The Great Recession
• The Great Recession
• Becoming Like Abraham
• Election issues:
Israel and the 21-State Solution; "a viable
Jimmy Carter Redux
Mumbai, Hamas, and the Protocols of Zion.
Reviews: Divine Code
• Netherlands' Noahides
Every man-made catastrophe has at its root some breach of the Noahide Law. Take this Great Recession, the global economic crisis.
TIP: For easier reading and more enjoyment, we suggest printing out each Covenant Connection as hardcopy.
The spectacular recent meltdown in world credit markets, forcing huge companies and even countries into bankruptcy, came about very simply. Behind all the crazy "no income verification necessary" mortgages and the "good as gold" mortgage-backed bonds of the last few years, which immediately caused the disaster, lay a crazy "post-Torah" concept.
Officials in and out of government began subscribing to the bizarre idea that the world's financial system is, essentially, self-regulating. Free-markets were supposed to be so wonderful that government, with its heavy hand, could only hurt them. Bankers and other lenders didn't need much at all in the way of regulations ("laws") or regulators ("police"). They are constrained - supposedly - by their own long-term self-interest to do well. They don't need any "prudential" regulations. They don't need no cops.
Never mind the ancient Noahide principle of "din," or law. According to the new theory, what Rainbow Covenant calls God's Law against Anarchy - the universal social obligation to establish a dynamic system of laws, police and courts, to prevent anarchy, or the oppression of the weak by the strong - doesn't really apply in that context.
Anyway, that was the theory. Now the whole system has blown up in our faces. Which returns us to the fundamental holy principle that every human institution BAR NONE requires regulations, cops (or the equivalent), and courts. That means government. The world-historical economic mess that now engulfs us unfortunately exemplifies the ancient Teaching (Mishnah, Pirke Avot 3:2), downbeat as it is: Pray for the welfare of government, because without fear of government, people would swallow each other alive.
About this issue
Sorry for the delay in getting this issue to you. Also, we apologize to everyone who subscribed to Covenant Connection, and everyone who tried to unsubscribe, in the two and a half-month period following the last issue. Due to computer problems, we lost those records. So if you're getting this issue and don't want it, or aren't getting it after you thought you'd subscribed (yes, we know that this message might not get through), please let us know and we'll take care of it.
We have new articles and links on the website, and started a modest Chinese-language service. We're trying to do a lot more with video, too - please keep checking the website.
We have an important book review in this issue: Christean R. Silver on The Divine Code, a big new book about the Noahide system, as well as a link to a new article, Must Reading, referring to five books which we strongly recommend. But that's not all. . . .
Becoming Like Abraham
Since this is a God-centered movement, as one member says, "how about a lesson on how study leads to God?" O.K. Briefly, God's Way - Torah - should be "internalized," by studying God's Law, or way, and also by "externalizing" it: taking what we've studied and then doing it. We make Torah principles operational by putting them into action. Of course it counts as study to take an Abraham and his disciples for one's model. People who have internalized Torah principles as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph did inspire and teach others to become like Abraham: by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking modestly and respectfully before God.
America's great election of 2008 has ended peacefully, thank God. We wish the new president and his administration great success in all their worthy ventures. We wish the same to whoever becomes the new prime minister of Israel. Now, we are not a political organization, but anyone who lives connected to Torah knows that it has real political ramifications. And, just as the ancient Hebrew prophets intensely involved themselves in the "current affairs" of their times, the Noahide justice commandment, or government commandment, requires every righteous man [man, not woman; women have the Divine right to opt out if they wish] to take an interest in things political. So the wise student should try to master the leading issues of the day.
Abortion: Americans keep learning more about what abortion actually involves. They see films like Silent Scream and photographs of human-looking fetuses. Sometimes they even study what the Torah has to say about it. So the "Pro-Life" movement isn't about to disappear.
The "Pro-Choice" movement clings to the abortion-legalizing Supreme Court decisions from the '70's, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. So long as those cases are law in America, no serious legal restrictions on abortion are possible. [Take, for example, the French law, permitting abortion until 70 days after conception, and then restricting it to emergencies. Thanks to Roe, no such arrangement is allowed in even one of America's 50 states.] But this is unreasonable. So we're sure that, even though Roe remains the law of the land at present, its reign won't last forever.
We believe that America's 50 states will eventually enact God's Law, to wit: so long as the growing embryo has no functioning nervous system, or heart, or even the semblance of such normal human accessories as fingers, eyes or toes, a mother or prospective mother acting with her doctor should be able to terminate it. After that, more than 40 days after conception, abortions should be restricted only to emergencies. While some will call that "anti-life" and others will call it "anti-choice," that is, we believe, the law of life and freedom both.
