are a few examples:
1. Bless the Creator before we eat. Even though He has provided our food, we do not need to be presumptuous. We do not want to appear that we are stealing from Him. We do not have to say the same prayers as they do but look to them as an example. Psalms 145 is a great source to build a prayer upon. The Creator gives us food at its intended time and open His hand to take care of us.
2. Being grateful for the multitudes of things in life. Having gratefulness always on your lips and in your heart. Such things like thanking the Creator after using the restroom (not in the restroom of course but outside of it). Thanking Him after we have eaten or experienced any kind of salvation from something troublesome. and the list is endless.
3. Studying and learning our part of Torah. Studying and working on character traits.
4. Modesty – every culture has its own form of modesty, even though in some cultures, modest ways has been neglected or even lost. Even in the USA back in the 1920s – 1940s gentile men and women were modest in dress and character.
In closing I want to take a quote from an article Rabbi Friedlander wrote,
“The spiritual task at hand is the gentile’s main priority, not the prayer service at Synagogue, because God created spiritual flexibility as an intrinsic power in normative humans.” The Role of the Gentile by Rabbi Friedlander
“The spiritual task at hand” – where are you at, are you at work, at the store, on the freeway, in the hospital, at home with the family, at the movies or even a ball game?
No matter where or when you are at, the obedience of the 7 Laws is a display of your faith and the full expression of the image of God in you shown to Moses on that mountain thousands of years ago.
Terry W. Hayes – ben Noach
Photo Credit: Steve Halama on Unsplash
4 thoughts on “Noahide Expression of Faith”
Terry, that is probably the best blog article you have written. Thank you. For me, and many, many others, this has been a problem. In my case, not feeling as though I am as observant as the next, as though I am still just some kind of wannabe….. and yet, as Moses said in his Deuteronomy address, hey, guys, this ain’t rocket science, you can do this. Slight paraphrase there. Just be a good, kind, generous human, and give GOD the glory….. My very favorite verse in the entire Bible …….HE has shown you, O Man, what is good…..do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your GOD…..
When I first was pondering this subject the verse about God showing Himself to Moses is what came to mind and thus my mind went from there.
It really is simple and that is the hard thing for most.
If you have the Garden of Wisdom from Rabbi Arush I really recommend it. It is a teaching on Rabbi Nachman of Breslov tail of the Simpleton and the Sophisticate. It about serving God with simplicity.
I am seldom moved to comment on a blog posting.This one forced me to extend my gratitude for what your mini thesis has helped me see about God that I have had trouble putting into a coherent context.
I have led an erratic existence. I grew up a military brat. I am a Vietnam Veteran. I was a rock band front man, a business owner and a former church pastor of 21 years. I am now disabled and retired, thanks to my exposure to agent orange during the war.
To cut to the chase, this has caused me to realign my relationship with the Creator in a way that was more personal way than I ever felt in churchianity. And the result was that I discovered the 7 laws. I now understand why I was never comfortable with the rituals, history, the contradictory liturgy, the struggle to find more converts to bring more shekels to the temple (church tithes) and calling it evangelism.
I have had a hard time navigating the various groups and writers on the 7 laws and I kept thinking that no sane God would make it so hard to recognize our standing with Him and follow the Way.
Your writing helped me to encapsulate my thoughts and help me to shed more of the trappings of the inanity of the false path.
Sorry it took so long to respond, been very busy.
Thank you for your kind words.
After writing this I have given it much thought and what I think many coming from religion confuse is religion with spirituality. There is a lot of spirituality within the 7 Laws, our spirituality comes from connecting with the Creator through these instructions. Noah walked with Him and so can we and it is not in a religious way. And there is a lot of freedom in this.
Navigating through the various Noahide groups can be daunting as well.
I have partnered up with a Jewish man in Israel who has Torah for the Nations center in Tzfat. We have the same feelings on how even the Noahides are forming denominations – we are not for that, we try to teach the 7 Laws and stay away from all the fringe stuff that can lead people down rabbit trails. The 7 laws can be deep but very simple at the same time, no brain surgery needed LOL.
Hope everything goes well with you.