FAQs

Theological Topics

Why do bad things happen to good people?

B”H

Question: I’m curious to know: what does the Talmud say about bad things that happen to good people?

Answer: (By Dr. Michael Schulman and Rabbi Sholom Ber Bloom, Ask Noah International)

One important point is that we physical people have a very limited perspective on what are “bad things”, and our view of “happen” is limited to what we think we see in a small frame of time. But this topic does need a lot of explanation.

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How are sins forgiven without blood sacrifice?

Question: The shedding of blood for atonement for sin, the transgressing of G-d’s commandments, runs throughout the Hebrew Bible. How do you respond to this?

Answer: You have pointed out a deception – the fabricated concept that the Jewish service of sacrifices to G-d in the Holy Temple brought them forgiveness from sin. That is false, and it is a distortion of the true meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures.

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What does “new covenant” mean in Jeremiah 31?

Here is the translation of Jeremiah 31:30-33 that is printed in the Artscroll Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh. [Tanakh is an abbreviation with the Hebrew Letters T – N – Kh, which stand for T(orah) = 5 Books of Moses, N(evi’im) = Prophets, Kh(esuvim) = Holy Writings.]

30. Behold, days are coming, says the L-rd, when I will seal a new covenant with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL and with the HOUSE OF JUDAH:

31. not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers on the day that I took hold of their hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, for they abrogated My covenant, although I became their Master, says the L-rd.

32. For this is the covenant that I shall seal with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL after those days, says the L-rd; I will place my Torah within them and I will write it onto their heart; I will be their G-d and they will be a people for Me.

33. They will no longer teach – each man his fellow, each man his brother – saying, “Know the L-rd,” For all of them will know Me, from their smallest to their greatest, says the L-rd, when I will forgive their iniquity and will no longer recall their sin.

A fine traditional explanation of the “New Covenant” verses in Jeremiah has been published in chapter 10 of the book “Their Hollow Inheritance,” by Michoel Drazin. Here is an excerpt of the main points from that chapter: Read more »

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What is the meaning of full trust in G-d?

What does it mean to have full “bitachon” (trust) in G-d?

From a talk by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. Presented with permission from the publisher, Sichos in English. Translated from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 1-6.

Bitachon/trust is not merely the faith that G-d has the potential to bestow good [upon a person] and save him from adversity. Instead, [it implies that] the person trusts that G-d will actually do this. And his trust is so absolute that he is serene and does not worry at all. As [the book] Chovos HaLevavos [Duties of the Heart] states:[1] “The essence of bitachon/trust is the serenity of the person who trusts. His heart relies on the One Whom he trusts that He will do what is best and most befitting with regard to the matter he trusts in Him.” Read more »

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Should I punish or harm myself for doing a sin?

Answer:*

The true basic meaning of repentance is abandoning sin, and this is one of the universal commandments in the Torah. How is this accomplished? In the preamble to “Laws of Repentance” in Mishneh Torah, the book of Torah Laws compiled by Maimonides (“Rambam”), he writes that repentance entails one positive command: that the sinner turn away from committing his sin before G‑d, and confess to G-d. Read more »

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Do miscarried babies have souls? What happens?

Question: We lost our unborn baby, and now we are very sad about this.
In regard to such small unborn babies, do they already have a soul given from G-d? And what happens to them after they died? Is there a possibility to say a special prayer to say goodbye to our baby?

Answer: Please accept my heartfelt condolences for your loss. All of the questions you asked are important and fundamental issues:

(1) Do unborn babies already have a soul given from G-d?

The investment of a soul from the spiritual realm into the body it is assigned to by G-d is a step by step process. It does not happen all at once. Even at birth, the process is not yet 100% complete. Read more »

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What is the Gentiles’ purpose?

