Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32 )
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GOOD MORNING! A woman once made an appointment to meet with Rabbi Ya'akov Weinberg, of blessed memory, who was the Rosh HaYeshiva (head) of Yeshivat Ner Yisroel. Asked the woman, "Must I buy Kosher meat?" Rabbi Weinberg was puzzled. If the woman was Jewish and knew enough to know that there is Kosher meat (meat from an animal that chews its cud, has split hoofs and is slaughtered in the manner dictated by the Torah and properly salted to draw out the blood - unless the meat was going to be barbecued which does not require salting as the fire draws out the blood), why was she asking him, an Orthodox rabbi, whether she should observe this mitzvah? If, on the other hand, she wasn't Jewish, why would she even ask this question?
So, like all good rabbis, Rabbi Weinberg answered her question with a question to clarify: "Why do you ask whether you should buy Kosher meat?"
Responds the woman, "I understand that one of the 7 Noahide Commandments is not to eat meat removed from an animal while it is still alive (a common practice in the ancient world where there was no refrigeration). I have heard that in most slaughtering houses they use stun guns to kill the animals. Perhaps they start cutting up the animals before they are actually dead?"
I do not know how non-Kosher meat is slaughtered today or if stun guns are still used. I do know how the woman happened to come to Rabbi Weinberg. Her Jewish roommate at college was given a copy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's magnificent work Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances. Her roommate never read the book; she did.
The above story is a long way around to writing about the 7 Noahide Commandments which are also known as the 7 Universal Commandments. Tradition has it that the laws were actually given to Adam and Chava (Eve) the first day (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Idolatry, chapter 9, law 1). They were reaffirmed after the flood ("As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you" - Genesis 9:8) and are an intrinsic part of the Divine Revelation on Mt. Sinai. They are called the "7 Laws of the Children of Noah" or "7 Noahide Commandments" - because after the flood EVERYONE is a descendent of Noah.
From the Jewish experience our history is filled with other nations telling us to convert to their religion and all will be well ... however, there was usually a caveat about "or else" that followed the "offer" to convert us. The Jewish people, however, always maintained that you don't have to be Jewish - either to eat Levy's rye bread or to have a portion in the World to Come.
If a non-Jew recognizes that there is a God Who commands all non-Jews to keep the 7 Noahide Commandments (which are categories for additional commandments) ... and he observes the commandments, he is guaranteed a place in the World to Come, Heaven. What are the 7 Noahide Commandments?
- Do not murder. (Human life is sacred; it can only be taken with legal sanction.)
- Do not steal. (Respect the rights and property of others.)
- Do not worship false gods. (Only the Almighty is the Creator, Sustainer, Supervisor and can answer prayers.)
- Do not be sexually immoral. (Wife of another man, male homosexuality, incest and bestial relations are out.)
- Do not eat the limb of an animal before it is killed. (Do not be cruel to animals.)
- Do not curse God. (Speech is unique to humans; using it to express ingratitude is wrong. Gossip, obscenity and lies are also forbidden under this commandment.)
- Set up courts and bring offenders to justice. (Society cannot exist in anarchy; due process is required.)
There is a growing movement of Noahides. One can learn more via the internet. For a list of sites: http://www.rb.org.il/links.htm. Two good books: The Path of the Righteous Gentile: Introduction to the 7 Laws of the Children of Noah by Chaim Clorfene & Rabbi Yakov Rogalsky, and The Seven Colors of the Rainbow: Torah Ethics for Non-Jews by Rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman (there is an allusion that the 7 colors of the rainbow refer to 7 Noahide Laws in verse "And God said, '... My bow I am placing in the cloud and it shall be for a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth'" [Gen. 9:12,13]. Both available at judaicaenterprises.com or 877-758-3242).
For more on "7 Noahide Laws" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The story of one righteous man in an evil generation. The Almighty commands Noah to build the ark on a hill far from the water. He built it over a period of 120 years. People deride Noah and ask him, "Why are you building a boat on a hill?" Noah explains that there will be a flood if people do not correct their ways. We see from this the patience of the Almighty for people to correct their ways and the genius of arousing people's curiosity so that they will ask a question and hopefully hear the answer.
The generation does not do Teshuva, returning from their evil ways, and God brings a flood for 40 days. They leave the ark 365 days later when the earth has once again become habitable. The Almighty makes a covenant and makes the rainbow the sign of the covenant that He will never destroy all of life again by water (hence, James Baldwin's book, The Fire Next Time). When one sees a rainbow it is an omen to do Teshuva - to recognize the mistakes you are making in life, regret them, correct them/make restitution, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged as well as from the Almighty.
Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and then occurs the mysterious incident in the tent after which Noah curses his grandson, Canaan. The Torah portion concludes with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy from Shem to Abram.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And God said to Noah: 'The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with corruption (chomos).' " (Genesis 6:13)
Rabbi Yochanan said, "Come and see the power of corruption. The generation of the flood violated everything, but the final decree against them was not signed until they were guilty of stealing" (Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 108a).
Rabbi Alexander Ziskind explained the severity of stealing in the following manner: When one steals a few dollars from another person, he is actually causing more damage than might initially appear. The victim might have invested the money and received a profit, and when his children would have inherited his money, they too could have gained profit from it. The same with their children and children's children until the end of time. This could amount to a fortune and ultimately the thief will be judged in the heavenly court for this accounting. We must realize the gravity of stealing even small sums and resolve to keep far away from this crime.
The Midrash defines the term chomos, found in this verse, as stealing less than the value of a prutah, an amount so monetarily insignificant that courts do not force a thief who has only stolen this amount to return it.
In Noah's generation, when a person would take out a box full of beans to sell, someone would come along and grab less than a prutah's worth. Then another would do the same, and then another; and although the victim would be left without any beans, he could not take anyone to court for the thefts. (Braishis Rabba 30). This was done publicly and condoned.
Our lesson: When you're in a fruit store don't sample the grapes -without permission!
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 4:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:15 Hong Kong 5:27 Honolulu 5:36
J'Burg 6:07 London 4:10 Los Angeles 4:40
Melbourne 7:39 Mexico City 5:43 Miami 5:21
New York 4:32 Singapore 6:33 Toronto 4:47
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Your purpose is the essence of who you are.
-- Idelette Van Papendorp
Congratulations on the