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Can the 7 Noahide Commandments Save a Life?

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

By Rabbi Moshe Bernestein

In this Torah portion, we find a mind-blowing story. Dinah, the daughter of Leah whom she had borne to Jacob went out to see the daughters of the land. Shechem, the son of Hamor, the prince of the land, saw her, and he abused her physically. Jacob’s sons arrived from the field when they heard the story and they were saddened. Words could not describe their grief and their humiliation.

Dinah had been kidnapped in broad daylight! An entire population of the city aided and assisted in this action. And the others stood by and watched. Either way, they had all kept their silence.

Shechem was the prince of an empire. Dinah’s continued abduction was the talk of that region and beyond. However, there was no response, no justice.

Three Noahide laws were violated in this story: the obligation to avoid immoral behavior such as sexual abuse, the prohibition against theft, Dinah being kidnapped, and the establishment of a Noahide court of justice in order to judge the transgressor. The city of Shechem and all its inhabitants did not judge the transgressor, Shechem the son of Hamor.

The fifth principle of Noah is about respecting the property of others. In other words, not stealing or kidnapping. Whatever benefits one receives in this world, one has to make sure that none of them are at the unfair expense of someone else.

The result described in our Torah portion: “And it came to pass on the third day, when they are in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each man took his sword, and they came upon the city confidently and killed every male”. (Genesis 34:25)

Simeon and Levi are called “men”. The two were thirteen at the time. Thus, it’s clear that at thirteen years old, boys (girls at the age of 12) are already considered adults. This is the age at which Noahide becomes responsible for their commandments. From this point on, they are bound by the divine commandments of the Torah. The destruction of the city of Shechem by Shimon and Levi was in retaliation for the rape of Dinah. Fulfilling the 7 Noahide commandments could have saved the entire city of Shechem. In our days, it might save the entire world.

Every human being is an agent of G-d, entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the world to its perfection by showing that the world is G-d’s dwelling place. The Seven Universal Noahide Laws apply to all humanity. They are the only secure foundation upon which to build a proper society and happier life for everyone. Our efforts to spread the awareness of G-d and his directives throughout the world will hurry the coming of the age of Mashiach.


Rabbi Moshe Bernestein is a writer and a Community Rabbi in Netanya, Israel. He believes in making connections between the Jewish People and the Noahides worldwide in order to share and enhance the knowledge of the Torah's Universal Code for Humanity and fulfil Isaiah's Prophecy 11:9 " And the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the oceans".


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