Homosexual "marriage": while fewer and fewer couples bother getting married at all, most American "progressives," so-called, call on government to give its blessing to "gay marriage." George Clooney, the celebrity actor, speaks for millions when he says: "At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won't be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black." With all respect to Clooney, this is utter hooey, balderdash and drivel. Working with James Hood, a citizen, to claim rights equal to any other citizen's, affirms God's Law, that He made every person, black and white, in His Image; that everyone, regardless of race, should be equal under the law. But gay marriage as a civil right, trying to get the government to put its blessing on something that God declares to be perverse, to legitimate it and sanctify it before God and man by calling it marriage, a holy estate: that doesn't just deny God's Law; it turns it upside down.
Even the notorious degenerates of ancient Greece and Egypt never went this far: even they stopped short of making marriage contracts between men. In fact, this was one of the few things that redeemed their societies, that allowed them to keep breathing God's air: 1) they didn't draw up marriage contracts between men; 2) they didn't measure out human flesh as meat in their markets (that is, even if they did occasionally eat their neighbors' flesh, at least they had the good manners not to treat it as a trade item); and 3) they had respect for the Torah (Talmud, Hullin 92b). Principles number one and three are related, though: crusaders for gay marriage often mock the Torah. They like to make it seem ridiculous, claiming, for example, that it requires the wholesale execution of all pork -eaters, to belittle the Divine laws that they dislike.
So, hoping to forestall God's destruction of our society for breaking these principles, we reject the argument that God makes "gay rights" morally equivalent to black Americans' struggle for civil rights. As for "gay marriage" being historically inevitable, we think not. Being on the side of God and Torah when it comes to moral issues isn't everything but it's a lot. Sooner or later, it's the side that always wins.
Israel: We hope the new American administration doesn't try to force "peace" on Israel. Because there is no peace nor the remotest chance of any real peace in the offing, so long as the rest of the Arab world insists on keeping their brothers, the so-called Palestinians, bottled up against Israel like bugs. The "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" - really, the conflict is between Israel and the whole Arab world, and a Torah-denying worldview - is insoluble so long as the only solution, the ordinary, natural, and traditional solution to every problem of this kind, where one group of people stays on and the other group, their enemies, moves on, is completely off the table. [Unless it's Jews - "settlers" - forced to move for the sake of "Arab refugees."]
The 21-State solution. If the half a billion or so Arabs who want Israel destroyed really care about their brothers, the bottled-up "Palestinians," let them open their borders to them. Let them, their fellow Arabs, pursue happiness in the vast emptiness of even one of the 21 countries (including the 80% of "Palestine," the part that's called Jordan) that currently exclude them, the countries that constitute "the One Arab Nation." That land has potential. It includes the old Fertile Crescent: like Jewish Israel, it could be made verdant again. If, with just a small part of all that land, they did just a fraction of what the Jews did with the abandoned howling waste, "the cursed land," that used to be Israel, they'd be rich.
Regarding the popularly prevailing "peace plan," the so-called "two-state solution," even Muammar Qaddafi, the blood-drenched dictator of Libya, openly declares that it spells doom for Israel (The New York Times, January 22, 2009). Returning Israel to what used to be called "the Auschwitz borders" of 1949 would leave it just 10 miles wide, and that, he says, won't do. While Qaddafi's own proposal isn't acceptable ("Isratine," he calls it, from the Jordan River to the Sea, a majority-Arab country) at least he's honest enough to admit that the two-state "solution" is folly.
A viable Muslim state. That's the other half of the "two-state solution," "a viable Palestinian state": the economic prospects of the new "Palestine." But - is Egypt a viable state? Its people have a much lower living standard than the "suffering Palestinians" in Gaza (who receive more international aid per person than any people ever have, including huge amounts of free food.) Is Jordan a viable state? Without massive foreign aid, it would collapse - and, incidentally, the "suffering Palestinians" of the "West Bank" have a much higher living standard than do most Jordanians. What Arab state is there, anywhere on Earth, that is "viable" - that earns more than it takes in, not counting oil wealth or the interest derived from oil wealth? Not Syria. Not Iraq. In fact, excepting only Turkey (which made a revolution against Islam), what Muslim state is there anywhere on Earth that is viable - that earns more than it takes in from something other than permanently depleting its natural resources of oil, minerals, sea-food, or rapidly-disappearing forests? Would Bangladesh be a good model for a viable Muslim state?
