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The need for a Rabbi and related questions
The following answer was checked over and approved by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem:

Your words do not correctly follow from the events related in Genesis 34, and you are making the following mistakes about that chapter and the commentary by Ramban:

a) in regard to the Divine Law and the status of the Israelites, before the Torah Law was given through Moses at Mount Sinai, and Ramban's opinion about these;

b) in regard to the Torah Law (halacha) and the status of the Jewish people, after the the Torah Law was given through Moses at Mount Sinai;

c) in the connection or lack thereof between (a) and (b);

d) In the definition you are using for the word "judgments"

Issues related to (a):

- Ramban does not make the conclusion that Jacob and his sons had no authority to judge the prince Shechem. He comments on verse 34:13, "it would have been fitting for them to have killed Shechem alone."

So we see that on the contrary, Ramban says there that Jacob and his sons (the leading members of the Israelite family at that time) did have the authority and the justification to judge and punish the prince Shechem as an individual (as his father came forward as a clear witness to Shechem's crime of kidnapping, and Shechem came forward and openly revealed that he was detaining Dinah), based on the pre-Sinai Divine Law that was extant at that time.

Ramban differs from Rambam on the following two points about the situation:

(1) Ramban says that the men of the city of Shechem were indeed guilty of transgressing the Noahide commandment to establish courts of law, but he holds that this particular transgression is not a capital sin, so Shimon and Levi did not execute all the men collectively on that account.

Note: we see in Genesis 14 that Abraham (then called Abram) pursued, battled and defeated the armies of the 4 kings on account of their sins that were subject to capital punishment. The armies had attacked and overthrown the metropolis of Sodom and Gomorrah, and they kidnapped citizens (including Lot) and stole booty. And Shem (Malchizedek) the king of (Jeru)Salem, who was the authority on pre-Sinai Noahide Law at that time, agreed that Abraham's action was permissible. (The Midrash gives details of how Abraham and his compatriots battled and killed the armies of the 4 kings.)

(2) Ramban reasons that what Shimon and Levi actually did in Genesis 34 was not just the judging and punishing that they were permitted to do according to the Divine Law (to punish the prince Shechem for kidnapping and rape of a maiden), but they also acted in personal revenge against the wrong and humiliation that was done to their sister, by killing all of the men of the city.

- It is not valid to extrapolate from the pre-Sinai Divine Law as it applied to Jacob and his sons, to assumptions about the Torah Law as it applies to the Jewish people post-Sinai. Jacob (Israel) and his sons had the same legal status as the other Gentile nations of that time. The Israelite family separated itself as a distinct tribe from the other nations and local societies at that time, but they were still "Children of Noah" in legal terms. It is clear from the Book of Genesis that they were considered by the societies around them as a family of "princes of G-d" and righteous judges, who were fit to judge and punish transgressors (see Genesis 21:25-26, 23:5-6, 31:32; 38:24). In Ramban's opinion, Shimon and Levi marred that high reputation by acting out of vengeance instead of justice, which is why Jacob cursed their anger.

(b) From the time of Mount Sinai and on, the pre-Sinai legal code of the Noahide Commandments was nullified, and it was replaced as laws of the Torah given to Moses. The Torah was given exclusively to the Jewish people, and in particular, its laws were given over into the hands and jurisdiction of the authentic Rabbinical Torah scholars and their courts (the highest court being the Supreme Sanhedrin). The Jews were designated as a "kingdom of priests" for the rest of the world, and a main function which G-d assigns for that "priesthood" is to teach the Torah. When questions or disagreements arise, their authorized scholars are to give "rulings" as to what the Torah Law is. When we talk about "rulings" by authentic Rabbinical Torah scholars, we are not talking about them presiding over trials of accused criminals and deciding the guilt or innocence of some defendant based on the evidence presented (as you seem to assume?). We are talking about their teachings and decisions as to what are the detailed applications Torah-based laws in general, so that if a person wants to correctly follow the letter and the spirit of the Torah Law which is G-d's Law, he will seek to find out what the authentic Rabbinical Torah scholars have taught. It behooves a person to learn and uphold that Torah-based legal code, because it is upon the basis of the Torah Law that a person is judged by the Heavenly Court (subject to the person's individual contingencies that the Heavenly Court is aware of) and punished and rewarded by G-d.

- In regard to Gentiles societies, their laws within the Torah do not encompass every single detail of their lives. In many areas they are permitted or obligated to establish fair and useful laws of their own crafting, which should not be in conflict with the Torah's general laws for Gentiles.

- Circumstances under which a Jewish court could halachicly conduct Torah-based court cases with Gentile defendants are discussed by and derived from Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings. It would only apply in a geographic area where the ruling government, Jewish or Non-Jewish, would establish this power for Jewish courts. The preferred situation is that the Gentiles, whether under the authority of a Jewish government or not, should fulfill their own Noahide commandment for Dinim ("Judgments", meaning Laws and Courts) by having their own courts that are empowered within their society to conduct court cases and enforce the laws

Messages In This Thread
RE: The need for a rabbi and other questions - by excited_for_life - 01-11-2012, 11:11 PM
looking for a tutor - by AskNoah fan - 02-20-2012, 04:31 PM
RE: The need for a Rabbi and other questions - by AskNoah fan - 02-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Ger Toshav and Rambam - by amenyahu - 01-11-2013, 03:39 AM
RE: Ger Toshav and Rambam - by Director Michael - 01-13-2013, 06:26 PM
RE: The need for a Rabbi and other questions - by Director Michael - 02-06-2014, 09:37 PM
Is this an obligation? - by GentileLaw - 07-08-2015, 02:58 AM
Rabbinical Jurisdiction - by amenyahu - 01-13-2014, 11:46 PM

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