Learning my place within the Creator’s will for my life has been a journey to say the least. When I left Christianity I began studying for conversion into Orthodox Judaism. This meant that I began to remove my Christian ways and thoughts and take on the Jewish way of learning and thinking. This process went on for almost 7 years. Then through God’s Divine love, when the time was right, He showed me the path He wanted for my life. All those years of studying for conversion was not wasted, they would play a very important part of my learning that was still yet to come. Everything I have gone through has been training for what I now live and know.
For years during my Jewish studies, I felt my next phase of serving God was to be a Jew. What I learned was the importance of shedding the western, Roman, Greek way of learning about God and grasp the ancient Jewish way of learning who God is and His instructions for mankind that was given when it all started in the book of Genesis.
This has been a continual learning process, an evolving and discovering of who and what I am as one of God’s creations. When I started learning proper Torah I had to put away my Christian way of learning and thinking and take on the Torah way of thinking and learning as taught by teachers of Israel. During my conversion process, part of the learning was practicing how to do the different commandments given to Israel. Moving from that part of the path onto the path of the Noahide or righteous of the nations, I had to put the Jewish practices aside that pertained to Israel. I took my new Torah way of learning and began to learn what it was to be a human being created by God, to live without religion but by a set of instructions that guided my everyday life.
In our United States Constitution we have statement that tells us that the citizens of our country has a freedom of religion.
For me, living by the 7 Divine instructions of mankind found in the book of Genesis, known today as the Noahide Laws (named after Noah), they have given me a life free from religion but full of spirituality and meaning.
My teacher has said it best:
“Walking with God is reality, not a religion” Pesach Sherbow.
Now the preliminaries are out of the way, I want to get into the meat of this blog.
The main topic of this blog is about celebrating.
First here is a Google definition of the word ‘celebrate’ – “ acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.”
Yes, one can celebrate something without turning it into a religion or tying anything religious to it. Examples birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, milestones or rite of passage from one phase of life to another. Holidays, like the 4th of July here in the USA, Thanksgiving, Memorial day and Labor Day and so on. There are different celebrations in other cultures that has nothing to do with worship or religion.
These are times of joy and happiness of our human experience.
One of the hardest struggles for those who leave religion, is leaving behind its holidays and worship days. The struggle is very real and daunting for most, it probably is one of the hardest test for those who have chosen live by the 7 instructions of Genesis. At first it feels as if their lives are full of nothingness, that there is nothing to celebrate – just be a good boy/girl and don’t do this or that.
Being a Noahide is far from being dull and joyless.
Yes, the world turns so much of life into some form of religion or another but when you shed that way of learning and embrace what God has given us in a correct way. You will find a new kind of Joy of being His creation.
After 32 years of marriage and becoming empty-nesters, my wife and I still love to play house. This blog was inspired after a short shopping spree we went on.
On morning we went to Crackle Barrel for breakfast and of course afterward we roamed the Crackle Barrel store (It’s a southern custom), after finding an amazing winter decoration this took us to Hobby Lobby for further exploration.
All of this got me to pondering the subject of Noahide celebrations. This blog actually comes on the heals after looking into something I had questions about, and that was the coming of age a boy or girl when they are obligated to take on the Noahide laws for themselves as adults. The Noahide Laws Study Edition points out that it makes since to celebrate this time as a milestone of their life.
As I pondered this, I saw this as not a religious celebration (not creating a new religion or adding to the commandments we are given.) But more as a rite of passage into adulthood. Like when the some of the Native Americans would take a boy on his first hunt and his first deer taken was like a rite of passage into adulthood.
Don’t judge a book by its cover:
In the raw form of the 7 Noahide laws, they are void of religious rites, ceremonies or worship systems. This is a difficult thing to swallow for new people just learning the the Noahide Laws. But on the other hand this freedom from religion has opened some amazing doors for living the human experience.
As we learn more and more, we learn that part of the Noahide observance is not to create a new religion – but that does not mean one has to stop celebrating life.
Now comes the fun part for me.
After I looked into the subject of moving from childhood to adulthood and our little shopping spree we went on. I started pondering a verse that the Sages of Israel has given us much insight on dealing with another issue. But as I ponder it I began to see something that could be drawn from it.
What I am about to go into is from my own meditation along with other Noahide studies that I have done that is related to this subject. I am using what I have learned to expand my understanding of such topics.
People of the earth:
First, understand the Torah is not broken down into chapter and verse, that is a human creation to help read it. So these two verses naturally flow together.
Genesis 8:22 – Genesis 9:1
“While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
Those of us of the nations are created and given duties of the earth, while Israel was created and given duties of heaven. It takes both of us to complete the work man was given to do. It is metaphorically like the nations are the body and Israel is the soul. The body has duties and needs as well as the soul.
They are the body and soul of humanity as a whole and must work together to be complete in their creation.
When I first come across the subject of what was termed as a Noahide Bar/Bat Mitzvah, everything in me said no that is a Jewish practice and it could become a religious additive to the Noahide, which would not be correct for us. But when I looked into the subject further, it is a principle that is found in other cultures as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. For the Jews it is accepting of the laws of Sinai that is accumbent for the boy or girl reaching the sage of adulthood. The same can be for those of the nations. A time of celebration when one becomes obligated to keep the laws of God that He gave them to live by to be moral and ethical human beings.
That being said; as I went back and looked at the passages from Genesis again I saw something. The seasons of the earth does not cease, and we are told to fill the earth.
The problems with humans is that in the past they became worshipers of the creation. This has tainted so much of the human experience.
As Noahides we do not worship any form of the creation, we and only server and worship the Creator in the way He has commanded. We are not permitted to invent how we serve or worship Him.
Something my wife and I do:
My wife, like most women, loves to decorate the home, making it her place. She loves plants and our home and her office at work has plants everywhere, even her bosses compliments her bring life to the office.
As a new tradition in our Noahide home, we like to celebrate the seasons we are given as mentioned in Genesis 8:22. They are naturally part of our life cycle.
We have seasonal theme decorations.
Spring and summer we put up some birds, frogs and small plaques with summer type sayings or quotes. For fall we have the colors of Fall, scented candles of cinnamon, pumpkin, apple pie, she found some small straw people to stick in a few of her plants, Happy Harvest plaques and owls dressed in the fall colors and so on. Then winter my wife loves snowmen, she tries to find a different one each year to add to her collection. We have fake snow and set up winter scenes. At Crackle Barrel we found a decoration in the form of a deer antler with a fox, squirrel, and cardinal on in the snow.
This gives us something to look forward to with the changing of the seasons.
Oh, I do not want to forget. At the phase of life, we do not have pets. We like being free to come and go for a change. But that being said, we started a new tradition when we sold our house and moved into an apartment. We have been collecting different stuffed animals. Of course our first one was not an animal, he is Mr. Wiggles our little stuffed snow man and he is out all year with the others – Norman our land turtle, Rocky our fox, and Eor our sea turtle. They occupy our love seat in the living room.
Nothing religious but some fun celebrating the seasons and life in which we were given to live as we settle the earth.
Learning to celebrate life without making it a religion has become a growth issue as we learn more and more about the Noahide life.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Andre Hunter on Unsplash
Here are some photos of our Fall decorations for the season and our pets