How is Rainbow Covenant received among "the experts," such as Jewish religious scholars?
Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws represents a big break with the stale, purportedly "traditional" thinking about the Seven Laws and the First Covenant that still claims to dominate the field.
From Rabbi Michael Katz, a director and co-founder of the First Covenant Foundation:
"Rainbow Covenant is more timely now than when it was written. As the world seems to be spinning out of control and the immorality of political leaders is in the spotlight, it points the way to a life honorably lived. The author wisely uses humor to temper the seriousness of his subject for the average reader, while even the scholar can benefit from the discussion and the copious notes and references."
As for the basis of our supposed "break from tradition," we follow the Yad Ramah, Rav Mayer Abulafia, zt'l (died 1244). According to the Yad Ramah, every nation must determine the details of its own laws - such as penalties, for instance - for itself.
Besides coinciding with logic, common sense, and the general drift of Torah, this understanding of the Noahide system can be traced from the Yad Ramah down through the centuries, to America's own Rabbi Yosef Soloveichik,zt'l, to the mainstream legal, historical and religious scholars of Harvard Law School, Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School, and Israel's Bar-Ilan School of Law, and (for instance) Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the great 21st century Talmudist.
So, despite some vocal, emotional opposition from the anti-Abulafians, the purported "traditionalists," it's not just common sense, logic and the general drift of Torah supporting Rainbow Covenant but a spectacularly genuine rishon - an "early commentator," from the era of Maimonides.
Many people contributed to Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws in its early stages.
Of the different rabbis (among others) who helped, Rabbi David Sears, a Breslover chasid and a prolific author himself, and Rabbi David Nerenberg, a Chabad Lubavitcher chasid and an old friend, stand out. But Rabbi Michael Katz, a mainstream Orthodox rabbi and a brilliant scholar who had become, before we met, one of America's leading authorities on Noahism, helped early and late, month after month, year after year, in the writing, editing, and research for the book.
Rainbow Covenant probably couldn't have come into being without his approbation and hard work. Rabbi Katz's careful editing of the final work and his approbation, in the Foreword (see below), were really just a continuation of the confirmation process that had begun several years before between us, with certain Noahides, and with other rabbis, and other legal and religious scholars.
Rabbi Michael Katz, from Rainbow Covenant's Foreword:
". . . The more deeply one delves into the Noachide Covenant, the more one learns of God's expectations for the nations. . .
It is the Noachide Laws that will bring the nations of the world to an understanding of Torah as it relates to the unfolding of the grand design that God has for all of us. . .
Michael Dallen's fine book will be of inestimable assistance in helping the searching ben (son) and bat (daughter) [of] No'ach find their path to true religion. He presents his material in a succinct manner that will appeal to the novice while still providing food for thought to the more advanced student, who will also enjoy examining the footnotes and doing his own further research. . .
I heartily welcome Michael Dallen's book. Mr. Dallen has embraced the historical importance of the emerging Noachide movement and, with wit and a keen eye for what is essential, he brings this ancient religion into modern times. The reader will feel himself a part of this exciting journey and will, we hope, be inspired to become an added light to the torch that will eventually illuminate the world."
We were happy when, almost out of the blue, we received the unexpected enthusiastic approbation of Rabbi Professor Nahum Rakover, professor of law at Israel's famed Bar-Ilan University Law School and Deputy Attorney General of the State of Israel - perhaps the world's foremost academic expert on Noahism.
We regard his haskamah - his rabbinic approbation; his endorsement - as our foremost haskamah.
Rabbi Professor Rakover, who wrote Law and the Noahides (1998), is a leader in the Abulafian - the "Harvard/Bar-Ilan" - school of Noahide studies, along with his Bar-Ilan Law colleague, Prof. Arnold N. Enker, and their associates (distinguished academics at Harvard Law School and at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law).
Professor Enker, particularly, has become one of our good friends and advisors, since the publication of Rainbow Covenant.
Prof. Enker introduced us to the authoritative classic work by Rav Mayer Abulafia (c. 1200 C.E.), the Yad Rama; along with later authorities, advocates of the same approach to the Noahide system, including the Sokochover (Rav Avraham Borenstein, zt'l), the Chelkas Yoav (Rav Yoav Weingarten, zt'l), and R' Aaron Soloveichik, zt'l ("may the memory of the righteous be a blessing.")
Abulafian scholars regard Noahism and the Seven Noahide laws as hyper-reasonable, naturally compelling general moral and legal principles that ensure decency, liberty and justice. The Noahide Law, in other words, provides a framework for justice, goodness and civilization, with penalties and all other details of the Law to be determined by every sovereign nation in accordance with its own customs, needs and history.
This paradigm of the Noahide system is starkly different from the anti-Abulafians'. They regard their model as the only "traditionalist, genuinely rabbinic" approach to the subject - but it isn't.
Their views on the subject have also been embraced by several anti-Semitic and conspiracy theorist groups. Why? Because it teaches that the Noahide system ("according to the Jews, God's system") requires each nation to submit to the authority of the leading Jewish rabbis, who will determine the details of the nations' laws based on inflexible - actually, impossibly harsh, unloving, unjust, intolerant and illogical, completely contrary to the general drift of Torah - ideas of what the Noahide Law requires.
