A Gentile chap says to us, “I’m what you call a true Orthodox Noachide. I don’t do anything. That’s the Command of the Rabbis.”
People accept the craziest ideas... This fellow, so concerned that he might “invent a false religion,” commits himself to never observing any full rest days or holy days at all, never holding regular worship services, never keeping kosher, never studying Torah, never dipping into a mikvah, and never opening a Jewish prayerbook. He declares, proudly, secure in His chosen path, that he’d be damned if he did anything. This is His idea of what HaShem wants.
Against that point of view, we recently stumbled on the following.
The author, a rabbi now living in Israel in Tsfas, “City of Mystics,” co-wrote the old book that preceded our “Rainbow Covenant,” “The Path of the Righteous Gentile.” He also wrote, more recently, “The Way of the Ger [“Ger,”Hebrew: non-Jew].”
We liked this piece and excerpted it from material which we liked somewhat less, and posted it on Facebook:
“The fact is that according to halacha [Torah Law] a Gentile can remain a Gentile and take on any or all mitzvoth [Commandments] of the Torah including Shabbat and Talmud Torah [Study of Torah]. He does not have to convert. He can become a Noahide Ger, a non-Jew who accepts the Seven Laws of Noah and accepts Hashem, the G-d of Israel as his G-d and rejects shituf (idolatrous concepts involving sub-deities or multiple godheads).
The Noahide who takes on the Seven Laws and says to Hashem Yisborach [Blessed be He], “You are my G-d,” he can do any and all mitzvoth in the Torah without the Jubilee Year, without going to a rabbinic court for acceptance, without living in Israel, and he can do it even according to the Rambam [Maimonides]. That is the halacha.
Most Jews, even frum [Orthdox observant] ones, even rabbis, learn the Rambam superficially and get it wrong. If they would have looked at the rabbinic responsa on the subject, they would see that when the Rambam said there is no Ger Toshav without the Jubilee Year, he was referring to the complete Ger Toshav (Ger Toshav Gamur), one who is entitled to the same communal support as a Jew.
But with respect to the performance of mitzvoth, the halacha is that there is always a Ger Toshav, with or without the Jubilee Year [See Leviticus 25:8-13, as to the 50th year, the Jubilee year, when Israel “shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants”], with or without a rabbinic court, and with or without living in the Holy Land. But to be permitted to keep Shabbat or learn Torah, he has to do one thing that the Ger Toshav does not have to do; he has to believe in the unity of G-d and that Ado-nai Hu HaElo-him, the Lord [HaShem] He is G-d. He must accept upon himself faith in the G-d of Israel, not merely reject idolatry. And that is what makes the Noahide into a Noahide Ger – he says Shema Yisrael [“Hear, O Israel,” the great statement of faith beginning with Deuteronomy 6:4] and that is his faith in G-d.
Every Gentile can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses.
By Rabbi Chaim Clorfene
So, what we have here are folks, non-Jewish people, choosing the Path of God – the derech HaShem or Way of the Ivri, the Hebrews. (See our August 2016 Covenant Connection story, “My Religion Is….”, regarding the concept of Ivri). The “Noahide Ger,” as R’ Clorfene puts it, or “Noachide sojourner,” is a conscious servant of HaShem and follower of the Way of the Ivri. He or she is a “non-Jewish Hasid,” as he puts it, “a pious person in the eyes of God.”
We have one problem with this idea, as presented by this author. Any soul who’s not Jewish, that thinks God wants him or her to concentrate on Torah religious ritual when God distinctly calls on all humanity to focus, with all our hearts, on justice and charity and kindness and freedom and love… that person is no conscious servant of HaShem.
Naturally, anyone who, with sincere intentions, deliberately observes any precept of Torah deserves only praise; not punishment. But this is no invitation to take on ritualistic practices. God “has shown you, O man, what is good, and what HaShem requires of you: Only to do justice and love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8.
This means, incidentally – if you’re going to study Scripture, which you should (we and R’ Clorfene agree on this point!) - to do mishpat, justice – literally, lawfulness, rightness, the fair, square and decent thing. To love “goodness,” or chesed: loving-kindness, or the spirit of mercy translated into deeds. To walk “humbly,” or tzana (see Proverbs 11:2): modesty, chastity, personal dignity and purity. – From Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws, p. 311.
Why would the God Who says this about ritual observance of the deeply holy phenomenon of Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement], including the fasting aspect of the holiday, want non-Jews immersing themselves in Jewish ritual?
“Is not this the fast I have chosen? To loose the fetters of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free… Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor who are cast out to thy house? When thou seeest the naked, that thou cover him? And that thou hide not yourself from your own flesh.” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
Speaking personally, our own formal religious training convinced us early on, horribly, that the putative Deity upon which everything depended wasn’t worth worshipping; that He, if He existed, cared not at all about anything worthwhile but mostly worried desperately about our performance of empty rituals and prayers - where we didn’t even know what we were saying!
This is the kind of thing where people get God’s Name and Nature absolutely wrong. God forbid, it makes people hate Him or, in our case, disbelieve in Him. It took many years and a great deal of reading before we could see anything real or good about God.
Over-emphasizing ritual while under-emphasizing God’s greatness is no way to elevate the human soul. For non-Jews, concentrating on Jewish rituals that don’t pertain to anybody but Hebrew priests, for instance, or that pertain uniquely to Jewish men, say, doesn’t generate nor convey piety! Why would the King of the Universe want Noachides to go around aping ancient Jewish rituals that have nothing to do with His Universal Laws – “social laws,” as the Torah calls them (Talmud, Sanhedrin 56b); rational, non-ritualistic observances focused on feeding the hungry, freeing the oppressed, and doing justice and kindness?
Trying to turn Him into a Being obsessed with ritual does God no favors and is definitely NOT part of the Path of Ivri – of the Hasidei Umot HaOlam, the Pious of the Nations.
Rabbi Michael Katz, First Covenant director, asks that this remark be published in connection with this article. He “remains unconvinced that Clorfene is right and he cautions any Noahide to not go against the prevailing rabbinic opinion that there are aspects of Jewish life that may NOT be adopted by Noahides. Rabbi Clorefene's interpretation of the Rambam (Maimonides) is outside of accepted rabbinic opinion and has no practical application.”
From Sussia, Israel, Yisroel Feld also comments on the Clorfene piece, approvingly. “My feeling is that there is One God and 70 nations besides Israel....God uses Israel to reach His ultimate goal of being recognized as God by the entire world. When the redemption moves forward there will be universal knowledge of God. The nations of the world need to connect to Shabbat and Torah but certainly do NOT need such things as tefillin or a talmudic Shabbat...Jewish women are exempt from numerous mitzvot for certain reasons, so obviously they don't need them... So with the righteous peoples of the world: many mitzvot that the Jews need to do, they do not.”
To see Chaim Clorfene’s work, including the whole piece that we excerpted, click here:
By Michael Dallen
To the King, the living and enduring God,
exalted and uplifted, great and awesome,
Who humbles the haughty and lifts the lowly;
withdraws the captive, liberates the humble, and helps the poor....
– Hebrew Siddur (morning prayer, just before the Amida).
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