Having trouble reading this e-mail?
View this Mailing on the Web

First Covenant

Covenant Connection

Volume 3, Issue 4

July 2008... Tammuz  5768

Saints and Sinners


• Saints and Sinners

• Homosex

• God's Beautiful Way

• Abortion and the Obvious

• Higher Consciousness

• Green funerals

• New Articles, etc.

• Prayer


Lawyers who do criminal cases, whether prosecuting or defending, get to know an odd assortment of people. We work with those who have killed, armed and unarmed robbers, and - for instance - sex criminals; people who  committed incest, sodomy, and even bestiality. Besides the secular - state and federal - criminal laws, these are individuals who are definitely having trouble with the Universal Law.
One might expect their sinful histories to have visibly marked them somehow, like the picture of Dorian Gray. Sometimes that's true - the alcoholics and addicts tend to age badly - but most look fairly ordinary. Some of them seem quite nice. In fact, we have experienced many kindnesses at the hands of murderers, thieves and sex criminals.
One of oddities of the human condition is that a sinner can sometimes be an angel, and a human angel can sometimes be a sinner. A lot depends on circumstances. We recognize that God is just; that every violation of His Law has consequences; that sinners will somehow pay for their sins, ultimately, while good deeds bring reward. But we don't know what weight God puts on individual sins, or good deeds, and we can't know all there is to know about each other, our fellow humans.


One book about the Noahide Law - not Rainbow Covenant - speaks about the damage that homosexuals do to their souls. But we don't want to see the Noahide prohibition on male homosexual practices enforced primarily to benefit homosexuals. They have free will; they can attend to their own souls. Rather, we want it enforced for the sake of non-homosexuals, for women, and particularly for children. We want it enforced to keep civilization from failing; to keep it from becoming completely befouled with "lewdness," as the Torah puts it; to maintain and enhance the status of women in society; to help boys grow up unmolested and uninfected; to drive the perverse, "abominable" - a direct Torah quote - practices of male homosexuality underground, out of the public purview; to outlaw them, literally: to make them disapproved, not publicly accepted.
The point here is that we can cherish our male homosexual neighbors as the human beings they are without condemning them to death (!) or fretting that God will torch their souls. One who violates a Noahide law can, theoretically, be punished by death, but that is wholly a theoretical consideration - a teaching consideration. Speaking practically, our obligation is simple: to try to apply the laws basic to every decent society as justly and gently as possible - which means, in this case, that male homosexual practices be formally forbidden like littering, at least, socking men who are so indiscreet as to let themselves be discovered practicing them with a ticket and a fine. That's "outlawing homosexuality."

God's Beautiful Way  

Of course, this is not the way that some people, on the right and on the left, like to think about the Law. On the right, they speak of the Seven Law system as something that must be forced on people, as impossibly harsh rules that the world will adopt only when a supernatural event or God permanently somehow changes the human pineal gland, perhaps. On the left, people who would never think of reading Dante or Shakespeare without an interpretive commentary read the King James Bible and Leviticus 18  - one of the most sublime chapters of the Torah - absolutely literally, making the Law out to be insane cruelty.
Mischaracterized this way so often, the great goodness - the real holiness, and beauty - of the Law eludes most people. Every one of the Noahide laws is logical and should, indeed, be practically self-evident. Besides the laws against murder, theft, bestiality and incest, the prohibitions against idolatry - what the Hebrew liturgy calls "gilulim," or savage idolatry, like Moloch-worship or sending living bombs in Allah's name to blow up nurseries - and sacrilege (like claiming that God wants people to "honor" Him by incinerating children, or cannibalism, or the like) - ought to appeal to everyone on earth.

Another logical prohibition: male homosexual practices, which are obviously dangerous, damaging, disgusting, and literally dirty, in ways and to a degree that, e.g., lesbianism or female homosexuality simply aren't. Truly, in a world where right and left take such extreme positions on such major issues, as with abortion, the Law is always sweet reason.

Abortion and the Obvious  

With abortion, too, the Law is the rule of the obvious. Once the fetus has developed to the point that it is plainly, visibly, manlike - once its heart begins to beat, and it becomes male or female, and it has a brain and nervous system, and you can plainly see eyes and toes and fingers in the making, and it writhes in pain if you poke it, all of these remarkable developmental milestones popping up together at forty days after conception - it is forbidden to kill it, except to save the life and health of its mother. The absolute positions of the right - human life begins sometime around the parents' first date - and the left (the fetus can be killed whenever someone gets to it, no matter how developed it is or how acutely it feels pain) are simply ignorant.
Another problem with human perception and the Law is that practically every listing of the Seven Laws makes it sound like they're for cavemen. Starting with the most recent law - against eating a limb torn from a living animal - they come off looking like a primitive, incomplete or trial version of the Ten Commandments. That's because these lists don't convey any sense of the higher meaning of the laws.

