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Righteous Gentile & Pious (Hassid) Noahide
I wanted to know if following of the Seven Laws of Noah, and Torah education for ethics and spirituality considering the non-Jews, is a religion or a movement? Thank you.
Following of the 7 Laws of Noah (the Noahide Commandments), and Torah-based education for ethics and spirituality, is the ideal for all Gentiles (non-Jews), since these are eternal commandments from G-d.

Following G-d's commandments is required for everyone who is born into the world. It doesn't matter if you want to call this path a "religion" or a "movement," or something else. Really it is the way of life that will bring you Divine reward, simply by fulfilling the desire of G-d, and living as He wants you to. It means fulfilling your destiny on the side of righteousness, and living up to the purpose for which you were created.
Rabbi Yitz

A discussion from a group of Noahides:

Someone asked:
Could somebody be really righteous and not accept or believe in Torah?

This was in response to the statement:
A righteous gentile is simply one who does not actually trespass the Seven Commandments, even if they do not believe in Torah.

So my ?'s are: what is the differences between a Righteous Gentile and a Noahide Chassid and a Noahide?

Doesn't a person have to believe in Torah to accept the 7 Noahide Laws?

Hi Donny,

Donny Wrote:Someone asked: Could somebody be really righteous and not accept or believe in Torah? ... Doesn't a person have to believe in Torah to accept the 7 Noahide Laws?

There is righteous, and then there is really righteous :-)
More specifically, there is a continuous spectrum of righteousness which a Gentile can aspire to.

At the lowest level, there is "righteous" only in terms of the judgment of an earthly court of law (a Beis Din). This means that the Gentile doesn't actively transgress any prohibition for which he could be convicted in a Torah-based court of law (i.e. the Noahide Laws). The person only merits that he will not be punished by the earthly court. There are several reasons why a person might fulfill the Noahide Laws in practice, without accepting them as Torah-based commandments. This could be based on fear of punishment by the ruling authorities. Or perhaps the person wants to appear righteous in the eyes of others. Or perhaps it is only out of intellectual conviction.

Higher than this is righteous in piety (a "chassid," doing more than is required by the letter of the law). These are the Chassidei Umos Ha'olom, the Pious of the Nations. This is a Gentile who accepts and fulfills the Noahide Laws because the Holy One, blessed is He, commanded them in the Torah, through Moses. Through this connection to the Torah (the "Torah of Moses," which is the "Tree of Life") the Gentile merits a share in the World to Come.

It is from the Torah, through which G-d renewed the Noahide Laws, that we learn what these Laws are. The fact that Noah's descendants who lived before the revelation at Mt. Sinai had been commanded to fulfill certain laws does not have a bearing on mankind in terms of the Divine Law. G-d's revelation of Himself to the entire Jewish people at Mt. Sinai was for the purpose that the world would believe in the authority of Moses as the transmitter of G-d's eternal commandments to mankind.

In a similar way, the Jews do not gain spiritual merit through the commandment of circumcision because Abraham was commanded to do so. Rather, it is because G-d commanded the Jewish people through Moses, as recorded in Lev. 12:3 and explained in the Oral Torah.

Beyond this basic level of spiritual piety as one of the Chassidei Umos Ha'olom, a Gentile can choose to be more strict upon himself and/or to be involved in more deeds of goodness and kindness. He is also permitted to perform other (Jewish) mitzvos of the Torah (but not all), for the sake of a benefit that it will bring to his life, or to the lives of others, or to his society.

Dear Academy Rabbis, Director,
What is the extreme minimum acceptance and observance for a non-Jew to be considered a pious Noahide, meriting Resurrection and The World to Come?

Thank you.
As taught by Maimonides in his Codes (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, ch. 8):

This is a non-Jew who accepts upon himself to fulfill [i.e. not to violate the prohibitions of] the Seven Noahide Commandments, and is precise in their observance [at least according to the minimum requirements of their Torah Laws; see ch. 9-10 there]; this applies if he accepts them and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the [Written and Oral] Torah of Moses and informed the Jewish people through Moses, our teacher, that Noah's descendants had been commanded to fulfill them previously [through Noah].

Of course, there is a thin line for crossing over from minimum observance to transgression, and acts of wanton immorality are punishable even if they are not designated as capital sins. Also, a person who is genuinely pious will want to serve G-d, and merit additional reward, by observing more than the minimum requirements, and by doing acts of goodness and kindness.

