16:08 Jan 10, '06 / 10 Tevet 5766 - By Ezra HaLevi
A group of non-Jewish delegates have come to <?xml:namespace
prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"
/>Jerusalem to pledge their loyalty to the Laws of Noah. They
appeared before the nascent Sanhedrin, which established a High
Council for B'nai Noach.
The ten delegates appeared before a special session of the Jewish
High Court of 71 Rabbis led by its Nassi (President) Rabbi
Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. B'nai Noach, literally "Children
of Noah," also known as Noahides, are non-Jews who take
upon themselves the Torah's obligations for all members of the
human race. The seven such laws were passed on via Noah following
the Flood, as documented in Genesis (see below).
The gathering took place under a banner quoting the Biblical
passage in Tzefania 3:9which refers to "all the nations...
speak[ing] a pure language... proclaim[ing] the name of G-d."
Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz addresses the Noahide Council
The Noahide delegates stood before the nascent Sanhedrin, which
was reestablished over a year ago in Tiberias, following the
of Biblical ordination, and has met regularly since then.
"Each one [of the B'nai Noach] comes with a name he has
made in the world, as a teacher and example in his community
of observance of the seven laws of Noah," said Rabbi Michael
Bar-Ron, the Sanhedrin's emissary who facilitated
the council's organization, introducing the delegates. "At
great physical and financial expense, they have flown across
the world to Jerusalem, the holy city, to pledge before the court
and all mankind, their allegiance to the Seven Laws of Noah,
the laws of the Creator."
B'nai Noah delegates sit before members of the nascent Sanhedrin
Each of the Noahide representatives stood before the Sanhedrin
"I pledge my allegiance to HaShem, G-d of Israel, Creator
and King of the Universe, to His Torah and its representatives,
the developing Sanhedrin. I hereby pledge to uphold the Seven
Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses
under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin. May HaShem bless
and aid me, my fellow council members and all B'nai Noach in
all our endeavors for the sake of His name. Blessed are You G-d,
King of the universe, who has caused me to live, sustained me,
and brought me to this day."
Ben Noah Roger Grattan pledges before the Sanhedrin
Roger Grattan, a council aide who lives in Maine, told Arutz-7
prior to the ceremony, "I am sure that this will be a paragraph
in the history of civilization, although one could also write
books on it. It is also the fulfillment of prophecy." The
core members of the council are Indian Foreign Relations Coordinator
Bud Gill, Billy Jack Dial, Andrew Overall, Adam Penrod, Jacob
Scharff, Chairman Larry Borntrager, Honorary Noahide Council
Elder Vendyl Jones, Tennessee Noahide Community Head Jack Saunders
and Council Speaker Jim Long.
Long addressed the rabbis of the court, requesting formal recognition
of the Noahide Council: "Your honor, esteemed rabbis of
the developing Sanhedrin. We are here because of your Torah.
Rabbis before you elevated the Torah and it drew us in; before
that, we stumbled in darkness. Everyone here today can tell you
that in the past we have experienced the need to consolidate
our efforts to make the world aware of the truth."
Rabbi Even-Israel Steinsaltz, on behalf of the Sanhedrin, replied:
"We hereby recognize these men as the first high council
of B'nai Noach in accordance with the conditions they have accepted
Rabbi Steinsaltz spoke about the role of the Jewish people in
bringing the Laws of Noah to the world:
"I am part of this Jewish family and I have nothing bad
to say about that family, but you don't go up to a man on the
street and ask him to join your family. Instead you talk to him
about joining the true belief in the Creator and about implementing
divine justice toward his fellow man. We are setting up a global
mission here â not to recruit people, but to
bring them to the realization that there is one G-d."
The Nassi explained that this aspect of Judaism lay dormant for
years, as the Jewish people dealt with remaining alive and keeping
the Torah in the exile.
Rabbi Steinsaltz called for an extensive project to be undertaken
to help B'nai Noah in the nitty-gritty details of the observance
of the religion. "A Shulhan Arukh [Jewish Law Code] for
B'nai Noah must be written so that the individual can have guidance
as to what to do," Steinzaltz said, referring to the compendium
of practical Jewish law written by Rabbi Yosef Karo of Tzfat
in the 1560's that is still used today.
He then addressed the ten B'nai Noah representatives, who had
endured hours of Hebrew speeches throughout the day, in English:
"There are those people, so far only a small number, who
say, 'We are bound by the covenant of Adam and the covenant of
Noah and we know we have to perform and fulfill our obligations.'
We, as Jews, have the same religion as you.