The holy Zohar explains that the purpose of G-d’s creation of the physical universe is for the eternal future World to Come, when His unlimited Essence will be openly revealed in this physical world, dwelling together with human beings, both Gentiles and Jews. Many Biblical prophecies focus on the Righteous Gentiles in the Messianic Era. For example: Read more »

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Are G-d’s eyes always upon the Promised Land?

REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY NOAHIDE: Fundamental principles and historical highlights explained from the Torah perspective. Read more »

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Am I expected to sacrifice animalistic desires?

Question: I have felt an interest in bringing burnt offerings, but I was told by a Noahide that it’s about sacrificing our animal desires. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it lines up with my personal struggles. Read more »

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What’s the Jewish outlook on the Book of Jonah?

The Book of Jonah is read during the services of Yom Kippur, the Jews’ Day of Atonement, because its messages are a fitting inspiration for that time. To understand this scripture, it helps to know the identities of Jonah and the king of Nineveh. Read more »

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What Is Hanukkah?

Based on the Talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Published and copyright © by Sichos in English. Presented with permission from Sichos in English

(For translation in Portuguese, CLICK HERE: https://asknoah.org/essay/o-que-e-hanukkah

The Gemara asks in Tractate Shabbos, “What is Hanukkah?” As Rashi explains, the Gemara is inquiring as to what miracle brought about the establishment of the festival of Hanukkah. Read more »

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Does G-d want a dwelling place in this world?

A review of a Chassidic discourse by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, on the verse said by Jacob in Genesis 32:11, “Katonti MiKol HaChasadim” (“I have become small from all the kindnesses”) Read more »

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What is the nature of G-d and life’s purpose?

Questions: I was hoping for your help. I have so many questions, a spiritual crisis. I am overwhelmed by competing media/input and don’t know what way to turn. I need answers to why we are here? What is the purpose of life and the nature of G-d? I need insight. Any assistance you could offer would be much appreciated.

Response: The first thing is, don’t worry, and don’t be overwhelmed! The answers you are seeking are known and available, so you can rest assured about that.

1. “What is the nature of G-d?”

Since you asked this question, you’ve demonstrated that you already are holding the answer in your hands and in your heart. You are not doubting the fact that there is G-d, and all the answers flow from that fact, once you have opened up the right channels, which are the ones that lead directly to Him.

The most direct channel that leads directly to Him is His own Word: what does He have to say to us about Himself? Since He is eternal, so too, His own Word is eternal, since He enclothes Himself within His Word. His Word is the 24 Books of the Hebrew Bible, which is available for everyone to learn from, but of course one needs a faithful, uncorrupted translation, and the correct explanations to begin to understand, at a simple level, the unlimited depth of its meanings. However, it’s required for a person to approach it with the correct mindset, so that’s something that you’ll need to establish first.

Also, I want to share with you the good news that the basic answers to almost all of your questions, and possibly even all of them, have been made available in a book that we published for this very purpose. I highly recommend that you read/study this book, and make notes as you go on all the questions that you still have left. Here is the book, which you can get from Amazon in print or as an e-book:

https://asknoah.org/books/seven-gates-of-righteous-knowledge-for-all-righteous-gentiles

Here is the Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION: The Image of G-d Within Every Person
Perfection and Elevation of Mankind (Tikkun Ha’Adam);
Perfection and Elevation of the World (Tikkun Ha’Olam)

THE FIRST GATE: The Gate of Knowledge of G-d
1. Recognition of G-d’s Existence and His Essential Unity

  • Drawing Closer to G-d on a Personal Level
  • Explanations from Torah of G-d’s Existence
  • G-d’s Total Incorporeality and Unity

2. The Unity of G-d and His Powers; The Mistaken Belief in Independent Deities
3. Divine Providence and Trust in G-d
4. Bringing Recognition of G-d into One’s Heart and Actions

THE SECOND GATE: The Gate of Prophecy from G-d
1. Centrality of Prophecy in the Foundations of Faith; The Concept of Free Choice
2. Various Levels of Prophecy
3. The Prophecy and Torah of Moses
4. The Eternity of the Torah of Moses