For more details, see "The Divine Code," by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem:
Since the truth and knowledge of G-d will be everywhere and there will be no more falsehoods during the messianic era, as well as no more evil inclination, would it then be too late for anyone who is still alive during the messianic era to accept the 7 Noahide Commandments as specifically mentioned above to merit resurrection in the World to Come, if the person had not previously done so in the pre-messianic era? Without the evil inclination and lies, it would seem like there would be no real test anymore, and if there is no test, it would seem like there could be no merits.
It seems from the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah (Moshiach), that *before* the ingathering of all the Jews to the Holy Land of Israel (which is one of the events that will certify the actual beginning of the Messianic Era), there will be an awakening of great numbers of Gentiles around the world to seek out and begin following the will of G-d (Zechariah 8:20-23), which for Gentiles is first and foremost the observance of the Noahide Code. It has even been taught by Jewish Sages that more widespread knowledge and observance of the Noahide Code is even a prerequisite for the Messianic Era. (See Rambam, Laws of Kings 11:4, which states that before Moshiach brings in the Messianic Era, he will "strengthen the breaches" in the observance of Torah; and one of the breaches in the observance of Torah has been lack of observance of the Noahide Code). So it may be that all the Gentiles who enter into the Messianic Era will have already accepted the 7 Noahide Commandments - may this happen very speedily in our days!
I would just like some advice. Rambam stated in the Mishneh Torah that a gentile is one of the pious ones of the nations if he keeps the seven laws according to their details because they were commanded by G-d to Moses. I also know that he states a number of times that the pious of the nations have a share in the world to come.

Now I've checked part of the Talmud that applies to us Noahides (just for reference, not for in-depth study) and can see the source for the idea that the pious of the nations have a place in the world to come. Do you know the source in the Torah (written or oral) that states that a ben noah must believe that G-d commanded the Torah to Moses to be among the pious of the nations and have a place in the world to come? Is that part of the Talmud too, or amongst the Tosefos, or some of the Rishonim?

I know it will be for HaShem alone to judge whether he accepts a non-Jew into his coming world, the World to Come. But Rambam sets a standard, and I just want to know if it's his educated conclusion or whether he is drawing strands for Talmudic sources or those of the Rishonim.

And the motive behind my question is seen in the following analogy:

There are these categories:
- an atheist/idolator
- a person who accepts the one G-d and whose actions agree with the seven laws of Noah but doesn't believe (whether he is convinced of this or is just ignorant) that G-d commanded the Noahide laws to Moses
- a person who keeps the laws of Noah because they were commanded by G-d to Moses.

Now I know about the status of the last individual, i.e., pious. I have my opinion about the first since I think he goes against some fundamentals or against Noahide law. But what about the middle person?

One last question: I have my own opinion on which of the Noahide laws an atheist breaks (I believe it's blasphemy and the part of the law of idolatry that says "let the fear of Me be upon you"). As you know the Noahide law much more, what is the state of an atheist, even if he seems to observe the Noahide laws out of intellectual conviction. I know what Rambam says about him not being a pious, but the question I mean to ask is whether he breaks any of the Noahide laws by ascribing his own view to the notion that there is no G-d whatsoever.

Thanks for whatever information you can give.
Note: In my original posted reply dated April-24-20'12, I included some rather terse semantics which unfortunately were easy to misinterpret. This has just now been brought to my attention. The following is my updated post, which I hope will alleviate misunderstandings.

It seems that this common confusion arises from a widespread mistranslation, in which the basic prohibitions within the Noahide path are commonly referred to as the "Seven Noahide Laws" (sic.). Technically, that is not correct. The original Hebrew term, which (as expounded in the Talmud) is the "Sheva (7) MITZVOT B'nai Noach" = "Seven COMMANDMENTS for the Children of Noah". The entire discussion in the Talmud is based completely on that premise - that they are COMMANDMENTS, which means that they were commanded by G-d.

The Talmud shows that all of the 7 Noahide mitzvot can be derived by exegesis of the verse Genesis 2:16, which begins: "And the L-rd G-d COMMANDED the man [Adam], saying..."

Someone (for example, an atheist) who does not accept that these seven general precepts are given by G-d, and required by Him, has not connected with the system of observance which the Talmud and later Torah Sages identify as the Noahide path.

Rambam, in Laws of Kings 8:11, cites as Torah Law that in order to merit a share in the World to Come, a Gentile must "accept and fulfill [i.e. precisely observe] them [these 7 commandments] because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the Torah and informed us through Moses, our teacher, that Noah's descendants had been commanded to fulfill them previously" (through Adam and Noah). As referenced in "The Divine Code", p. 38, Rambam based this ruling on a text by one of the Talmudic sages, "Mishnat Rabbi Eliezer". None of the other Rishonim sages disagreed with Rambam about this point.

Furthermore, the Written Torah itself testifies that the Torah was given by G-d through Moses, and the Oral Torah (specifically in the Talmud) completely accepts this, and is BASED upon it. As it says in Deut. 33:4, "The Torah, which Moses commanded us, is the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob."

So if a Gentile does not accept that the "Seven Noahide COMMANDMENTS" were given by Moses, and that this is the very basis for that system of precepts, he is not fulfilling that which the Talmud identifies as the key to a Gentile's receiving a place in the World to Come. Also, this is derived by (Torah-based) simple logic, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains in this discourse:

In answer to your last question: an atheist breaks the FOUNDATION of the Seven Noahide COMMANDMENTS (that being the system of observance - in obedience to G-d's command - which is discussed in the Talmud). So by not stealing, not murdering, not committing incest, etc., an atheist has saved himself from the punishments he might incur for those specific acts. However, he has not saved himself from the judgment of Heaven on account of his being a "deviant believer" (an atheist believes there is no Deity)..

N.B. If a Gentile atheist does a meritorious good deed, he will surely be rewarded for that by G-d, but it will be a temporary reward.

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