Time has come for me to step up and write on the subject of Noahide frustration. That being said, there are several issues that cause a non-Jew seeking the God of Israel to become frustrated in his or her journey. This blog, will be dealing with one of the issues of Noahide frustration, it frustrates Noahides and Jews alike.
First the definition of frustration: “the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something”
“… inability to change or achieve something”
One of the cause of Noahide frustration is the subject of conversion.
I understand the extreme desire for conversion and I also know its weight.
For those who may read this and do not know me or my writings let me share something with you about myself.
Towards the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009 I rejected the deity and message of Christianity and turned to the One God of Israel. Shortly afterward my wife and I began our journey toward Orthodox Jewish conversion. We did not know of any other choice. In that journey several rabbis told us to just be a Noahide. We did not know what this was and felt that becoming a Jew would be a better and closer walk with God – until the Fall of 2016 when during meditation and prayer I came to the conclusion that conversion was not our path. Our path was to walk with our Creator as a non-Jew a Noahide as we call it today.
So, I am well aware of all the aches and pains of wanting to convert to Orthodox Judaism. I am also aware of its weight. Yes there is a weight that comes with it. Once you become Jewish all your family and friends are gentile, this changes things drastically – If there was any kind of relationship with them – it is forever changed and if children and grandchildren are involved this will become a major issue you may not know or understand yet and you need to make this a priority in talking to a rabbi about.
The next statement I am about to make is bold and will most likely step on some toes. You need to read all the way through to know how and why I would make such a statement.
An observant Jew is no closer to the Creator than an observant Noahide.
There I said it, the cat is out of the bag – now for the explanation.
As a non-Jew you see Jews doing many activities like, observing Shabbat, eating kosher, praying three times a day, observing special holidays, putting on teffilin, mezuzah and so on and you think by being able to do these things would make you closer to the Creator. Not being able to do these things frustrates you.
Been there, done that, and I have the tallit to prove it.
King Soloman in his closing statements of the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that to become a complete person is to fear God and keep His commandments. Keeping His commandments does not mean you have to be a Jew – it says in the Hebrew a complete human/person.
Not every commandment in the Torah is for everyone, God divides the commandment up, even in Israel. There are commandments of Temple service given to the tribe of Levi – that points to the fact that not just any Jew outside of the tribe of Levi is permitted to do those commandments, even though they are in the Torah. Think about this – is a observant Levite singing in the Temple closer to God than an observant Jew plowing in a field outside the walls of Jerusalem?
I want to share something with you that came to mind while in meditation, that opened my eyes to the fact that conversion was not my path.
One day in 2016 I was sitting on my front porch, we had been trying to sell our house so we could move to a Jewish community to begin our next step in our conversion process. Every contract we got on the house fell through. As I sat there a phrase came rushing through my mind.
“My soul waits for You O God.”
I knew this was a song or in the Psalms somewhere, I looked it up on my computer and found it in Psalms 62. For the first time since 2009, I questioned myself about why I was wanting to convert instead of always coming up with answers to everyone else’s questions about me converting.
Take a look at this:
Psalm 62: 6-8
For God alone, wait silently, my soul – because from Him is my hope. He alone is my Rock and Salvation; my Stronghold, I shall not falter. Upon God rest my salvation and my glory, the Rock of my strength, my refuge – is in God. (Artscroll Tehillim)
I have some questions for you dear Noahide – Can you upon your heart pray those statements? Is the Creator, the God of Israel your hope, salvation, rock and refuge? Do you wait on Him alone and no other?
Answer this question: How much more will conversion add to what God is already for you, how much more can God be than what He already is? This is the question I asked myself.
Conversion does not change God, it changes you. But wait, you may say that is the point. But in all truth, it does not change your closeness to God, it only changes your responsibilities before Him. This goes back to my opening statement between and observant Jew and observant Noahide.
That all being said, now to the very point that upsets me about the Noahide conversion issue.
There are non-Jews, Jews and some of those Jews are rabbis that cause frustration among non-Jews trying to find and understand their walk with the Creator.
I have read threads about the subject of conversion in Noahide Facebook groups, where it is stated that conversion is the better path. WRONG!
It is for those that are suppose to be a Jew, but not everyone is created to be a Jew. There is a deep subject on the Jewish soul that I will not get into, see a rabbi on that subject. The fact is that the majority of humanity was not created to be Jewish.
For those Jews and non-Jews who belittle the Noahide Laws and Covenant I have something to share with you. It is a story I learned during my studies for conversion, and its deeper meaning can be applied to everyone who makes the Noahide Laws second class or less than best.
