B'nei Noah

B'nei Noah (Hebrew: בני נוח) or Children of Noah or Noahides is a modern monotheistic movement which observes the Seven Laws of Noah. According to Jewish law, non-Jews are not obligated to convert to Judaism, but they are required to observe the Seven Laws of Noah.

Technically, the Hebrew term "B'nei Noah" applies to all non-Jews as descendants of Noah. However, nowadays it is also used to refer specifically to those non-Jews who observe the Noahide Laws.

Theological background

According to the Hebrew Bible, all humanity are descendants of Noah. Noah and his three children Shem, Ham, and Japheth survived the Flood aboard the Ark, along with their wives. Once the survivors were able to leave the ark for dry ground, they began to start new families and repopulate the earth. When Noah's family left the Ark, God made a covenant with them. According to the Talmud, this covenant included the Seven Laws of Noah. Thus, to the B'nei Noah, all living humans, as descendants of Noah, are subject to the Noahide laws — although Jews as the chosen people have further responsibilities placed on them.

Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, or the Rambam) collected all of the talmudic and halachic decisions in his time and laid them out clearly in his work the Mishnah Torah; in addition to Jewish Laws and their explanations, Noachide Laws were also collected with their explanation in the Rambam’s work in "Sefer Shoftim" in the last book "Hilchot Melachim U’Milchamot", portions of which are available in English online [cite web | url = http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Maimonides%27_Law_of_Noahides | title = Maimonides’ Law of Noahides | work = WikiNoah] .

The Seven Laws of Noah

The seven laws listed by the Talmud are [Sanhedrin 56] :
# Requirement to have just Laws: To set up an effective government to police the other six laws.
# Prohibition of Blasphemy: Not to curse God's name, and not to put faith in magical arts or omens.
# Prohibition of Idolatry: Not to manufacture or worship idols.
# Prohibition of Sexual Immorality: Not to commit adultery, practice bestiality, incest or male-male anal sex.
# Prohibition of Murder: Not to take human life.
# Prohibition of Theft: Not to steal or otherwise take another's possessions, and not to kidnap.
# Prohibition of eating the limb of a living animal.

Modern movement

A modern movement known as the B'nei Noah or B'nei Noach has appeared in which members endeavour to follow the Noahide Laws.

Orthodox Judaism does not usually promote conversion to Judaism but does, on the other hand, believe that the Jewish people have a duty to help establish the Noahide Laws, based on Maimonides. Some Jewish groups have been particularly active in promoting the Seven Laws, notably the Chabad-Lubavitch movement (whose late leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, launched the global Noahide Campaign), groups affiliated with Dor Daim, and strict students of Maimonides.

Small groups calling themselves the B'nei Noah (children of Noah) have recently organised themselves to form communities to abide by these laws and lead their lives with morality. The High Council of B'nei Noah is particularly reflective of an apparent success at forming ties with Orthodox Judaism and Observant Noahides. There are several very different approaches within Judaism to B'nei Noah, [cite web | url = http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Approaches | title = Approaches | work = WikiNoah] and in recent years tens of publications [cite web | url = http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Publications | title = Publications | work = WikiNoah] and websites [cite web | url = http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Websites | title = Websites | work = WikiNoah] have appeared.

Some of their organizations include:

United Noahide Academies

The United Noahide Academies was launched in 1995 as a project of Chabad Lubavitch. It is patterned after a "university" where students have an opportunity for in-depth learning based on selected materials provided online at their website. [cite web | url = http://asknoah.org | title = Ask Noah] . Many authorities require someone interested in Noahidism to declare their intent before a Rabbinical court. With the UNA, students of Noahide Law may request to present a noahide declaration at a UNA recommended "Beis Din," in person, by mail or by email after successful completion of several introductory courses. [cite web | url = http://www.asknoah.org/AcademyInfo.html | title = Academy Info | work = Ask Noah]

High Council of B’nei Noah

A High Council of B’nei Noah was endorsed on January 10, 2006 by a group established in Israel in 2004 that claims to be 'the new Sanhedrin'; this Council was set up to represent B'nei Noah communities around the world. [ [http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=90646 Sanhedrin Moves to Establish Council For Noahides] ] [ [http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=96347 Arutz Sheva] ]