Jimmy Carter Redux: Naturally, former president Jimmy Carter has a plan for peace. It's expressed in a new book, "We Can Bring Peace to the Holy Land." Naturally, it's the the "two-state solution." Carter closes the door to the only real solution by damning it as "ethnic cleansing" - Hutu against Tutsi, Serbs against Albanians, the Nazis in the Ukraine.
Carter, the old Democrat - "God's gift to the Republican Party" - is a smart, Bible-reading man, a deacon in his church, where he teaches Sunday school. He knows, intimately, everything that the black-letter Torah, the Bible, says about Israel: that (for instance) God unconditionally forbids the Jews from trying to divide the Land of Israel with anyone (Exodus 23:33), or make any kind of covenant or treaty with anyone like that (Deuteronomy 7:2); that if the Jews fail to remove such folk, He will send "a non-nation" against them, "a vile nation that is no nation" (Deuteronomy 32:21), who will be "like thorns in the Jews' eyes and metal pins in their sides - who will make themselves as difficult and damaging to Israel's successful tenure in the land as possible (Numbers 33:55-6); who will eventually join in a great international conspiracy not just to "cut them [the Jews] off from being a nation," but to erase the very name and even the memory of Israel! (Psalm 83:5).
We occasionally encounter Carters. They love the Bible but reject the Jews as the people of the Bible. Whether or not they regard the Church as the Jewish people's successor, as a New Israel, they regard the Jews as failures, a terrible disappointment as a people of priests or light to the nations. As several Carters tell us, the Jews' [Israel's] role in the world is to teach and exemplify Torah principles. To them, every Jerry Seinfeld, Springer or Lewis, every Jon Stewart and Barbara Walters, every Henry Kissinger, or Jonas Saulk, or Bob Dylan, or Groucho Marx, or Karl Marx, or Freud, is a failure, living proof of Israel's terrible rejection of God and Torah. If a Jew isn't teaching Torah - narrowly defined, naturally, since these critics, and others, like Jimmy Carter, have no gift for recognizing Torah principles when people make them operational in things like work and family - it means that he or she rejects Torah. It means that, so far from being "a light to the nations," he or she is just a messenger of godlessness and faithlessness.
Obviously, these folks - people like Carter - don't understand the System. Some Jews fail here too: Prof. Albert Einstein came up in conversation with one of our teachers, who, even though he's a brilliant man, shook his head and sighed, saying that Einstein could have been quite a Torah scholar - "it's a pity that he wasted his talent on physics." Carter, almost like our teacher, would consider Einstein to be a failed Jew, and - certainly - morally and spiritually inferior to Carter himself.
Mumbai, Hamas, and
the Protocols of Zion
The terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. To Hezbollah (in Lebanon), Hamas (in Gaza), and Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria; to the 9/11 highjackers and their admirers, the "crazy president" of Iran, and the terrorists behind the New Year attack on India's Mumbai, "World Jewry," Freemasons, "international capitalism," the United States and most of western Europe all belong to a gargantuan evil conspiracy. It is dominated by Jews, they believe, to degrade, enslave, subvert and rob the good people of the world. This is the gist of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a late 19th Century Russian Czarist forgery, purporting to be the record of an international conference of Jewish leaders as they met to discuss their plans for world domination.
Oddly, few of us in the West pay much attention to the Protocols. (How can we fight a war of ideas without knowing what moves our enemies?) But the Nazis, in Germany in the 1930's and later, and racist groups like America's White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the Aryan Nations, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and others, almost all believed in the Protocols and, even today, maintain pretty much the same belief.
Take the recent terrorist atrocity in India. The Muslim terrorists from Pakistan who attacked Mumbai had probably never met a Jew in their lives. But they went 'way out of their way to attack Mumbai's tiny Jewish center. They didn't just shoot but tortured the young couple who founded it, a rabbi and his wife, together with a Jewish visitor, who were the only ones among all their victims - the only ones known to be Jews - that they didn't just kill but deliberately (and savagely) tortured.
Their hatred for Jews, we presume, began with their teachers. They learned what the Protocols teach, that "the Jews" are a cosmological evil; that Jews are the main enemy of everything that's good. "We wanted to send a message to the Jews," the one surviving terrorist, Mohammed Ajmal, told his captors. The terrorists' organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, is proud of its pamphlet, Why are We Waging Jihad? It "proves" that Israel is an "existential enemy of Islam."