"Within the nation of Israel there is one tribe that deals
with the Temple â the priests. We Jews are
a specific tribe in the world that was chosen to be a tribe of
priests â hereditary priests. Because of this
we have special duties. Being a priest does not mean we are cut
off from the other people. While the people of the world are
all different units in the armies of the Lord, we are a special
commando unit that maybe doesn't get paid more, but has special
assignments that may be more dangerous."
Rabbi Even-Israel spoke about the difficulties that would confront
the B'nai Noah movement as it grows:
"When we are speaking in general, almost every human being
can more or less accept the laws of Noah, but when we get to
particulars we will come to serious points, at which we disagree
with Christianity and Islam.
"It is one thing when a religion is small, but as it gets
bigger there will be huge pressures. We will be there beside
you. We are members of the same religion that was given by the
Almighty to humanity. Part of it was given to the Jews and part
of it was given to humanity as a whole."
The Nassi added that while there are those who doubt the ability
of the Sanhedrin to be more than an idea leading up to the true
reestablished court, the Noahide Council cannot be doubted or
criticized due to its pure motives and unprecedented mission.
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of the Temple Institute said that although
Tuesday is the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, which commemorates
the beginning of the destruction, "Our sitting in Jerusalem
now, alongside B'nai Noach, demonstrates the revival and the
fulfillment of the words of the prophets." Rabbi Ariel told
those gathered that he had seen a rainbow that morning, "the
closest thing to seeing Noah himself - the symbol of the covenant
between G-d and humanity as witnessed by Noah."
Famed archaeologist and Noahide leader Vendyl Jones addressed
a festive banquet held for the Council members, speaking about
the Seven Laws of Noah. He explained, in detail, the verses in
the first eleven chapters of Genesis from which the seven laws
are elucidated, saying that he always understood the first six,
but never understood the law proscribing the eating of a limb
of a living animal - until he remembered his cattle-branding
days in Texas: "We would brand and castrate the cattle when
I was young, and at night we would all sit around the campfire
and eat what they called 'mountain oysters'" â
the testicles of the still-living animals.
Rabbi Nachman Kahane, Av Beit HaDin, spoke in English. "G-d
created a primitive world," he said. "We don't grow
loaves of bread, but grain that must be harvested, ground up
and baked. We were meant to be partners with G-d. Unfortunately,
throughout history, perversions of this idea grew. How can you
be G-d's partner if you are damned and born with original sin?
How can you be a partner of G-d if your religion tells you to
send your children to shopping malls to blow people up? What
we are creating today is a reconnection between the people and
G-d. G-d is saying to humanity â everyone has
a job. I happen to be a priest - I have a particular task for
when the Temple is built - but all of us have a specific task
just the same; I am no better."
Jones told Kahane that his brother, slain Knesset Member Rabbi
Meir Kahane, together with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, had organized
one of the first conferences for B'nai Noah nearly 20 years ago.
Conference on Noahide Council
Earlier in the day, several speakers addressed issues surrounding
the B'nai Noah movement as part of a conference on the establishment
of the B'nai Noah Council.
Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly,
addressed the assembly, speaking about B'nai Noah in Islam: "Islamic
law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught
correctly to the Muslims of the world... I remember reading that
a new Sanhedrin was created in Jerusalem [and] my impression
was very positive - I thought maybe something new had been created
to allow the Jewish people to project moral and legal clarity
to counterbalance the lack of it in our world."
Palazzi added that the project of creating a council of Noahide
teachers would hopefully counter the negative educational effect
of the Gaza withdrawal, "which taught the opposite to my
people - it convinced many that only terrorism works."
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini, who heads Yeshiva Or V'Yishuah and is
the rabbi of Haifa's Technion, spoke about the intuitive natural
truths of the laws of Noah. "We must create a formal connection
between the nation of Israel and the B'nai Noah to show the world
that we are a nation of holy priests, as is dictated in our Torah,"
he said, speaking partly in French as well, as the conference
will be available on the Sanhedrin's web site for viewing by
prospective B'nai Noah worldwide.
Member of the Noahide Council at the conference earlier in the
Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, who received the blessing of leading hareidi-religious
Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv to engage in the project of creating a
court and infrastructure for B'nai Noah, addressed the conference
as well. Rabbi Schwartz is the Deputy Av Beit HaDin [literally,
Court Elder] of the Sanhedrin and the Av Beit HaDin for the B'nai
Noah court. He spoke on the topic of "B'nai Noah and World
"The Islamic Jihad against the world has restored religion
to the center of the world's consciousness," Schwartz said.
"Over 30 years ago, someone by the name of Eisenberg sent
a proposal to the United Nations saying that there will never
be world peace unless the citizens of the globe agree on certain
principles of faith. It was adopted by the UN as one of its official
documents but was not followed up upon and has since been forgotten.
