Whether as a full-fledged religion, philosophy, moral code, ethical code, essential Divine instruction, eternal moral touchstones, complete body of Law, way of life or path to greatness and life eternal, the Seven Commandments apply to all humanity at all times.
Please remember, the trick with the Seven isn’t just avoiding the felonious, horrible conduct that they forbid, but affirmatively – positively - doing what is righteous, moral and correct: that is, doing the opposite of what the Noahide Commandments forbid.
Here are the Seven Noahide Commandments - seven headings or "families" of "thou shalt not" prohibitions - with their legal and moral opposites:
- "Murder" Not just avoiding murder (the deliberate and unjustified killing of human being) but affirmatively saving and protecting human life.
- "Theft" Not just avoiding stealing; giving charitably, wisely.
- "Anarchy" Not just preventing harsh oppression and injustice; establishing, maintaining and constantly improving institutions of government and striving for freedom and fairness, democracy and justice.
- "Incest" Not just avoiding sexual immorality; creating an exemplary personal and family life, and helping others do the same.
- "Torn limb" Not just refraining from inflicting unnecessary pain on animals - as though animals can't feel pain, as if life and the world aren't real - but ensuring their decent treatment, and eating, when one eats, in a manner befitting a being "made in the image of God."
- "Blasphemy" Not just avoiding sacrilege but positively, publically, honoring and sanctifying the One and Only God.
"Strange worship" Not just avoiding repulsive idolatry (in Hebrew, gilulim, "abominable idolatry") and oppressive, cruel, disgusting acts that would shame any "god" worth worshipping, but - by always striving to become more conscious and nearer to Him, morally and spiritually - consciously honoring His Holy Name, positively vindicating the holiness of the One and Only God.
To give a more complete picture we need to make two more points:
1) Concerning the Commandment against Anarchy (characterized positively in the Talmud as dinim, “laws”), people suffer all kinds of governments. Still, democratic self-rule strikes us as being the sole governmental system based on the infinite sacredness of each and every person – the only earthly creature capable of understanding and seeking justice, freedom and truth. Even when government isn't democratic, we should still aspire to democracy.
2) The world has at least 500 times more good in it than evil – God may punish up to four generations but His loving kindness extends 2,000 generations, at a minimum (See Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 7:9). The world offers many ways to earn eternal blessing.
Simply refraining from committing the awful crimes forbidden by the Seven Commandments won’t do it, as we said. But going beyond that with positive beliefs and actions – merely accepting the Seven as a genuine gift from God, for instance, suffices, according to Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim/“Laws of Kings” 8:10).
Are there other ways of winning blessing - in a world suffused with God’s loving-kindness? Clearly! Who could deny it? Israel’s ancient daily prayers, for instance, mention the eternal blessing flowing from, for instance, hospitality to guests, visiting the sick; providing for a bride; “acts of kindness” and escorting (honoring) the dead; etc., etc.
For some other examples, see Isaiah:
“To loose the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free… to deal your bread to the hungry, to clothe the naked… to call the Sabbath a delight….”
- Isaiah 58:6-13
Doing these things – acts which are, incidentally, the very opposite of what the Seven Commandments forbid – are all highways to blessing. It isn’t as though the Way of God is a torturous narrow tunnel!
Recognizing Israel's Capital
We appreciate President Trump’s recent clear declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel - after almost 70-years of modern nationhood!
The world’s extraordinary generally negative reaction to what is, after all, a plain fact, strikes us as further proof – as if that were necessary (See, for example, Exodus 19:6, Numbers 23:9, Isaiah 40-55, and, say, Amos 3:2) - that Israel is, indeed, unique among the nations.