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Who is obliged to establish righteous courts?
This statement in "The Path of the Righteous Gentile" is one of several that is not correct (and this one in particular is very exaggerated in regard to reality), as the question poses:

(06-05-2012, 12:48 AM)amenyahu Wrote: In the Path of the Righteous Gentile it states... Anyone who fails to establish a court system, that is, who lives in a community or city in which there are no courts, and who does nothing to correct the situation, is punishable by death. One who establishes or maintains courts of law that operate contrary to the Seven Universal Laws is similarly liable.

The part quoted here is incorrect, even though some people have inferred it from statements that may be found in the traditional sources (for example, RambaM, Laws of Kings 9:14). However, in RambaN's explanations on the Book of Genesis, he disputes this even for the specific case of Shechem and Dinah that is mentioned as a proof-text by RambaM. This issue is quoted and explained in "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem" Volume 3, Establishment of Laws and Courts 1:9.

But more than that, as explained there in topic 1:11, the option for a Noahide court to apply capital punishment for transgressions of the Seven Noahide Commandments is only applicable when the majority of the population of a society is G-d fearing (except that it applies at all times for murder), if this righteous majority also have the societal agreement and thus the governmental power in place to make the Noahide Commandments the law of the land and to enforce them. Under those conditions, the commandment applies for the society to establish a true Noahide court and to judge the citizens correctly according the Noahide code.

Even if this would happen in some modern society, and individuals who negated this righteous legal process would be liable to capital punishment according to RambaM, there is still a basic point of disagreement from RambaN, who said that the Noahide obligation for Laws and Courts is a positive ("to do") commandment, and negation of a positive commandment by inaction does not incur capital punishment.

But when the majority of a society are not G'd-fearing observant Noahides, there is no punishment for an individual who fails to establish Laws and Courts that follow the Noahide Code, because it is not within the power of an individual to do so.

One must add a simple clarification. It is a basic Torah principle that no one ever incurs liability to punishment for doing an transgression that is forced upon him by circumstances that he has no power to change and are not under his control. Therefore, a Gentile individual today who cannot change the overall system of laws and courts in a given country is definitely not liable for any type of punishment on that account.

Obviously, we appreciate that the Noahide commandment to establish justice has practical application in many other specific areas as pointed out in "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem" Volume 3. (As just one example: an individual is forbidden to bribe a judge to influence his ruling, and a judge is forbidden to take a bribe.)

Messages In This Thread
RE: Who is obliged to establish righteous courts? - by Rabbi Moshe Weiner - 06-20-2012, 03:24 AM
Creating a local Noahide Court - by nehemiah - 03-29-2016, 07:09 PM

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