That was the Nazis' way, too. And that's the way it is now in most of the Muslim world. But it isn't Islam that's the cause of this hatred, any more than German patriotism, or Russian Eastern Orthodoxy, made the Nazis, and before them the Czar's men, so vicious. Islam, German patriotism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and whatever religions and philosophies that Klansmen profess: they're just vehicles that carry the poison of the Protocols.
Despite the Protocols' stupidity - they are incredibly stupid: "the Jews" arranged for the building of the world's subway systems so they could blow up the cities above them; the Jews promote democracy against despotism, despotism being the "only protector of the goyim [sic]"; Jews promote freedom of religion to "complete the wrecking" of the Christian religion; Jews will befuddle the world's goyim with progress, which obscures "the truth" from all but the Jews; Jews subvert the world's workers with anarchy and drunkeness in order to destroy all the educated goyim [sic]"; Jews will confuse people by giving expression to so many contradictory opinions that the goyim [sic] will lose their heads and come to believe that the best thing is to have no opinion of any kind in matters political; America's armed forces are all "the slaves of the Jews," "those who obey the Jews," etc., etc. - even many smart people choose to believe them.
Such folk often say that, even if the Protocols are forged, even if they're largely clearly ridiculous, they reflect "a higher truth." And here we get back to our great subject, the Noahide Law. Because the "higher truth" of the Protocols is, supposedly, that the Torah requires Israel, through its "learned elders," to dominate the "goyim," to dictate the details of their laws for them and impose ferociously harsh, rigid provisions of Torah - Divine laws, beyond any human melioration, requiring the execution of every teenage shoplifter, the stoning of every adulterer, and the death of every Sabbath-violator, pork-eater, and follower of "gentle Jesus."
Since this is so false and twisted, it would be good for everyone to know it. Some people - "elders" among the Jews - have interpreted the Torah and the Noahide Law almost in this fashion, but they were and are dead wrong. The Noahide Law is nothing like that. Not only is it a miracle of justice, gentleness and flexibility - which it must be, for people to gladly submit to it, and which must be suitable for all human beings at all times, in all ages, everywhere! - but the details of the Law are for each nation to determine for itself. So, in matters such as punishment, for instance, including questions of when, whether, and how much to punish, every nation has the privilege and obligation to legislate its own laws. Only the substance of the Law - the prohibitions on murder, theft and incest, for instance, forbidding what ought to be obviously wrongful things by outlawing them - are universal.
So long as we in the West don't directly address these two issues - the belief by hundreds of millions of otherwise fairly sane human beings that the People of Israel are evil, that the world is such a weird and illogical place that the idiocy of the Protocols could ever actually be true; and the belief that the Torah is, at heart, so extremely unattractive that the only way that humankind will ever follow the Universal Way of God laid out therein is either through force majeure (overwhelming force) or dramatic miracles (to prepare people to accept upon themselves the harsh and inflexible dictates of a bunch of mysterious bearded strangers, ruling from Jerusalem) - our enemies, the forces of jihad, will just keep getting stronger.
Reviews, The Divine Code
We heard of a new book on our subject and asked Mrs. Christean Silver, an old friend of the foundation, to review it. We went to some trouble to avoid influencing her review, one way or the other, although we did try to answer several questions that she addressed to us:
New Book, The Divine Code
An English translation of THE DIVINE CODE (Volume 1) was published in February 2008 in paperback. It is presented by United Noahide Academies, a project of Ask Noah International, the publisher. Ask Noah is affiliated with the Chabad Lubavitcher Chasidic branch of Judaism. It was written in Hebrew by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem and completed in 2007.
The book has a lovely soft cover with a rainbow on an ocean horizon. It is 367 pages long, plus bibliography, index, etc., and covers the fundamentals of the faith and three of the seven laws: the prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, and eating meat taken from a living animal. It may be purchased for a donation of $18.00, plus shipping, at judaism.com, or by calling 1-800-JUDAISM. Volume 2 is now being finalized.
Rabbi Weiner describes the purpose of his book on pages 29-30: "... to explain [the] seven commandments according to Torah principles and Torah Law, including both their general rules and their details, and also the moral obligations that are intellectually incumbent. All of this is in order to teach faithful Gentiles the way of God and the path in which it is proper for them to go, until they will merit through this the distinctions and the spiritual beauty of 'the pious of the nations of the world'." The first section, "Fundamentals of the Faith" is 90 pages long and gives interesting, basic information, with many details. It includes helpful guidelines for Noahide blessings and prayers - my favorite part of the book.
