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First Covenant

Covenant Connection


Volume 7, Issue 1   February 2012 ... Shevat 5772


God is Not a Tyrant; The Torah Sages and the First Covenant

 HaShem, the 7M, and Religion

 Maimonides and the 7M

Building a Campus



 God is Not a Tyrant; The Torah Sages and the First Covenant

      We should have cleared this up before…

We work hard to represent the Torah faithfully, to make everything that emanates from this foundation perfectly reflective of Torah (the Torah, the “Instruction,” “Way” or “Teaching” of HaShem). Our God, HaShem, is the God of Truth. So when we talk about the 7M - the Sheva Mitzvot or Seven Commandments, the Torah and universal moral teachings that apply to everyone, both Jew and non-Jew - we do it pursuant to the Rule of Truth, the ancient Teachings of the Rabbis of Israel.

We don't just make stuff up, in other words. The discipline we get from HaShem and from our ancestors of blessed memory requires complete dedication to what is real, including painstaking faithfulness to the sacred sources.

This means that when you read something here that's utterly unlike what others teach about the 7M, it's not because those others are “more traditional” or pious than we are. That's not it. They just approach the subject differently.

    Other “7M authorities” accept certain commonplace, conventional ideas about the subject that completely miss the mark, as we see it. Their thinking comes out of a ragbag of miscellaneous comments from ancient times from very few scholars. They don't cross-check those comments and they don't put them into logical context. And then they deliberately ignore what the last thousand years - of realized prophecies, of gradually unfolding Revelation - have to teach us!

We have argued against this approach over more than two decades. It's crude and primitive. It ignores many authorities and misinterprets others. And it gives ammunition to all the anti-Semites and adversaries of HaShem who claim that the Noahide Law belongs to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a tool in some plot to enslave gentile humanity!

Of all the crazy things…

We should also point this out, a very important principle: we, unlike these colleagues, also follow the hallowed - and actually, if you think about it, self-evident - Torah principle that, just as HaShem the One Eternal God (blessed be His Name) is infinitely holy, compassionate and wise, so are His covenants. So are His laws.

      Conventional thinking isn't necessarily the truest thinking. A teaching that's orthodox with a small 'o' it isn't necessarily Jewishly Orthodox, capital 'O.'

Frankly, we expect our approach, which is deeply Traditional (that is, Orthodox, with a capital O), to ultimately prevail. It hasn't fully made it to that point yet, so some of our statements are still more controversial than they should be. Or will be. But please bear with us. Change is coming.

    Q. Speaking about the basic nature of God's laws: what does it mean, to be holy, compassionate and wise?

    A. It means (among other things) that the 7M never command any punishment which is cruel, excessive, or unreasonable. God's laws are never unjust; they never mandate punishment for anyone except true evil-doers - people who are doing what they know, or clearly should know, to be seriously wrong.

Now, someone sent us a book, Guide for the Noahide: a Complete Manual for Living by the Noahide Laws/a Complete Guide to the Laws of the Noahide Covenant and Key Torah Values for All Mankind (by Rabbi Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron. Lightcatcher Books, Springdale, Arkansas, 2010. 2nd edition). It's a nice-looking paperback created by some nice people (in fact, the publishers also published our book, Rainbow Covenant), with several impressive-looking rabbinic endorsements - and it exemplifies the conventional, supposedly traditional approach to the 7M that makes the 7M look ridiculous.

    To be fair to Mr. Bar-Ron, who does have a few good, sound things to say in this book of his, most writers fail to “get” the basic principle here. The Divine Code; Volume One (by Weiner and Shulman) which we've reviewed here in Covenant Connection [Feb. 2009], contains the same strange thinking.

    What's their error, precisely? They recognize this aspect of Hebrew Revelation: that the Seven Laws were revealed to Israel and Israel, alone of all the nations, retains custody of the original historic charter, the few terse syllables of the Seven Commandments. The Seven Precepts/Mitzvot, or “Connections,” the simple dont's (no murder, no incest, no stealing, etc.) are the Magna Carta of the great Noahide covenant, the universal moral Law in crisp outline form. But, even though Israel has “kept the faith” by keeping alive the memory of these laws, the laws themselves, the great moral principles, still belong to every Noahide everywhere. And that's where our distinguished colleagues lose it. Once you have the principles you can figure out the details rationally, by yourself. You don't need to turn your laws and lawmaking over to a bunch of foreigners and rabbis.

