The Realizations of a Righteous Gentile
The following personal essays were submitted to the AskNoah.org web site by a Noahide woman (a Bas Noach) who wishes to share her thoughts with our visitors.
Noahides are not alone. We are bound to the Jewish people in a beautiful reciprocal relationship. We create a space for their light to shine, and they illuminate our way.
We need the wisdom and holiness of the Jewish people in order to bind ourselves to G-d’s Will (which expresses His Essence), and they need us to prepare the world for the perfection of their Divine service and G-d’s homecoming in the Messianic Era speedily in our days.
In the many places where we still find ourselves temporarily lacking Noahide communities and relationships, we might feel honored to walk in the footsteps of the Jewish forefathers. Abraham came to recognize the One True G-d all on his own. He left his father’s house with no community to turn to, and he and Sarah began to build on their foundation of trust in G-d. They chose to become a true spiritual light which drew others to them.
As the Messianic Redemption is upon us according to all the signs, Gentiles who KNOW G-d and KNOW the Children of Israel can also become a beacon for those who are lost. It is an enormous responsibility and a privilege to serve our Creator in this way, and this further ties us to the Jewish people. But it is a choice, not a requirement. We have enormous freedom to work out our path, and some Noahides find this creativity to be a blessing. Others find it difficult, and would rather walk a path well trodden, with others close by to help set the pace. But we have to get there, we have to pave the way, for our own sake, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our children’s children. Our relationship to G-d is not merely about our own personal spiritual development, it’s about having the humility to put ourselves at His service – to see the need in somebody else, and respond to it without holding back because of our own needs. Somebody has to do the work … let’s get it right!
In considering the appropriateness of a Gentile taking on Jewish mitzvot [commandments] which are permissible for Noahides, one should have a very clear idea about what is behind the desire to do so. Just because a practice is allowed, does not necessarily mean that it is good idea for a particular individual, or that the timing is right. Study, reflection, and reliable Rabbinical consultation should precede any such decision.
Inspired by discussions with the director of AskNoah.org, I spent some time considering my own reasons for taking on the Jewish mitzvot of the blessings over food, the proper settings for prayer, and kashruth of meat, and in doing so I discovered that my own motivations are mixed. I certainly have a sincere desire to come closer to G-d. However, I can’t detach this desire from my connection with the Jewish people (and from what I have recently learned from AskNoah.org, it seems that I shouldn’t). But I see that I am also blending the psychological and the spiritual. In my personal desire to more closely identify with the Jewish people, I am allowing my emotional responses to get in the way of serving G-d according to His Will as given to Gentiles in the Torah. This is like telling G-d that I know best how to serve Him, and that I will modify His path for me as I personally see fit (G-d forbid).
Further, I have found that I have also misunderstood ethical mitzvot of the Torah such as charity, the laws of proper speech, the laws regarding property and damage, and those concerning modesty. These I have always considered to be a sort of “deeper look” into the 7 Laws of Noah. But the correct explanation is that for Jews they are commandments, and for Gentiles they are incumbent on us as logical obligations. However, this kind of going beyond the 7 Laws does aid directly in G-d’s plan for Gentiles to improve the world, and is a sort of natural next step for one who has mastered his primary responsibilities. This is different from the category of mitzvot mentioned above (e.g., blessings, a daily prayer liturgy, kosher meat) which may be an indirect aid to this mission by refining the character of the Gentile, but they may also become a distraction from his essential job, or an expression of his own ego. This latter pitfall may possibly be avoided if these mitzvot are carefully performed according to the Torah tradition, as this will tend to nullify the person before G-d, taking personality out of the equation. This is an major responsibility for a Gentile, and requires input from a qualified reliable Rabbi.
It is important for Gentiles to understand that if we take on permitted but unrequired mitzvot for the purpose of the practical benefits they will bring to our lives and the lives of others, this will ensure that we do not consider them to be personal commandments, that we don’t get to make up the rules. It also maintains the intellectual distinction between our true 7 commandments which connect us to eternity (our reward of a portion of the World to Come), and those which are voluntary for us and do not. And maybe it also helps to instill a little humility, to recognize that we could use a bit of eternal reward.