“He who is commanded and does stands higher than he who is not commanded and does.” Avoda Zara 3a
There is a hidden danger within the Noahide movement that concerns me so much that the subject is on my radar all the time. Just last night as I pondered aspects of it, another danger came to mind that I do not believe has been addressed.
Before I get into what concerns me, I want to lay down some ground work first.
The primary element of this hidden danger is zeal.
Zeal can be an asset but it also contains dangers.
The definition of zeal is, “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.”
Many people around the world are taking a very serious look at their religious beliefs, they are doing extensive investigations of those beliefs. What they are finding is very troublesome and are taking the courage to step away from their belief system. This is no small matter for many, their belief system is who they are, the essence of their being. It is a complete paradigm shift in who they are physically and spiritually.
For many a zeal for the Creator and His truth consumes them.
At the beginning of this new journey you find out that the Jews are suppose to have the answers, thus you set out to find a rabbi either locally or online.
I am going to brutally honest right now – In many cases, going to a rabbi is like going to the doctor – like the doctor a rabbi is trained to listen and from what you tell them, they will formulate and answer based on their training and experience – but like a doctor, they may have answers but they do not feel the pain you are in.
The pain you have gone through in this new journey will create a zeal in you, you are ready to grab any medication there is to help relive your pain.
Although there are medications that might relieve your pain, there will be some that may not be the right one – they may have dangerous side affects.
I want to share with you a couple of personal situations where zeal produced some negative side affects.
In my past religious life, I was a diehard Sabbath person. I was raised in a Sabbatarian denomination and through my journey I ended up with Messianic Christian beliefs. As a teacher who lead a home bible study group, I was eat up with zeal for the Sabbath.
My eldest daughter was on the first school dance team the school had ever had. One Saturday they had a dance competition in a neighboring state. Because I felt I needed to keep the Sabbath and lead my study group, I let her go and I stayed back.
This became one of my worst decisions, and I regret it to this day – my zeal lead me to do a command I was not given. I am still, 20 years later trying to make it up to my daughter in whom I hurt by not being by her side.
This next one is recent, but does not involve me directly.
A co-worker’s heating system went down. He asked me if I knew someone and I recommended a former business associate. Here is where the problem began. My present co-worker is a Seventh Day Adventist and my former business partner is a Southern Missionary Baptist preacher.
That weekend caused problems as the 7th Day didn’t want him to make repairs on Saturday and the Baptist preacher would not work on Sunday.
Religious zeal stopped what we as humans are supposed to be majoring on and that is helping one another.
The righteous of the nations are righteous for doing what is commanded of them and that is found in the Shevah Mitzvot Bnei Noach – the 7 Noahide laws and their details.
Yes, there are permissions to take on elective commandments BUT, these electives seems to be what so many are asking about – Zeal to relieve religious pain and desire leads many to the wrong medications.
He who is commanded and does stands higher than he who is not commanded and does. Avoda Zara 3a
Here is a danger that I do not believe has been address
Your zeal for elective mitzvot may be teaching your child a wrong message. If you do not strongly teach the Shevah Mitzvot and their details as a basis – your child is going to carry on your zeal and may even have guilt issues if they do not do those elective mitzvot that you adopted. Maybe when your child grows up to walk with Hashem on their own, those electives that you majored in will not be a concern for them but since the atmosphere you raised them in, they now feel as if they are doing something wrong when not doing something they were never commanded to begin with.
Think about this. It is a major issue within those leaving religion, they still crave religious activities – just like a drug addict when he is detoxing, the body still craves that substance that was damaging them.
I will close with an example I would like everyone to ponder in their relationship with the Creator.
A father comes to a son and tells him to go make his bed. The son goes into the bed room and is distracted by the closet. He sets out to clean up the closet. When he gets done, he is so proud of himself. He runs and gets his father to show him what he has done.
The father looks at the closet and compliments the work he has done and then he looks at the bed. The covers are all in shambles and the father looks the son and says, “You did not do what I asked you to do.”
The message of the quote from the Talmud and my story are the same – before we run off and do what we think is important, we need to do what Father has asked of us first.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Muukii on Unsplash