The different views are, of course, discussed in much more detail in Rainbow Covenant - and also, to some extent, in Covenant Connection, and in several articles and FAQs on the First Covenant Foundation's website.
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz and Rabbi Yechiel Sitzman at Yeshivat D'var Yerushalyim also helped a great deal, particularly in the early, pre-publication stages. We went through many long, exhaustive pre-publication reviews together, page by page, sometimes word-by-word, with some very lively give-and-take.
Despite some philosophical disagreements between us - as anti-Abulafians (or "rabbinic traditionalists," as they would prefer), they weren't thrilled by Rainbow Covenant's insistence that Noahides need to determine the details of their own laws for themselves - but they gave it their approbation, too (see below).
Dr. James D. Tabor, distinguished University Professor of Religion and Chairman of the Department of Religion at the University of North Carolina (at Charlotte), an internationally known archaeologist, scholar, and best-selling author, first said upon reading it, and still says today, that "Rainbow Covenant is the only book on the Noahide Law that I can recommend." He wrote, as one of the first mainstream academics to review it: At long last we have a practical and learned treatment of this vital subject. . . It is truly and obviously a MOST wonderful work!
An Orthodox scholar and community leader who lives in the same part of Michigan as Mr Dallen, Rainbow Covenant's author, writes:
"The Rainbow Covenant is a very readable, painstakingly researched book exploring and illuminating G-d's universal laws of morality. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing what Jewish tradition considers every human's obligations to G-d and his fellow man." - Rabbi Eliezer Cohen, Congregation Ohr Chadash, Oak Park, Michigan
Rabbi Shmuel Cohen, a revered and pious scholar, former longtime principal at Metro Detroit's Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, didn't want to give a full haskama (a traditional rabbinic approbation), saying to the author:
"It's very well done! But . . . It's almost impossible to write a proper haskama for a book like this. A haskama is supposed to guarantee that the entire book, in all its particulars, including every single concept and almost every word, is absolutely true and trustworthy. But even you, probably, don't agree with everything that's in it: there's just too much there and we are always learning - and you are the one who wrote it!
"Most haskamos that are given in these cases are based mostly on the author's reputation for personal piety and kosher observance, and an Orthodox family life."
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, a distinguished scholar and kiruv (Torah outreach) professional, the director of Torah.org, the Judaism Site, writes this about Rainbow Covenant, "Highly recommended!" in his Everything Torah Book.
Rabbi Yitzchak Feldheim, President of Philipp Feldheim Inc., and Feldheim Publishers, says about Rainbow Covenant: "It's fascinating!" (But Rabbi Feldheim expressed reservations about the cartoon illustrations "in such a serious book.")
Arthur Kurzweil, prolific author, an internationally known speaker, editor - and a practicing magician! - and the coordinator of the Talmud Circle Project (with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz), America's leading Jewish genealogist (and the author of Torah for Dummies and Kabbalah for Dummies) wrote this about the book on Amazon.com:
". . . its gifted author has done a remarkable job of bringing together important primary source material on many profound and eternal ideas. . . he does so in such an inventive, creative way. . . this book will be as nourishing to the scholar as it will to the beginner. . ."
[In a personal note to the author, Mr. Kurzweil wrote:
I just read, from cover to cover, your book. It's superb! I am now asking my father, age 83, to read it.]
[Incidentally, Arthur Kurzweil's interview with musician/poet Leonard Cohen, in Articles, is very good - if you like his music. Obviously, we here think well of his music.]
One of the most remarkable things about Rainbow Covenant is that it, practically alone of all the books on Noahide Law topics, has been welcomed with actual enthusiasm by actual Noahides, longtime leaders in a developing Noahide movement.
Rev. Jack E. Saunders, a former Baptist pastor, helped found the First Covenant Foundation and has served as its co-director and vice-president from the beginning. His contributions to Rainbow Covenant were so substantial that we almost credited him as co-author. Jack E. Saunders says, " Please, buy it and read it!"
Vendyl Jones, another former Baptist pastor, an author and sometime archaeologist, who organized the First International Noahide Conference in Fort Worth, Texas in 1990 (see the video on our website, The Late Rabbi and the Noahides, with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane), says Rainbow Covenant is "Overflowing with wisdom and compassion. . . a great work, a modern classic."
Rev. J. David Davis, yet another former Baptist pastor, founder of the Noahide Study Centre of Athens, Tennessee, author of Finding the God of Noah: the Spiritual Journey of a Baptist Minister from Christianity to the Law of Noah, calls Rainbow Covenant "Absolutely essential reading. The best book available on the Hebrew concept of universal law and morality."
Kimberly E. Hanke, author of Turning to Torah: the Emerging Noachide Movement, writes: "The Rainbow Covenant is an outstanding achievement which fills a great void for all those involved in the Noahide movement. Whether novice or scholar, Jew or Gentile, this is what we have all been waiting for."
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz and Rabbi Yechiel Sitzman:
The Rainbow Covenant is a big, rich book. It is a very valuable and welcome popular introduction to the Noachide laws and the Universal Covenant.
For more on this subject, go to Rainbow Covenant on the website or check out the customer reviews of Rainbow Covenant on Amazon.com (which are updated more often than this particular page of the First Covenant website.)
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