Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)
A part of the Torah Portion:
“For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.” (30:12-14)
A practical point from this Parasha that also has meaning for Noahides is the above part of the Parasha from this week.
The simple meaning of the word mitzvah is command. It appears in various forms with that meaning about 300 times in the Five Books of Moses. It generally refers to the 613 Divine commandments to the Jewish people, things G-d wants them to do or not do.
Noahides also have there mitzvot. These mitzvot are necessary to make the world a habitable society with civilized conduct.
These are the Seven Noahide Laws [and there details].
Carry out justice - An imperative to pursue and enforce social justice, and a prohibition of any miscarriage of justice. Positively put: care for a just society
No blasphemy - Prohibits a curse directed at the Supreme Being. Positively stated: Respect G-d and His Name.
No idolatry - Prohibits the worship of any human or any created thing. Also prohibited is the making of idols and involvement with the occult. This necessitates an understanding of the One G‑d of Israel and His nature. Positively stated: Knows G-d
No illicit intercourse - Prohibits adultery, incest, homosexual intercourse and bestiality, according to Torah definitions. Positively stated: Respect family life.
No homicide - Prohibits murder and suicide. Causing injury is also forbidden. Positively stated: Respect life.
No theft - Prohibits the wrongful taking of another's goods. Positively stated: Respect the possessions of others.
Don't eat a limb of a living creature . Promotes the kind treatment of animal life. It also encourages an appreciation for all kinds of life and respect for nature as G‑d's creation. Positively stated: Respect animals.
In Hebrew, the word mitsvah also means a good deed. So when you help someone, listen to someone, give someone a kind word, support them financially, etc. The seven mitzvot give direction on how to do good deeds.
For example: Having respect for animals, teaches us that we should give them enough water to drink. That is a good deed. Respecting human life, teaches us that we should help someone who is sick and all ways of helping are mitzvot.
The 7 mitzvot are all logical in nature, that is, deep down each person knows how to behave. With our mouth it is easy to say a kind word to our neighbor. Our emotions should make it easy for us to have empathy for someone in need which excites us to help. And with our hands we should turn our thoughts and our words into actions.
Despite the 7 mitzvot being logical people sometimes listen to their earthly physical egoistic needs which causes them to not perform the mitzvot. Noahides have the Commandment to know G-d. This knowing will grow more and more into love and awe. This love and awe will lead to performing the mitzvot becoming more and more a second, or rather, a first nature.
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a
Chabad article: Nitzavim in a Nutshell
Chabad article: Mitsvah
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