United Noahide Council

In April 2006, Noahide leader Billy Jack Dial founded a noahide council called the "United Noachide Council, Inc." to serve the needs of Noachides worldwide. [cite web | url = http://www.wikinoah.org/UNC | title = United Noachide Council | work = WikiNoah] It was the second council to be formed in conjunction with the Jerusalem Court for Bnei Noah [ [http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/legal/psak5767Cheshvon16a.html Recognition of Noahide Councils by the Sanhedrin, and the Court for Bnei Noah] ] [ [http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/bneinoah/ TheSanhedrin.org: Bnei Noah, the Sanhedrin's relationship with non-Jews] ]

Holy Fellowship International

Holy Fellowship International is a Noahide movement which unlike most other Noahide organizations, disclaims any association with Jewish organizations. Holy Fellowship International stresses adherence to the Seven Laws of Noah and support for the local community. Their official doctrine states that they owe no allegiance to Jews unless their members actually live in Israel and that Israel has an operating Beis Hamikdash, is ruled by a king and has an operating Sanhedrin. It is believed that Holy Fellowship International was formed by disgruntled members of another Noahide organization who thought that too much emphasis was being placed on reverence for Jews.

B'nei Noah in popular media

Chabad-Lubavitch has been the most politically active in Noahide matters, believing that there is spiritual value to non-Jews by even just acknowledging the seven laws. In 1989 they had a reference to these laws enshrined in a congressional proclamation: Presidential Proclamation 5956 [cite web | url = http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=23514 | title = Presidency | publisher = UCSB] , then-President George H. W. Bush, recalling Joint House Resolution 173, and recalling that the ethical and moral principles of all civilizations come in part from the Seven Noachide Laws, proclaimed April 16, 1989 and April 6, 1989 as "Education Day, U.S.A." Subsequently, Public Law 102-14, formally designated the Lubavitcher Rebbe's birthday as "Education Day, U.S.A.", with Congress recalling that "without these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos", and that "society is profoundly concerned with the recent weakening of these principles that has resulted in crises that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society". [cite web | url = http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c102:H.J.RES.104.ENR: | title = Thomas | publisher = LoC]

In April 2006, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, met with a representative of Chabad-Lubavitch to sign a declaration calling on all non-Jews in Israel to observe the Noahide Laws as laid down in the Bible and expounded upon in Jewish tradition. The mayor of the Galilean city of Shefa-'Amr (Shfaram) — where Muslim, Christian and Druze communities live side by side — also signed the document. [cite web | url = http://www.arutzsheva.com/news.php3?id=56379 | title = Arutzsheva]

In March 2007, Chabad-Lubavitch gathered ambassadors from six different countries came to take part in a gathering to declare in the name of the states they represent, their support of the universal teachings of Noahide Laws. They represented; Poland, Latvia, Mexico, Panama, Ghana, and Japan, they were part of a special program organized by Harav Boaz Kali. [ [http://chabadjapan.org/blog_e/?p=3 Ambassadors Sign 7 Mitzvos Declaration] ]

In April, the Abu Gosh mayor Salim Jaber accepted the seven Noahide laws as part of a mass rally by Chabad at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3383967,00.html Arab mayor attends Chabad rally - Israel News, Ynetnews ] ]

In May, the newly elected president of France Nicolas Sarkozy met with a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, Dovid Zaoui, who presented him with literature on the universal teachings of the Noahide Laws [ [http://www.chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=8980 French President Sarkozy Discusses Sheva Mitzvos] ] .

References

External links

* [http://www.wikinoah.org Wikinoah: Online resource of history, halacha, publications, and websites concerning Bnei Noah]
* [http://www.asknoah.org/Academy.html United Noahide Academies — Torah for the Nations]
* [http://program.ouradio.org/audio/savitsky/atdrt_36.mp3 OU Radio show on Bnei Noah — The Jew, The Minister and The Bnei Noah]
* [http://video.google.ca/videosearch?q=bnai+Noach Bnei Noach Movement in the Media]
* [http://www.mishpacha.com/pdfrequest/1/152/86/ Magazine Coverage on the 7 Laws of Noah/Bnei Noah — Mishpacha Magazine]
* [http://www.okbns.org Noahide Prayerbook and other free Noahide literature]


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