      Repeating this same point, our erring colleagues think that, because the Noahide laws are, supposedly, unknown apart from the Torah wisdom of Jewish rabbis, the only way to understand them goes through Hebrew Revelation and the ancient traditional texts of Israel. But this neglects the truth that the 7M are all logical laws, even in their details.

The 7M all spring completely naturally from the Revealed universal Teaching of “b'tzelem elokim.” See Genesis 5:1: every human individual is sacred. All men (and women) are 'made,' in a sense, in the 'Image' of God. B'tzelem - made, created, as elo[k]im, God.

This over-arching truth, b'tzelem elokim, “created in the Image of God,” means that all men (including women) have infinite worth, and that we all belong to the same family - the family of man. The Golden Rule follows: “what is hateful to you, do not do to your brother” and “you shall love your neighbor (and the “stranger”) as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; 19:34)

    “This is the Whole Law,” Hillel said, “the rest is just commentary. Now, go and study it.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a.

Actually, Hillel notwithstanding, this isn't the whole of the Law, the entire Torah, the “Teaching,” or “Instruction”; it's just the Universal Law.

The Noahide or Universal Law is all the Torah's “rational” statutes, laws and ordinances. It is every precept that makes sense, in the context of the universally Revealed truth of b'tzelem elokim/”created in the Image.” These are all the “natural law” precepts that appear in the text of Torah Revelation, the laws like “don't steal,” “don't murder,” etc. These are the precepts that would be apparent to us, so it's said, even if God had never specifically Revealed them. This is the Noahide Law at the heart of the Torah, the Universal moral precepts that apply to every human being.

Besides the Noahide precepts, however, we - the human race - have two more sets of laws:

    God at Sinai gave Israel a trove of ritual statutes and symbolic worshipful observances, beyond the Golden Rule, the Universal Law and all “natural law.” How should a holy nation worship a holy God? That's the subject of the rest of the Torah - the part that goes beyond “love your neighbor” to teach constant God-consciousness and deepest truths about the unseen universe of the spirit. We know most of what we know about the spiritual universe, and these principles and precepts, only due to Revelation.

      These laws govern Israel alone - God gave them to Israel for the whole world's benefit, for every nation to learn - for Israel to incorporate each of them into its national life as binding law shaping the lives and character of Jewish families and individuals worldwide.

    2) All the laws, including their details, which Noahides devise for themselves - the generally applicable rules and statutes that govern everyday life and commerce.

      Every country has its own Noahide Law system that corresponds, at least in part, to the Seven precepts of Noahism. Stealing, murder, incest, adultery, anarchy, cruelty, etc. poison human society anywhere and no country can tolerate much of them for long. A “failed state” is a country that lacks Noahide Law.

      Beyond the general Seven precepts, the basis of this system isn't Revelation but history and logic. The Noahide Law of each country - each nation's laws, basically; every generally applicable law, and the way that people actually get treated - comes from a political process, combining accumulated experience, history and logic.

These are real laws and people have a lot invested in them. Any notion that the rabbis of Israel alone can determine how the laws should work, that the peoples who should govern themselves - or, rather, as our colleagues' books teach, suffer being governed by others - pursuant to these laws, should simply accept them on faith, in all their many details, as handed down to them by rabbis… That is totally unreal. It has nothing to do with Torah. It contradicts the Torah.

    Put it this way. The “Word of the Lord, HaShem, will come from Jerusalem,” the Bible says (Micah 4:2) - but HaShem makes the nations themselves responsible for their part of things, the Noahide Law.

    Israel, God says, is His “first born” among the nations (Exodus 4:22; Psalms 89:27). That is, the first-born, not the Father!

      First-borns deserve respect from their siblings - the benefit of the doubt; some deference as the one child in the family with the longest acquaintanceship with the parent, the Father - but not unconditional obedience!

