Rabbi Moshe Shulman made a very interesting statement in his video interview discussing what a Noahide should do.
He comments on how, we of the non-Jewish nations are to be practical, making the world a better place to live for all humanity. He goes on and shares what I think is our spiritual duty – we are to help repair the world (using the Noahide Laws) and make it a vessel in which the priestly nation of Israel pulls down holiness from above to fill the vessel (paraphrased by me).
We are to live a life by the instructions for mankind found within the book of Genesis, the first book of the Torah in which the Creator instructed Moses to write. By doing this we are improving the world we live in.
The inspiration for this blog came from a story I heard from another person living by the above principle.
I share this story by permission, and I am retelling it from memory. This person who is a friend and lives in the state as I do is an inspiration for me and many others. He is a good example on living the Godly life that the Creator wants from all of us.
(Below is a paraphrased version of the story I heard him share.)
A few days back, my friend was in a home improvement store to pick up a few totes with lids, 2 to be exact. But when he got home he had noticed an extra totes, he has 3 totes and 2 lids.
He went back to the store and went to the customer service desk and laid the tote on the counter. He explained that he had bought 2 totes and lids but when he got home, he discovered he had a third tote. He told the customer service person that he was returning something he accidentally stole.
The CS person responded that was the right thing to do – my friend went on to explain yes, but it was more about doing what God had instructed us to do, not what we do by intellectual reason. He went on to explain to the person that we are to live by the instructions God gave us to live by.
When he started to leave, he said the person behind him was of the former faith he was in – this person told him that he was stupid for returning it.
Good home improvement starts with examining the foundation. There are reasons the floors or walls are buckled or cracked. A fault in the foundation will go all the way to the roof.
When a person wakes up to recognize that there are elementary instructions from the Creator all the way back in the book of Genesis – they are begining to examine the foundation of the life were are given.
Theft is probably the most extensive subject of the Seven Laws of Noah.
First, the Seven Laws are named after Noah because six of them were given to Adam and he passed them down to Noah and the seventh one was given to Noah after the flood. In Hebrew they are called ‘Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach’, today they are referred to as the Noahide Laws.
The Noahide Laws are not merely laws but are instructions – instructions on living a moral and ethical life. And the seven instructions are only categories, meaning there are many other sub-rules under each one. Again ‘theft’ being one that is very extensive as the one on ‘murder ‘ is.
The Sages of Israel teach us that the foundation of the Seven Laws can all be derived from Genesis 2.
Lets take a look at a foundational set of verses.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying: ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it;”
Everyone knows the story about Eve and the apple. The main thing taught about this story is that God said not to eat but our first parents did the opposite.
But there is more to the story that many overlook – before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit – they stole it – they committed theft.
From the two verses above, the 7 Noahide laws are derived. From the fact that God gave the first couple every tree to eat from, but one, one He kept for Himself. When Eve plucked the forbidden fruit from the tree, she in that moment committed theft and when she shared it with Adam, she share stolen property.
Theft is a crack in the foundation of man – it was one of the sins of the Flood – it is today found in every aspect of human life. This is one of the reasons the Prohibition of Theft is the most extensive law of the Noahide Laws.
A life of observing the Seven Laws of Noah should be grounded in the fact that our Creator has given us rules to live by, our actions are based on that fact not just intellectual reasoning. Do not get me wrong, intellectual reasoning to do what is right makes a person wise but doing them because God instructed us to, makes us righteous – we learn this principle from Noah a few chapters into the book of Genesis.
In conclusion I want us to look at one last thing.
The Hebrew first word of Torah and the name of the book is ‘Bereishit’, the Greek name is ‘Genesis’. – Bereishit is translated as ‘In the beginning or In the beginning of…” Genesis means ‘Origin’ – so the first book of the Torah can have a meaning for us as, ‘In the beginning of our origin.’
Like my friend above and multitudes around this planet from various different cultures and religious beliefs are waking up and finding out that the origin and meaning of life is found in the book of Genesis.
Many of us have begun the largest home improvement project of our lives – We are turning to the foundational book of Torah to examine the foundation of our lives so we can repair the home i.e. life we all were given.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Me