THE THIRD GATE: The Gate of Serving G-d
1. The Essence of the Service of G-d
2. Contemplation of the Seven Noahide Commandments and Lessons from the Hebrew Bible
3. The Value of Action, Intention and Happiness in Serving G-d

THE FOURTH GATE: The Gate of Prayer to G-d
1. The Service of Prayer
2. Prayer with Speech and Intention

THE FIFTH GATE: The Gate of Personal Traits Desired by G-d
1. The Definitions of Behaving as a “Wise Person” or a “Pious Person”
2. Healing the Soul from Unhealthy Traits
3. Guarding Oneself from Sin; Going Beyond the Measure of the Law
4. The Trait of Modesty
5. Influence of One’s Environment; Rebuking Another Person
6. Loving Other People and Respecting Other People
7. The Care that a Wise and Righteous Person Must Take in Speaking
8. Respecting People who Suffer Misfortunes; Honoring Parents; Honoring One’s Spouse; Educating Children
9. Charity and Acts of Kindness

THE SIXTH GATE: The Gate of Being Tested by G-d
1. Why G-d Tests People
2. A Trouble or Tribulation that Comes Upon Society or an Individual
3. Relating to Suffering that Others Cause to Oneself and to the Suffering that Others Experience
4. The Test of Depression

THE SEVENTH GATE: The Gate of Repentance to G-d and the Principle of Reward and Punishment from G-d
1. Contemplating Repentance to G-d
2. Achieving a Complete Repentance
3. How G-d Judges for Rewards and Punishments
4. The Future World to Come and Who Will Merit that Reward
5. Free Will
6. The Obstruction of Free Choice as a Punishment from G-d
7. The Heavenly Reward for a Departed Soul; A Person’s Reward in the Future World to Come
8. The Messianic Era and the Resurrection of the Dead

One of the reasons that I’m giving you that recommendation is because you’ll be much better prepared for further conversation if you’ve already been exposed to the basics of this information.

Here are few initial notes about this question you sent me:

2. Why are we here?

Really, the question to begin with, is “How are we here?”

The way we are here is that G-d, our Creator, is constantly creating us to be here, i.e., He is constantly creating the existence of you, me, and everything else. In the Six Days of Creation, each thing that G-d “spoke” came into being only as a result of His “speaking,” and His “speaking” was the only basis of each thing’s existence. In truth, G-d has no body and no form of any kind, so “speech” is only written as an analogous term for the spiritual creative forces that He emanates from His Essence, to bring into revelation and existence the entities that He desires to have in existence at every moment in time. The Six Days of Creation were only the beginning of this Divine creative process. From then on it continues constantly, as long as it is G-d’s desire to do so.

G-d is a Complete Perfection, so He Himself has no intrinsic need for anything. He brought about and brings about the creation of the spiritual (“Heavenly”) and physical realms only for the purpose of fulfilling a desire that He has. The Sages of the Esoteric Wisdom within the Torah, which is known as the (true) “Kabbalah,” taught that G-d’s desire was / is to have a dwelling place for His Essence here in this physical world, i.e., for His Essence to be eternally openly revealed here in this world with the human beings that He creates in His image. The time when this will take place is called the Messianic Era, and the future eternal World to Come.

3. What is the purpose of life?

However, the world as G-d originally created it — such that it would APPEAR to be (but is not actually) an independent existence that is separate from His Essence — was not yet capable of receiving the open revelation of His Essence. Therefore, an intermediate stage of development was needed, a period of time during which human beings would become capable and prepared — through their own cumulative efforts — to receive the revealed dwelling of G-d’s Essence in the physical creation.