      Nothing about being the first-born gives Israel, or any group of Jewish rabbis, the right, responsibility, power, ability, or wisdom to order around the other family members! 

HaShem, the 7M, and Religion 

Continuing this argument… as we mentioned in the last Covenant Connection, among other places, “A hallmark of the Universal Covenant Law is its obviousness.”

Now, quite a few of our readers already believe in HaShem. Their and our theology is from Sinai, in other words; whether we are Jews or non-Jews, we subscribe to the precepts, the ideology, of Judaism. We share, in our varying capacities - whether we are Levites (members of the tribe of Levi), cohanim (Levites who are priests, descendants of Aaron) or plain Jews, or, on the other hand, Noahides, or non-Jews - the religion of Israel with the prophets of Israel.

Everybody, eventually, will turn to HaShem and to this way of thinking (the Bible guarantees it), but right now the world's knowledge of HaShem still doesn't go very far beyond Israel. Very few non-Jews - thousands, perhaps, or even a few million unusually enlightened folks, among billions of human souls - have any understanding whatever of the meaning of the Name HaShem!

This doesn't make the billions of unenlightened people criminals, 7M-violators, any more than it makes saints out of the relative few of us who have acquired a bit of HaShem-consciousness. Yet our erring colleagues insist that anyone who worships any god or force or being other than HaShem is, basically, a criminal idolator.

Don't believe it! Even though we agree with our colleagues on this point, that the nations should look to Jerusalem, not Rome or Athens, Mecca or Lhasa, if they hope to know the God of Israel or serve Him as they should. But we reject the idea that the 7M command this, or that God obligates non-Jews to submit themselves to Jewish rabbis as humble followers and students, as a matter of basic decency, as a minimal requisite of all true civilization! 

    Again, this defines a 7M crime: conduct that's so clearly contrary to the Golden Rule and its foundation, the universally revealed truth that “man exists in the Image of God” (i.e., that the individual human being is sacred), that everybody, everywhere, ought to clearly know it's wrong.  

Murder, robbing neighbors or strangers, oppressing the weak and innocent, flagrant sexual perversion, eating meat torn from a still-living mammal, “worshipping” by committing crimes that no god worth worshipping would ever countenance … Every half-grown person, from Cairo to Kansas, from the North Pole to Nairobi, in the Stone Age or Modern Age or any age, should know enough to recoil from all that - and, in fact, from all conduct that violates the 7M.

Indeed, God imputes such knowledge to us. His Law presumes that we do know enough not to steal, not to murder, etc. Pursuant to the obligation of “din,” or “Law,” He also commands us to do something about wrongdoing; that we (obviously) need to establish courts and laws (with all their details) and organizations, rather than tolerating epidemic stealing, murder, etc.  

    Some peoples' “fathers have inherited nothing but lies” (Jeremiah 16:19), so human culture often masks the truth - in countries where suicide and “mercy killing” are part of the culture, for instance, or where people's strange ideas about ultimate reality have them believing that cruelty and lewdness are OK with their gods or God. But cultural relativism can't ever turn evil into good into good into evil.

    We need to recognize that HaShem anticipated us, human beings, endlessly inventing new justifications for breaching His commonsense laws, no matter how obvious they should be; this is one of the reasons He created Israel, in fact; to pester the nations with His higher consciousness truths, to keep pushing them towards the 7M and the truth of b'tzelem elokim. This is also one of the higher functions of the 7M, the seven extremely terse statements of what God demands of us all and what civilization requires: we can always turn to it to light our way.

    Murder is always wrong (murder, by definition, is the unjustified killing of an innocent human being). Killing a healthy unborn child, whose heart has begun to beat, who has begun to feel, and develop human features, in a healthy mother's womb, is never good or right. Allowing men and boys to freely have sex with other men and boys is, guaranteed, no way to make the world better. Suicide bombing your enemies' youngsters won't bring you closer to God.