The book ends with this statement from the editor: "In general ... rational concern for the environment is consistent with one of the main accomplishments that God desires of mankind: "yishuv olam" - the efforts of each individual and group to contribute to the making of a "settled world" for the people of all nations, with societies that function properly and morally in God's eyes, harmoniously with each other, and responsibly with the natural world and its bountiful resources. May it be God's will that this text will help to bring this to fruition."
The Divine Code is certainly well-intentioned and is well-written from a technical standpoint. It is sincere, earnest, and painstakingly researched. However, it presents an overly complex system of Noahide observance. It gives numerous Talmudic references and detailed Rabbinic arguments, page after page, ad infinitum. From a Gentile's point of view, this can be confusing and disconcerting. A new seeker might think, This sounds like the arguing of Peter and Paul in the religion I just left.
Talmudic arguments can be worthwhile. As a Gentile, I should not presume to judge them. The sincere effort that the Rabbis put into these disputations over the ages deserves nothing but respect. Their attention to detail demonstrates an urgent desire that Torah will in no way be misinterpreted. The efforts of Rabbi Weiner and others involved in The Divine Code are to be commended. Still, giving so much minutia and unending Rabbinic disagreements and rulings to Noahides, and prospective Noahides, could lead a seeker to misinterpret Torah and disrespect the Oral Tradition. One might ask, Why not just go back to my other religion? For instance, do we really need to be told that it is forbidden to defecate as a form of worship before Pe'or [an idol]? Or that, while we must minimize animal suffering, that it is permissible to boil an animal alive under certain circumstances: for example, if boiling would make the meat taste better!
It's hard to believe the writer meant this book for Gentiles.
In The Divine Code we are also told that the growing world population is large enough to contain the reincarnated souls of all deserving Gentiles who died before learning of the Seven Laws - and who thus may not have received a portion in the World to Come. The doctrine of reincarnation may be true, but more difficult is the idea that innocent people might be condemned because they had not heard of the Seven Laws! This is a teaching that reminds me of the difficult Christian "everyone else goes to hell" dogma that some churches still teach.
I have great respect for Chasidism, but the book presents a system so complicated that most readers would not understand its detailed rules. It is confusing and definitely not meant for Joe Sixpack. The basic Seven Laws are obvious - obviousness is one of their defining characteristics; they forbid things that we all should know are wrong - and can naturally be observed by Gentiles. Had this been the first book I read on Noahism, I might have turned away. Fortunately there are other, better books out there, mainly Aime Palliere's heartfelt and reasonable book, The Unknown Sanctuary, and the excellent book, The Rainbow Covenant.
In Rainbow Covenant, we are told, among many other sane teachings, that disputes between the sages simply mean that Noahides must determine the issues for themselves. If the sages aren't sure something is a Noahide Law, the answer is, it is NOT. Rainbow Covenant also cites the classic Torah authorities and has the same ancient, holy antecedents as The Divine Code. However, it is logical in a way that the other, very traditional school of thought is not. Rainbow Covenant fits into a natural, rational, from-the-heart way of looking at the world and God. People must focus on living life God's way, and accept responsibility for determining that way for themselves. When I put aside The Divine Code and returned to The Rainbow Covenant, I felt I was going from darkness to light.
Christean Silver, Ojai, California
Editor's note: In fact, as we said above, we believe that the unsatisfactory "traditional" approach to Noahide matters, which seems to be exemplified in this book, helps sustain the central premise of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, that the rabbis of Israel want to boss around non-Jews - that they want to dictate to other peoples in the holy Name of God. While this may be true of some rabbis, who labor under the handicap of having the doctrine wrong, the greater truth is that all the Torah asks for, and all that most Jews want, is for the nations of the world to treat the Jews no more respectfully and decently than they ought to treat anyone.
Michael Katz writes:
Rabbi Michael Katz has read the original Hebrew edition of The Divine Code. After reading Mrs. Silver's review, he had his own observations:
The Divine Code - the Hebrew-language original - provides scholars who teach and advise Noahides much-needed sources and rulings for obscure laws. One need not necessarily agree with the author's conclusions but he has done the research to enable other scholars to determine their own opinions.
The English edition has added a large amount of editorial material by, for example, Rabbi Immanuel Shochet. It might be more accurate to look at the English edition as an entirely new work, rather than a translation of the book by Rabbi Weiner.
