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Fellowship in a non-Torah community

noodle Wrote:Hello, I am new here. What type of fellowship is acceptable if there is no Jewish community near? The nearest Jewish community of any kind is over 60 miles away and only meets together about once per month. The nearest Orthodox Jewish community is nearly 100 miles away from me. Is it idolatrous to seek local fellowship?

Greetings Noodle, and welcome to the Forum.

In this response, I'm assuming that you are an observant Noahide (not Jewish). When you ask about acceptable "fellowship," you need to make a separation in your thoughts between Friendship and Worship. Worship is something that is between G-d and you, and it does not require the presence of group participation (no group in the heavens above or on the earth below). All the more so, it does not require (or allow) that you put yourself into a place of idolatry, just so you can be with others while you yourself pray to the One True G-d.

But of course it is certainly OK to pray together as a family.

However, don't forget that just like yourself, there could be observant Noahides living in your close vicinity, wondering about this same question. So it is always a good idea to write in privately to me (Dr. Schulman, the Director of Ask Noah International /, and ask if I know of any Noahides who are living in your area.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with associating on a personal level with other persons in your community, as long as the persons are not a bad influence on you or your family members, and are not trying to draw you into idolatry, or away from your Noahide faith or your observance of any of the Noahide Commandments. The following is a precise explanation of what this means.

One should conduct himself or herself as Rabbi Nittai of Arbel taught in the Tractate "Ethics of the Fathers" 1:7 - "Keep away from a 'bad' neighbor, do not 'fraternize' with a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in [Divine] retribution." The wording of this Mishna is very precise, and the Rebbe explained the meaning as follows [in Likkutei Sichos, vol. 4]:

1) "Keep away from a 'bad' neighbor": The Mishnah does not say "Keep away from a 'wicked' neighbor," for its intent is not that one should judge another's conduct. Instead, the intent is that a person should decide whether closeness to a particular individual is beneficial or detrimental to his own divine service. The neighbor may be above all reproach, but traveling a different path of divine service. Any attempt to identify with him might thus be "bad," i.e. create confusion and discord.

2) "Do not 'fraternize' with a wicked person": Here, the Mishnah does not use the term "keep away," for the intent is not that one should sever contact with a person because his conduct is unworthy. "Al tis'haver," translated as "do not fraternize," literally means "do not join to." One should not "join" a wicked person by accepting his standards. One should, however, reach out with warmth and love to all people, regardless of their conduct, and endeavor to inspire them to improve themselves.

[Dr. Schulman notes: This is the way of the "disciples of Aaron - loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures, and bringing them near to the Torah." (Tractate "Ethics of the Fathers" 1:12) And how much more so should one endeavor to inspire himself to self-improvement (especially in the realm of learning and observance of the Noahide Commandments).]

3) "Do not abandon belief in [Divine] retribution": When a person lives in constant awareness of the possibility of Divine retribution, he will sincerely regret any misconduct. The discomfort this awareness brings will itself atone for his misdeeds, precluding the necessity for retribution from Heaven.
----end quote----

On the contrary, you can have a positive influence on others around you, in the realm of general morality, or observance of the Noahide Commandments, or acceptance of the eternal Truth of the Torah.

Messages In This Thread
Fellowship in a non-Torah community - by noodle - 03-19-2008, 10:19 AM
RE: Religion and community - by Director Michael - 03-21-2008, 07:55 PM
RE: Religion and community - by Director Michael - 03-21-2008, 06:34 PM

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