One thing God does not impute to all humankind is correct theological knowledge. Because He is truly wise and utterly holy and so are His laws and covenants. Yet our colleagues call us “soft on idolatry” for saying this. They insist that the 7M's universal precept against “avodah zarah,” “strange service” or “strange worship,” bans “all idolatry,” or any worship of gods or God but HaShem. (They quibble over the possibility that a gentile who merely associates some other being with HaShem, as His son or partner or the like, might be permitted to do so.) 

    What they're saying, basically, is that the nations, as a very basic minimal requisite of civilization, 1) need to learn God's Name from Israel; and 2) any failure on their part to do so, whether they believe in many gods or another god by another name, or in no god, or gods, is morally reprehensible and invites imminent severe punishment.  

      Notice, by the way, how this weird conception of the 7M makes criminals, felons, out of nearly the entirety of humankind, past and present, living and dead?

We agree with our colleagues on point number one, above, that the nations really ought to learn God's Name from Israel - but not to avoid punishment; only to gain the benefits and blessings of knowing God!

    The ancient Inca and Mayans who, most likely, never heard of Egypt, Moses, the Exodus or Israel, were far from God's Name, but God doesn't punish for mere innocent ignorance! When the Inca, etc., weren't innocent, though; when they tortured and slaughtered people for “avodah zorah,” or “strange worship,” they incurred egregious guilt. Any idiot, whether Inca or not, should know better than to try to glorify the Divine through cruelty.

      Parenthetically, regarding any failing by the nations to perceive God accurately (per Psalms 19, say, “the Heavens declare the glory of God”) or earn rewards by “blessing Israel” (God blesses those who bless Israel as a basic principle of spiritual physics), all we're saying is that these aren't 7M violations! Certainly the nations could and should have done better. But there's a difference between committing heinous crimes - 7M violations  - and being merely spiritually obtuse.

As for point number two, “Pending the universal redemption foretold in the Bible,” as the last Covenant Connection noted, “the Name and nature of HaShem aren't well known to most of the human race.”

The true Name and nature of God are not obvious! How could they be? He can't be seen or smelled, tasted, heard or touched! He is, said Isaiah, “a God Who hides”! (45:15). So our erring colleagues who argue that HaShem through His 7M requires non-Jews, who hardly know Him, to worship Him and Him alone is also arguing, even if they don't realize it, that HaShem is unjust and so are His 7M. God forbid! 

Maimonides and the 7M

We have to consider the truth advanced by Maimonides, Rambam, that, to win exceptional spiritual reward, a Noahide has to accept the 7M because they come from God through Moses (Hilchot Melachim 8:11).

Of course!

The Noahide who knows God's Name, who worships the One true God (and accepts at least the general drift of Hebrew Scripture and the Torah's worldview); or who, at least, recognizes HaShem's reality; who has penetrated so much worldly darkness to arrive, we presume, at some level of love and fear of HaShem… yes, that person should indeed expect blessing!

This truth is frequently neglected. True knowledge of God, the ultimate reality of the universe, is fantastically empowering. To recognize HaShem's existence and realize that He has, in fact, no conceivable form; that He is nonetheless present, now and always, here and everywhere; that He is infinitely intelligent and powerful, absolutely all-knowing; absolutely good and holy; the God of Israel and the Hebrew prophets and of non-Jews, too…

Anyone who comes to this extremely sophisticated, largely abstract conception, who shakes free of the crippling errors of the nations to “plug in” to the Divine Light of Creation; who adopts this supremely powerful spiritual physics, who thinks and lives in accord with how things really are - that is a Divinely advantaged person.  

    Knowing God by His Name, HaShem, and believing in Him as Orthodox Israel believes, means constant exposure to the most fundamental principles of true higher consciousness. Maimonides asserts that those who think this way merit special blessing.


Building a Campus

We are building a small campus of bricks and mortar, a study center, for teaching the First Covenant. 

How should non-Jews relate to HaShem, the God of Israel, when they truly, humbly, seek knowledge of His Name? This question has never been answered satisfactorily before but we will give it all we can. 

We will write more, God-willing, about “Noah's House.” 

Our headquarter's address has changed, incidentally: First Covenant Foundation (Noah's House), 2400 Woodstock, Detroit MI 48203   

By Michael Dallen



We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen

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