Speaking of the Hebrew edition: I understand that the average Noahide might feel overwhelmed by the details of the laws and, for this reason, The Divine Code might be a better book for the rabbi or leader of each group to use to prepare their lessons, rather than one that would be helpful to individual Noahides. In the language of the yeshiva, I could say that we were looking for a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch [the popularly accepted abridged version of the Code of Jewish Law] for the Noahide Laws but we got a Mishna Berura [six-volume commentary on just the first part of the Shulchan Aruch, the four-part Code of Jewish Law], instead.
It does, therefore, occur to me that the book might have been better left in its original Hebrew, identifying it as an excellent (and I must emphasize that it is, indeed, an excellent work) resource for those with sufficient knowledge and background to study it in Hebrew. Making it readily available to the average lay Noahide could create more confusion than clarity. As it is, it remains for the reader to decide if the book suits his purpose or not. But as long as a Noahide is being advised by his own rabbi, he can combine the teachings of this book with the more personal advice of his mentor and be set on the right path.
Must reading: on the website, under Articles, we have a new article, called Must Reading. It's about five books which we believe everybody ought to have and read: http://1stcovenant.com/pages/MustReading.htm. (It does not include The Divine Code - at least, not yet. It does include the book by James D. Tabor that we briefly mentioned in the last Covenant Connection, Restoring Abrahamic Faith.)
Netherlands' Noahides, letters
[New letters (February 14-15th, 2009) from Holland:]
[To Michael Dallen]. . . [J]ust to give you an update on how we're doing in the Netherlands.
In the fall of 2008 we started a study group for Noahides. Although we're small in number, people are very interested and come from every corner of the country, driving for hours to attend the meetings. Because we haven't found many scholars in Holland who want to teach Noahides, we get our information mainly from these books:
The Rainbow Covenant, Michael E. Dallen
The Divine Code, Rabbi Moshe Weiner
The Image of the non-Jew in Judaism, David Novak
Natural Law in Judaism, David Novak
Israel and Humanity, Elijah Benamozegh
The Seven Laws of Noah, Aaron Lichtenstein
En G-d sprak tot Noach en zijn zonen, Willem Zuidema/Jos op 't Root
The Path of the Righteous Gentile, Chaim Clorfene/Yakov Rogalsky
Every month I study every chapter in every book dealing with one of the seven commandments. And I must say, your book has been proven to be the most helpful. Not only because it really tries to cover every aspect of the Noahide commandment at hand, but also because of all the helpful footnotes which allow me to study a bit more on the subject.
We do have the help of a Jewish friend who also provides us with information and just recently introduced me to Rabbi Raphael Evers, one of the greatest authorities in the Netherlands on Jewish Law and a member of the European beth din [Torah court]. See his wiki-entry on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Evers.
The good news is that this rabbi has become much more interested in Noahism. He has a lot of contact with non-Jews, appears in talk shows and is the official spokesman for the orthodox Jews in Holland. Of course we're hoping that he can teach us in the future. He hasn't said no ;).
I won't take any more of your time now. Again, thanks for your book! So far, we've covered ever min hachai [law of the torn limb], gezel [robbery], shefichut damim [murder], gilui arayot [sexual immorality] and dinim [laws against anarchy] (summaries are published on http://noachieten.nl/forum/viewforum.php?f=8 in Dutch).
With kind regards,
Sefanja Severin, the Netherlands
[Michael writes back, in part:]
. . . [T]o my mind, the best teachers for Noahides are usually other, knowledgeble, Noahides; along with them, usually after them, Orthodox Jews of a worldly bent, folks who have been around. A rabbi who may or may not have ever had a close Noahide/Gentile friend, who's spent most of his life with people of a yeshivish bent, and who knows mostly other Orthodox Jews, AND who, in most cases, has only the foggiest notion of what the Noahide laws really involve - they tend not to be the greatest teachers.
[Sefanja, in part:]
I agree with you. Therefore we're not looking for a rabbi as our only source, but it would sure help figuring out some difficult passages in Rashi or the Talmud. And it would be nice to have a rabbi speak now and then about - for example - medical ethics (which Jews and non-Jews share almost 100%).
Rabbi Evers has already helped me understand the discussion between Rambam [Maimonides] and Ramban [Nachmanides] concerning Shechem a little better [See Genesis 34, involving the rape of Dinah, the failure of Shechem's men to prosecute the rapist, and Jacob's sons, Shimon and Levi. See Rainbow Covenant pp. 211-212, 221].
In just two hours our next meeting will begin. I will be discussing dinim while my Jewish friend will cover the philosophy behind prayer, including some possible guidelines for Noahides.
Good luck with the newsletter!
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