To accomplish this in the manner He desired, G-d revealed Himself a little bit to the first human beings, Adam and Hava (Eve), giving them Divine instructions to follow, known as the Seven Universal Commandments (initially 6 were explicit and the 7th was implicit). He then set up an Evil Inclination within them, that would challenge their obedience to those commandments and the moral principles that follow from them. From the outset, He also endowed them with a Good Inclination, and the spritual strength and capabilty to overcome their Evil Inclination. And He endowed them with the unique gifts of Human Intellect and Freedom of Choice (which together are the image of G-d in mankind), to choose at any time whether to follow their Good Inclination or their Evil Inclination. A person’s choosing to weaken and overcome his Evil Inclination is what makes him and the whole creation, little by little, more and more capable of being able to receive the revelation of G-d’s Essence. That will happen in the Messianic Era, which is going to begin speedily in our days.

Of course G-d knew that sometimes a person will fail in this challenge, so He also created and always leaves open the Path of Repentance, through which a person who errs or strays can return to the One True G-d and be forgiven forthwith for his sin, and then continue with a clean slate in accomplishing his mission in the world. (But even if a person temporarily has not repented, he still needs to be continuing on with his mission that G-d gives him in the world.)

From that time, G-d has led the world through a series of spiritual ups and downs, but with more ups than downs:

  • The descendants of Adam and Hava declined spiritually and socially until the time of the Flood, and then through Noah and his family, humanity was given a fresh start, on a higher spiritual level, with the renewal of the 7 Universal (Noahide) Commandments.
  • Then people declined again spiritually, until Abraham came on the scene, and he taught the whole world about the One True G-d (because almost everyone had forgotten about Him and His 7 commandments).
  • From Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, G-d brought forth the Israelite nation, to henceforth be the witnesses of His Oneness and Unity to the rest of mankind. That nations’s witnessing of His Oneness and Unity was accomplished through His public revelation to them (all three million of them, or more) of His openly speaking the Ten Commandments to them all at Mount Sinai. But He only did this after they all made an eternal covenant with Him that they would accept the Torah and additional commandments that He would give them there at Mount Sinai, through His foremost prophet for all time, who was Moses our teacher. Included with the Torah and its Jewish commandments they received there was the instruction from G-d to teach and encourage the rest of the nations of the world to follow their Seven Universal Commandments that had been given for them (all the nations) through Adam and Noah.
  • After that, the Jewish people and the whole world went through many ups and downs, until King David came on the scene, to be the father of the dynasty through which would eventually be born the Messiah, the Messianic king, who will usher in the Messianic Era, which is the purpose for which G-d created the physical world and mankind. King David fought the Wars of G-d, fully accomplished the settlement of the 12 Tribes of Israel in their promised Holy Land, and made all the preparations for the building of G-d’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem, forever to be G-d’s chosen place for the revealed dwelling of His Divine Presence in the World.
  • The actual building of the Holy Temple and its investment with G-d’s Divine Presence was accomplished by King David’s son, King Solomon, who was the wisest man of all time until his descendant, the Messianic king, will come. The 40 years of King’s Solomon’s reign, during which the entire world enjoyed peace and prosperty and spiritual enlightenment, was a small taste of what the world will be like in the future Messianic Era.
  • After King Solomon, with ups and downs, the Jewish people and the world declined, until the First Temple was destroyed, 10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel were lost (not to be returned until the Messiah comes), and the remaing Jews were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. When this time decreed by G-d was completed, Jews returned to the Holy Land and built the Second Holy Temple, and established great Torah Sages and great academies of Torah learning. But eventually the conquering Romans destroyed the Second Holy Temple and exiled the Jewish people, who became dispersed around the entire world (and repeatedly persecuted), up to and including the present time.

Now keep in mind that everything described above was exactly what was prophesied would happen, as recorded in the prophesies from G-d to His prophets in the Hebrew Bible. That is because all of this is according to G-d’s plan, according to the steps He is leading the world through on the way to its being prepared for the coming of the Messianic king and the Messianic Era. As prophesied, that will begin with the Messiah building the eternal Third Holy Temple (on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and gathering all the Jews back to their Holy Land, and the return of G-d’s Divine Presence to be openly revealed there. Through all of this, the entire world will be brought to everlasting peace, prosperity, spiritual enlightenment, and full acceptance and ever-increasing knowledge of the One True G-d. And that will be just the Beginning.