“ Once upon a time, R. Shimon Ben Elazar came out of his teacher’s home in Migdal Eder, riding on his donkey along the seaside. He came upon a man who was extremely ugly. The rabbi said, “Why are you so ugly? Are all the people in your town as ugly as you are?” The man replied, “go to the artist who made me and tell him, how ugly is this vessel you have made!” The rabbi realized he had been in the wrong, and got off the donkey to kneel before him. He begged the man, please forgive me! The man replied, “I will not forgive you until you have gone to the artist who made me and told him, how ugly is the vessel you have created!” (This story can be found in its entirety on Jewish websites like chabad.org)
When a person, Jew or non-Jew belittles the Noahide and the Noahide Laws they are in a sense calling them ugly or less than.
I implore everyone who belittles the Noahide or Noahide Laws in any way go and do what this statement from the story says to do, “go to the artist who made me and tell him, how ugly is this vessel you have made!”
It is time to stop causing confusion and frustrations for the non-Jew seeking their Creator.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash
10 thoughts on “Noahide Frustration”
Asking which is better a Jew or Noahide is like asking “which is more important the engine or transmission?” Both are needed! The proof is woven throughout the Bible e.g. “My house will be a house of prayet for All Nations!” “The heavens will rejoice, the earth will exult and the nations will declare H-d rules!” etc.
Author of “How the rainbow got its stripes.” A childrens book about the Noahide laws.
Thank you for your comment.
Do you have a link to your book? I know some who may be interested. Just talked with someone to day about the lack of children books for Noahides
Thank you Terry for posting this,,,Your writings come from your heart,as Hashem prompts you to tell it. I totally agree with what your saying,and hope to read more of your blogs…The are so inspiring, and I learn from them.To worship Hashem only has given me so much freedom to follow the 7 Noahide principles …
Wow! I didn’t realize how bad I needed to read something like this! Thank you
Hi Terry, thank you for posting a link to my book, How the Rainbow got its Stripes. Here is the story behind it.
Almost everyone knows the story of Noah’s Ark, and how Noah saved two of every animal from the Great Flood. In How the Rainbow got its Stripes, Noah protects his pets, as well. To thank Noah for saving their lives, they look for rules to help everyone live in peace after the Flood. Eventually, they find seven basic laws which form the basis for the seven colors and stripes of the rainbow.
The story was created by writer and retired chaplain Len Estrin, who previously visited several PA correctional facilities for the Aleph Institute, Northeast Region. “Today’s society is torn by strife,” Estrin said. “My book emphases the values we have in common; rather than the opinions that drive us apart.”
Estrin could have picked any illustrator, why did he choose one on death row? “I asked several artists, but none worked out. An inmate suggested Kevin Marinelli to show how people with vastly different backgrounds could unite for a better world.”
Mr. Marinelli was convicted of a murder that occurred during a 1994 robbery. His sentence is currently under appeal. How the Rainbow Got its Stripes represents Marinelli’s first effort as an illustrator. Says Mr. Marinelli, “The project was very rewarding and I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I’d love for some kid to see my illustrations and realize no matter where you are, no matter how far gone you feel you are, there’s always hope for a better life, to be a better person and to do something positive with yourself.”
Mr. Estrin echoes Mr. Marinelli’s opinion. “These seven laws can help hit the reset button on society by stressing the moral foundation we all have in common. Even the U.S. Congress has recognized their importance.”
In 1991, the 102nd Congress passed Joint Resolution 104 which declared “ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws.” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/102nd-congress/house-joint-resolution/104/text/enr)
According to Mr. Estrin, the laws of Noah apply to Jews and Gentiles alike, and should not interfere with personal religious practice. Rather, he claims, the laws enhance it. “The laws help people live peaceful and happy lives. For that reason, How the Rainbow Got its Stripes is a fable for our times.”
How the Rainbow Got its Stripes is available on Amazon.com
Thank you for this explanation. I am putting a copy in my wish list.
I received a link to your blog from a friend and happy I read it, because it was very encouraging. I think many people struggle with an identity problem when they want to come closer to G-d and want to make more contact with Jewish people and Jewish literature who does makes us feeling second class people. Happily there are websites or blogs like yours and other rabbis who has a heart for every soul on earth (jewish or Noahide) and tell that Hashem loves us just as much.
Thank you for your kind words.
My teacher Pesach Sherbow has helped me and many others to see and understand our place within creation.
this was a very interesting post. well done.