We are here today to follow up on that document and remind the
UN why it exists. There will be world peace when the whole world
agrees that there is one G-d. There are people who do not think
what I am about to say is worthwhile, but I suggested years ago
that we begin to translate our books, which are meant for the
nations of the world, into Arabic as well [Schwartz has authored
many books on practical observance for Noahides âed.].
It is not by coincidence that we have this nation alongside us,
surrounding and living inside the land upon our return to it,
who also preserves the heritage of Abraham our father."
Schwartz has indeed translated his books to Arabic, with the
help of an Arab man he met at a bus stop who asked him a Mishanaic
question, telling him he had already translated the Mishna, a
codification of Jewish oral law. He said the entire printing
has been sold out. "Muslim parents have thanked me for teaching
their child that there is a different way to heaven than becoming
a shahid, a martyr," he said.
Rabbi Schwartz explained that although one of the purposes of
the Jewish people's exile was to disseminate belief in the Torah's
truths around the world, their return to Israel has brought with
it the technology to redouble our efforts from here:
"The moment we came to Israel, communication technology
flourished. The telephone and radio spread rapidly, and computers
and internet came soon after, changing the entire concept of
communication and education. When we were in the exile, we were
there to teach the world, and now that we have returned to the
Land of Israel, G-d has given us the tools to do the work from
Rabbi David Zilbershlag, Director of Meir Panim and Koach Latet,
both innovative charity associations, spoke about rectifying
the misdeeds of Noah's generation, the generation of the Flood.
Zilbershlag said that the new Council of Noahides must focus
on kindness and charity, as that was the basis of G-d's covenant
with Noah (the lack of which resulted in the destruction of Noah's
entire generation) and His later covenant with Abraham.
"It is hard to distribute and spread an idea that is negative,
as the laws of Noah are phrased," Zilbershlag said. "We
must make a great effort to find and distribute the relevant
positive commandments in our tradition throughout the world as
well, and the most basic of these is that of following in the
footsteps of Abraham our father."
Rabbi Eliyahu Essas, a former refusenik and founder of the Teshuva
(return to Judaism) movement in the USSR, spoke about establishing
outreach within Israel to help gentiles who moved from the former
Soviet Union to Israel become aware of the Noahide laws:
"There are at least 400,000 out of the million people who
came to Israel who are not Jewish according to Jewish law. There
are many who think they are Jews, but do not have a Jewish mother
and are therefore not Jewish according to Jewish law. 150,000
have no blood connection to the nation of Israel â
spouses of Jews and relatives who came under the Law of Return.
Then there are 30,000 who have nothing to do with the Jewish
people, coming with forged documents. Over there, Jews wanted
to be Russians; here, Russians want to be Jews.
"Should we harass such a person to convert, should we leave
him alone, or should we try to get him to become a Ben Noah?"
Essas asked, refraining from offering answers and saying that
such complicated matters must be dealt with by both the Noahide
Council and the Sanhedrin's B'nai Noah Beit Din. He added that
the problem of intermarriage was not discussed by previous generations
because it did not exist in such numbers. "We are dealing
with 50% of families in the former Soviet Union and even more
in North America. So if one spouse is a Jew and one is a Ben
Noah, what will be their status? I want to raise these issues
and offer a prayer to the Almighty to help us find wise solutions."
Council Looking Forward
Spokesman Jim Long outlined the Council's goals:
"Education is a vital part of our effort and we need you
to help us with this. We need to make sure that developing Noahide
groups do not split into denominations. As we move into the public
eye, we will be viewed as heretics by many. We each come from
other religions and must develop ways to approach them in a manner
in which they listen without closing their ears. The Noahide
movement is a Torah-based template for an ethical way of life.
The Creator requires humanity to uphold these laws as per His
covenant with Noah.
Members of the B'nai Noah Council
"Anyone who reads the Bible can see that your Torah is your
constitution, your Bill of Rights and your deed to the Land of
Israel. We have plans to publish Noahide prayer books, children's
books and documentaries on science and the world through the
lens of the Torah."
"We have heard that G-d is with you," Long concluded.
For more information, the Council secretary can be contacted
The Seven Laws of Noah are:
Shefichat damim - Do not murder or commit suicide.
Avodah zarah - Pray and offer sacrifices only to G-d.
Do not worship false gods/idols.
Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (no incest,
sodomy, bestiality, castration and adultery), crossbreed animals
or perform castration.
Ever Min HaChai - Do not eat a part of a live animal or
Birkat Hashem - Do not utter G-d's name in vain, curse
G-d or pursue the occult. Honor your parents.
Gezel - Do not steal or kidnap.
Dinim - Set up righteous and honest courts and apply fair
justice in judging offenders and uphold the principles of the
Published: 22:43 January 09, 2006