ELISHEVA BARRE studied with Rabbi Yossef Kappach for 8 years, teaches Torah Law according to Maimonides, obtained the diploma of the Biblical Polemics Institute, had a radio show in Hebrew and English analyzing the news in the light of Jewish Law, studied at Bar Ilan University and is a regular attendant to the seminars of Machon Moshe (Rabbi Ratson Arussi) and Mishpat HaIvri (Professor Nachum Rakover). She authored "Torah for Gentiles, the Messianic and Political Implications of the Bnei Noah Laws", published in 2008, ISBN 978-965-91329-0-4, and represented by Pomeranz bookstores.
OPEN LETTER TO BNEI NOAH
Dear Bnei Noah,
I understand your desire to follow HaShem's commandments and find merit and favor in His eyes. I appreciate your commitment to the study of Torah, and I know you are sincerely committed. I realize your desire to express this commitment by taking upon yourself even those Mitzvot which are not an obligation for you. I value your compliance to the instructions you receive from the rabbis you turn to and I respect those rabbis. The last thing I want to do is undermine the trust you have in them.
The Torah is a divine Law. What you learn is between you and God. In it, we are told that even if the King (who has the power to put to death anyone he wants at his discretion by simply raising his finger) commands a Jew to do something which is against the Torah, we do not obey him. And in case the Sanhedrin itself orders something we know for sure to be wrong ("for sure" is a very high requirement), we are not to obey because it is a mistake to think that in such a case, the authority of the Sanhedrin supercedes the knowledge someone himself has of the Law. All the more so, the halachic authority of rabbis and teachers who are not the Sanhedrin.
Not everyone and certainly not a Ben Noah, can judge what is correct and what is not, which makes him dependent on a teacher. Many Bnei Noah have been learning and following rabbis before the Bnei Noah laws became public knowledge in the wake of the Lubavitch Rebbe's campaign. Rabbi Yoel Schwartz is one of the rabbis who has been teaching Bnei Noah with great dedication for decades. I know him to be a learned man and a kind person too and I respect him.
Now that halachic questions come up in public forums for discussion, you, dear Bnei Noah, are confronted with different opinions to choose from, and in certain cases this clashes with what you believed to be true so far. Creating doubt in your mind is, according to Jewish Law a grave sin, because it causes uncertainly as to your very commitment and it undermines the foundation of your faith. That is the sin for which Moses was punished when he hit the rock instead of speaking to it. Alternately, it will bring you to judge and reject the voice of a certain scholar which does not fit in the teachings of your rabbi and that is yet another dreadful consequence of our own divisions and the fact we do not have a united Code of Law accepted all Jews.
To say the Law is divine is to say it has to be taken very seriously. That is why a Jew is obliged to rebuke and correct a fellow-Jew who has misconceptions and makes mistakes – on condition that person is willing to accept the rebuke and correct his ways. We have no such obligation towards Bnei Noah because towards them, we do not have such a responsibility (unless they live as Resident Strangers in our land, under Jewish sovereignty and Torah Law, which is not the case today). If Gentiles copy Jewish practices forbidden to them, we may ignore them as long as they don't cause any harm to us. However, when a Gentile turns to a Jew with a question about the Torah and what mitzvot he may or may not take upon himself to observe voluntarily, and if that Jew is well enough informed to give an answer, it is polite to give it and obligatory do so honestly, even in case it might clash with other opinions.
On a public forum, such questions are not asked privately, and the one who asks them publicly (not knowing who the person who relates to his question will be) will receive as many different and contradictory answers as there are different and contradictory opinions and levels of understanding of the Law. I wish to add, to make the picture complete, that many responses posted on these forums stem from people who just think they know something. The advantage to be derived from an exposition of multiple opinions is that it gives the Ben Noah who asked a multiple choice. Considering he is ignorant of the sources and the intricacies of the Law, he is left with his own judgment and conscience to weigh for himself which reply is best sustained and therefore most reliable. And he can always go on asking questions to clarify what is not clear and get further information. This is how one learns, when the aim is to observe the Torah Law as God commanded it. In case one has a doubt, it is preferable to abstain than to act on "blind" faith.
In weighing opposing opinions, the last thing you want to do is rely on the mere reputation of the person who expresses a certain view, without considering the value of the arguments he puts forward. To give a parallel, that is the difference between a doctor who prescribes a certain drug without informing his patient what it is and how it works, and the doctor who bothers to explain this to his patient, as much as any layman can understand. It has been proven that the doctors who explain this to their patients get the best results. And in the same way as a patient may change doctors, consult another specialist, even drop conventional medicine and seek relief with naturopaths, so too a Ben Noah who wishes to fulfill his commandments to the best in order to properly serve the God who dictated them, is allowed – nay encouraged – not to stop half way and go on investigating the truth he dedicated his life to.
He will be rewarded not for the perfection or lack of perfection of his deeds, but for his intention because "God wants the sincerity of man's heart". Your very search for truth is what gives you great merit, there is absolutely no doubt about that. But the Torah is very demanding, for Jews as well as Gentiles. And it is, first and foremost, a challenge and an invitation for every man to perfect his ways, clear his mind, purify his heart, and elevate himself. The Law's instructions are the way to achieve this goal by dictating commandments and prohibitions and any diverging from them will miss the goal, but it does not request an immediate and instant result. It is a lifetime project. The promise of a great reward is the compassionate God's encouragement to every man to be his best.
Considering the Torah is a political project since it postulates a Supreme Sovereign, the laws and jurisdiction it dictates for Bnei Noah also have political implications. As things stand today, the confrontation between "Athens" and "Jerusalem" whereby when the one is up the other is down, seems to turn around this pivot. By adhering to the Torah's Bnei Noah Laws, you have an important role to play in this scenario.
With blessings and best wishes of success to everyone,