Higher Consciousness 

As Rainbow Covenant has demonstrated, a righteous person should try to do the very opposite of what the Universal Law forbids. One of the higher messages of the "law of the torn limb," for instance, beyond the bare prohibition of gross cruelty, is that HaShem Himself has given us, mankind (ordinary human beings rather than super-beings), dominion over all earthly life. He has made us His planetary stewards. Naturally, He requires us to act accordingly, with respect for the life that He put under our control as well as respect for ourselves as His servants.
God's Universal Law against theft - don't steal - sounds banal. But it stands for the truth that every human being stands on a equal footing before the Lord, that the person who has the best claim and greatest right to a thing is the person who already owns it;  and that HaShem is the ultimate Owner of all Creation's riches, which He permits us to use and enjoy for His purposes.
Sex laws: human sexuality is a gift of God, which can make us more human and bring us closer to God, through the love between a husband and wife and the love of a couple for their children - children whom God wants us to bring into the world. Or, the power of the gift can be abused, if we fail to channel it appropriately. We ignore our own inherent seasons and limitations at our peril, because sexuality can also bring us lower than the animals.
Murder: all souls are God's. Every human being exists in the "image" of God and is a child of God; to murder - wrongfully kill - another human being is a crime like trying to kill God.
Laws against lawlessness, oppression and anarchy: as God's agents, His planetary stewards, human beings have no right to leave all judgment up to God; He requires men - it's interesting that His law carves out a distinct sphere of responsibility for the men, not the women, of society - to act in the world to make and enforce just laws and prevent the oppression of the weak by the strong. 

Against idolatry, and against sacrilege: true knowledge of God - true God-consciousness - is the main point of all God's laws.
So, besides the basic rules of decent human behavior - the world would be an earthly garden if people just abided by the minimal laws, the most basic laws, against stealing, murdering, anarchy, etc. - the Seven Universal Laws are spiritual and religious, leading to the highest levels of human consciousness.
Ultimately, the Seven Laws lead to Torah, in the broadest sense, including the God-obsessed statutes and customs of Israel - which apply Torah principles to every facet of daily life. This is where many Noahides go wrong, too: they think they can do without Israel; that God wants them to go off on their own and develop their own societies completely independent of Jews. They want to create special Noahide holidays, like Noah's birthday, separate from Israel's system of holidays. They want to learn sublime principles from great rabbis but they don't want to learn the details of living Jewishly from ordinary Jews.
That is not the System. The Torah isn't just the revealed Law of Sinai but also righteous customs, righteous enactments, manmade laws (based on Torah: enactments and decrees which make the Torah operational), and Torah ways of thinking.

  Green Funerals

A topical example: "Green funerals," a new fad, is changing the way that Americans treat their dead. Instead of cremating the dead - which wastes energy and pollutes the air - or embalming, which means filling the dead with formaldehyde (which will eventually pollute the earth and water table), and/or sealing the body in a non-rusting metal coffin, usually encased in reinforced concrete, which besides costing loads of money is also environmental lunacy, and a pretty disgusting way to treat the dead to boot - they now want to bury their dead more or less as Israel does. No metal, no special clothes, only a linen shroud, completely bio-degradable, wrapped around a clean body; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
That's a custom that anyone who wants to keep the Universal Law ought to want to keep (when the time comes) for oneself and for loved ones. Burial in the ground, the Torah says, helps bring atonement. But that - kosher burial - is just one item among myriads. The laws and customs of kashrut, or kosher eating, which we've examined in these pages before, have something to teach everyone too - especially in light of the true meaning of the Law of the Torn Limb (as well as the Seventh-day Sabbath). Similarly, daily blessings, endowing young girls with dowries, establishing charitable institutions, schools and houses of worship, as the Jews do, circumcision, careful business practices, and countless other things - righteous practices - that make the Jews Jewish, are all part of the one eternal holy System. See Deuteronomy 4:8:

"[W]hat nation is there so great, that has statutes [chukim, "irrational" laws] and judgments so righteous as all this Torah. . . "

by Michael Dallen

New Articles, etc.

Besides new radio interviews, we have some very good new articles up on the website. Our friend Ethan Dor-Shav's article on Job is superb - you will never look at the Book of Job the same way again. Two of our three First Covenant Foundation directors, Rabbi Michael Katz and Reverend Jack Saunders, spoke at the Noahide Nations conference in Florida last month; we've already posted a copy of Rabbi Katz's keynote address, his paper -Address to the Noahide Nations Conference, June 26, 2008  - on the website; we expect to have at least a video recording of Reverend Saunders's address up soon. You can go to our link to Noahide Nations - we have recently put up some new links to other websites, too - to see what else may be available.
We have the pleasure of introducing a new friend, Rabbi David Eidensohn, who has joined us and contributed a new article, Jew and Noahide. See it in Articles, as well as a little about the rabbi. We look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with Rabbi Eidensohn. We agree with everything he wrote in that article!

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.

Questions? Comments?

We want to hear from you:

info @ 1stcovenant. com

Visit our website: we're constantly adding new content: Multimedia

If you liked Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws
Please let people who might read about it online
benefit from your insight: write a few lines about it 
on Amazon.com (just a few sentences will help)


Covenant Connection Archives


Find the latest and best edition of each Covenant Connection on the web

To learn more about us, or to join the First Covenant Foundation 
Click here: Community

www.1stcovenant.com      www.1stcovenant.org      www.rainbowcovenant.org

Please feel free to copy and reprint Covenant Connection or any part of it, but please include this sentence with the copyright information: 
© 2013 The First Covenant Foundation

The First Covenant Foundation is a U.S. IRS 501(C)(3) non-profit