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Sacrifices
04-08-2018, 06:32 AM
Post: #1
Sacrifices
My understanding is that G-d's commands to humankind can be divided into distinct categories as follows:
  1. Commands that are logically obligatory on everyone to obey. (e.g., being kind, not murdering)
  2. Commands that have no logical necessity for everyone. This category can be further subdivided:
    1. Commands that, although there is no general moral obligation to observe them, could nevertheless provide a practical benefit to a person or to society. (tithing, circumcision)
    2. Commands that do not provide a practical benefit. (wearing ritual fringes)
Gentiles are obligated to obey all commands in category 1. Gentiles may observe commands in category 2.1, as long as they are not done out of a sense that they are religious obligations. Gentiles should not observe any commands in category 2.2.

Assuming this summary is correct, I have a question about animal sacrifice: why were Gentiles permitted to perform it? Was it the case that animal sacrifice fell into category 2.1 (it had practical benefit) -- if so, what was the benefit? Or was it the case that animal sacrifice had no practical benefit and it was simply an exception to the general rule that Gentile should never observe commands from category 2.2?

(This question is of theoretical interest only as actually performing a sacrifice is the furthest thing from my mind.)
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04-10-2018, 09:04 AM (This post was last modified: 04-13-2018 12:05 AM by Director Michael.)
Post: #2
RE: Sacrifices
B"H
In order to answer this question, one first needs to understand how the commands from G-d are divided into different categories, and then understand how each of those categories applies to Gentiles. So let's start out with some refinement of your categories. (All of this can be learned from the book "The Divine Code," by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.)

Based on the Torah of Moses (the Written Torah and the Oral Torah), G-d's commands to humankind are divided into two distinct categories, as follows:

I. Commands to the Jews (the Children of Israel).
II. Commands to the Gentiles, who are the Non-Jews (the Children of Noah).

All of these commands are G-d's will, so in terms of service to G-d, category (I) is the primary basis of valid religious practice for Jews, and category (II) is the primary basis of valid religious practice for Gentiles.

Each of these two categories is further subdivided into two parts:

I. Commands to Jews [a concise reference is: "Maimonides: The Commandments," with Notes and Appendices, pub. Soncino Press in 2 volumes]
(A) The eternal commandments to Jews given through Moses (total = 613).
- The statements of these commands are found in the Written Torah, and the details of their observance are part of the Oral Torah.
(B) The Rabbinical commandments to Jews (total = 7). For example, lighting the menorah on Hanukkah and reading the Book of Esther on Purim.
- These are based on the eternal commandment to Jews to obey decrees of the Great Sanhedrin.
- These became part of the (ongoing) Oral Torah.

II. Commands to Gentiles [a concise reference is: Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, chapters 9 and 10]:
(A) The 7 eternal commandments to Gentiles which are the "Seven Laws of Noah."
- These were given through Noah, and again in final form through Moses at Mount Sinai.
- Each one is referred to either explicitly or obliquely in the Written Torah, and the details of their observance are part of the Oral Torah.
- Each of these 7 commandments includes numerous details and extensions, which are explained in "The Divine Code."
(B) Additional commands to Gentiles which are part of the Oral Torah given through Moses.
- These are not stated explicitly in the Written Torah, but some are referred to obliquely.

Obviously, the main religious practice (service to G-d) for Gentiles is to fulfill their requirement to learn about and observe all the commands in category II. The one we are focusing on here is part of II(B): Gentiles should not originate a new religion or create religious commands for themselves.

In light of this restriction, there are the following different ways that the various THINGS commanded to Jews in category (I) apply to Gentiles, (NOTE WELL: It is not that any of the commands to Jews may apply to Gentiles, but rather that particular things commanded to Jews may or may not apply to Gentiles in some way. This is an important distinction!)

1. Things that Gentiles are logically and morally obligated to observe in general, from the perspective of Torah, but not as commandments.
- For example, honoring parents, giving proper charity, and not hating others, not taking revenge, and not bearing a grudge.

2. Things that Gentiles are not logically obligated to observe, but they provide a practical benefit to some people or to a society.
- Gentiles may optionally observe those things (fully or partially, but not as commandments) for the sake of providing the tangible benefit or refinement of character.
- Examples: marriage, male circumcision, returning lost objects, providing no-interest (or low-interest) loans to poor people, forgoing interest on loans

3. Things that provide a safeguard against coming close to or being tempted to violate any of the 7 Noahide Laws.
- These are permitted and encouraged for Gentiles, and some are logically included as obligatory extensions of the 7 Laws themselves.
- Examples: not having intimate contact with a forbidden partner, not coveting what another person has, removing sources of danger from one's property, not being cruel to animals

4. Things that are purely Jewish ritual commands (e.g. things that are called "signs" for the Jews), that do not provide any practical benefit on a logical basis.
- Gentiles should not observe any of these things, since for a Gentile, it can only be viewed as creating for oneself a new Divine commandment, which is forbidden.
- Examples: wearing tefillin or tzitzit fringes, or having a mezuzah scroll on one's door, or waving the four species during Sukkot.

5. Things that Gentiles may or may not be logically obligated to observe, but they serve the spiritual relationship between G-d and all human beings, based on Torah.
- Gentiles may observe those things. But since they have a religious basis instead of a logical basis, a Gentile should take care not to do them as commandments.
- Examples: prayer, repentance, Torah study (not in-depth in general, but can be in-depth for matters of the Noahide Code), bringing burnt animal sacrifices.
NOTE: in our times, Gentiles should be advised not to bring sacrifices.

Beyond looking into the things that are commanded to Jews, there are some things that are presented within Torah as being G-d's will and desire for ways in which Gentiles should strive to make the world a better place, with correct and orderly human societies for His sake. This is called "yishuv olam" ("settling the world").
- These are not obligatory on every person individually, but they are goals that should be maintained within societies.
- Examples: establishing just and fair codes of necessary societal laws with effective deterrents against wrongdoing, having children and bringing them up to be good people, wise use of resources without destroying the environment.

This is an overview of what is included the "Noahide Code," with a few examples in each area.
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