Now, the reason that everything in our specific time in history is in such a spiritual crisis, and a state of confusion and rampant falsehood, and serious spiritual decline, combined with an explosion of technological advancement and instantaneous world-wide connectivty and communciations, is because we have reached the prophesied time of the “Footsteps of the Messiah,” also known as the “Birthpangs of the Messiah,” also known as “the End of Days” (meaning, the end of the days before the Messiah comes).

In other words, these are the days of the final spiritual testing, before everything will be answered and everything will be revealed. At the same time, G-d is now making the knowledge and the ability openly available in the world for people to get the answers they need in order to see the Truth of Torah and the One True G-d, and start living their lives in a righteous way — which for Gentiles means in accordance with the Seven Noahide Commandments. Again, it was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible that all of this would happen.

All of this initial information is just to give you the historical context for the spiritual crises and competing inputs that the world is experiencing now, to show you that all of this is happening according to G-d’s plan, so you can relax and be assured that you and the world are in His Good Hands. And that by His Divine Providence, you came to the right address to get the correct anwers to your questions.

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Is Noahide theology the same as “natural laws”?

Question: I’ve always thought that Noahic Covenant theology was the equivalent of Natural Law theory. Isn’t it why we should be united in affirming the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, because ethical monotheism is shared ground?

Answer: We cannot say that the Noahide Commandments were derived in an intellectual way from human observations of the functioning of the natural order, even with the understanding that the natural order was created by G-d according to His wisdom, and that G-dliness is invested within it. The first six of the Noahide Commandments were given directly by G-d to Adam in the Garden of Eden. This happened on the very day Adam was created, before he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! In such a state of perfection, what was the need for a set of commandments? Read more »

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Are G-d’s attributes masculine or feminine?

The fact that there is an existence of male and female creations within the physical world is a reflection of the fact that there are two different types of spiritual attributes that exist in the spiritual realms. Read more »

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Why do you not write “G-O-D”? It is spelled out in Jewish books of Torah and prayer.

The source of this custom for not-sanctified contexts is Deuteronomy 12:3-4. In verse 3, the Israelites were commanded that when they entered the Land of Canaan, they were to destroy the pagan alters, pillars, idol-trees and idol-statues, and to destroy the NAMES of the idols from that place. Then verse 4 says, “You shall not do so to the L-rd your G-d.”

In practical terms, this means in part that we should take precautions so that printings or inscriptions of names of G-d will not come to be “desecrated” – erased, torn, destroyed, or otherwise treated disrespectfully. This applies to a name of the One True G-d in ANY language. Books of scriptures or prayer books are usually treated with proper respect, so it is not a problem to print a Divine name in such books. But other types of printings could easily come to be thrown away, so in that case it is best if a Divine name of G-d is not written out completely. Then the real forming of the holy name is within our mind, and not on the actual page.

More generally, it is proper to shown this respect for G-d’s printed names, because it is an expression of the awe and fear of G-d which we should have.

If one has a document that contains a name of G-d but which is no longer needed, it is best to set it aside in a safe place so that it will not be thrown into the garbage, etc. When one accumulates a number of such items and they need to be disposed of, it is considered to be appropriate to respectfully bury them, so they will decompose within the ground.

Although an image on a computer monitor is not considered a permanent inscription that needs to be guarded, the concern is with the pages that may be printed out.

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If one repents and then sins again, is a further repentance accepted?

G-d does not view a person as a “nuisance” for repeatedly asking for forgiveness. Read more »

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Is it a lack of faith if one goes to doctors?

Just the opposite! G-d wants us to bring down His miraculous healing power through these physical channels which He creates for His spiritual blessings to be manifested in the world. Read more »

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