By Jane and Basil Andrews from Malasya
Having found the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, one will naturally want to seek answers to a host of questions. How do I know God? How do I address the Master of the universe? What does it mean to fulfil a certain commandment? How can I improve my character? How do I pray and repent? What does it mean that God is One – what is the unity of HaShem? How can I understand Tanakh better? If you have these questions and more, you are not alone. The Noahide Academy of Israel formulated a series of courses viz the Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah courses for Noahides(with a third course, Even HaEzer, on the horizon) which provided the much-needed answers to our questions.
Jews are called to be a "light to the nations". Therefore, it only makes sense for the nations to learn Torah from the Jewish Rabbis / Teachers who are the experts, lest we, God forbid, create a new religion. We do not want to be like the blind leading the blind or we might, God forfend, end up in the proverbial ditch; misled, misinformed and miss the mark altogether.
HaShem has given the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai through Moses. Subsequently, through the tradition of the Jewish sages, the truth of the Torah has been transmitted from one generation to another. We, the Bnei Noah (non-Jews) cannot under any pretext think that we have the truth and know the truth without learning from the Jewish people regardless of how honest our intentions may be.
To compound the situation, our Bible texts are translated versions of the Torah/Tanakh in various languages, inevitably resulting in some departure from the original Hebrew text. Any translated version at its best, can never hope to measure up to the original Hebrew text as meaning and intent may be lost in translation. Hence, in order to align ourselves to the truth of the Torah, we need proper guidance from Torah scholars.
The Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah courses were specially tailored for Noahides to lay a firm foundation in Torah observance.
Both courses were carefully structured for the Teachers / Rabbis to impart to us spiritual truths through a systematic curriculum. The courses provided clarity and understanding to enable us to live our lives responsibly as we are all accountable to HaShem.
Both courses helped us to have a better and clearer grasp of Torah principles supported by credible sources as our point of reference. Throughout all the study sessions, we were encouraged to ask questions to clear whatever doubts, uncertainties, misunderstandings or preconceived notions that we might have had.
In short, the Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah courses provided us with a much-needed platform to springboard our pursuit of Torah learning towards the fulfilment of the seven Noahide commandments and all their components both on a theoretical as well as on a practical level.
The main thrust of the courses is to impart to us that the Master of the universe commanded Adam, the first man, on the day of his creation in Genesis(Bereishit) 2:16, “.. and the Lord God commanded the man( Adam)..” God commanded six precepts to Adam :
1. the prohibition against worshipping false gods
2. the prohibition against cursing the Name of God
3. the prohibition against murder
4. the prohibition against specific forbidden sexual relations
5. the prohibition against theft
6. the commandment to establish laws and courts
and the seventh precept was added when God commanded Noah “not to eat flesh with its life, which is its blood” in Genesis/Bereishit 9:4;
7. the prohibition against eating flesh that was removed from a living animal1
Non-Jews who observe these seven universal laws are generally termed Noahides or Bnei Noah(children of Noah). Anyone who accepts upon himself or herself the fulfilment of these seven mitzvot/commandments and is precise in their observance is considered as one of “the pious among the nations” or chassid umos ha olam and will merit a share in the world to come as well as in the resurrection of the dead, together with Bnei Israel(children of Israel)2. This is only applicable if we keep the commandments because God commanded them in the Torah and not due to our intellectual or emotional justifications. There are a lot more extensions to these 7 commandments and to learn and internalize them, we should attach ourselves to proper rabbis who can guide us in the truth of the Torah.
We extend our deep gratitude to Rabbi Moshe Perets and his esteemed team comprising Rabbi Baruch Simcha, Rabbi Assi Harel and Rabbi Moshe Bernestein.
Most of all, we are truly thankful to our HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Blessed Be He, for the merit to learn Torah and grow in the path of righteousness.
May we all merit to make the world a dwelling place for HaShem, study Torah in a permitted way under Jewish guidance, fulfil the seven mitzvot for Noahides, pray, refine our character and perform acts of goodness and kindness.
By Jane and Basil Andrews
1 Notes from the Orach Chaim lectures