Tuesday, February 06, 2007


It seems that a major dust-up has developed in the comments box of a thread below. I have been accused of slander because of a weblog I linked that discussed the Noahide Laws and consequences of breaking them. Slander is an accusation of untruth.

Does the Jewish community promote the Noahide Laws?

Root & Branch, a Jewish community, promotes them. Read there the law concerning Idolatry and the system of justice to be applied for breaking these laws:

If the worship of entities other than the Creator had not been forbidden by His express command, then people would be free to choose what to worship, just as they choose their own personal friends. However the whole area of relations between humanity and its Creator has been placed under specific requirements, namely that only His truth and unity should be the subject of belief, worship and philosophy. His revelation has two levels, the one in nature for ordinary reckoning, and the other
through prophecy on Mount Sinai for the moral law. All non-Jews derive their true religious fulfillment from this latter source, and any reference to an intermediary causes error and loss of morality. There is no need for non-Jews to form associations for Noachide observance and prayer, but they may do so if
they wish.

System of justice

The non-Jewish nations of the world are commanded to avoid the state of anarchy by assuming and exercising the sovereign jurisdiction, to maintain courts that punish offenders by due process of law, and that provide civil redress in society. The Noachide Laws themselves form the basis of the criminal code, but each nation may make civil laws as it sees fit within the general guidelines. This provision
does not apply within the Land of Israel, where the sovereign power is in the hands of the Jewish people, and they judge non-Jews of any nationality living or visiting there under these same Noachide Laws.

Corporations are held in being by the sovereign power through the enactment of corporate law, which is empowered by this commandment. The sovereign power is responsible for regulating these corporations in the public interest, and ensuring their conformity with all aspects of the law. Thus Communism and Fascism are in breach of the spiritual law because of their lack of this regulation.
Non-Jews are obligated to seek reconciliation rather than take their disputes straight to court, and this in turn obligates them to give charitable donations to the needy so as to foster reconciliation in general.

The Rabbis of the Talmud say, 'War comes to the world through the delay of justice, the perversion of justice, and the teaching of Torah out of accordance with its legal meaning.' When all processes of law are rectified in this way, with good government applied to sustain them, functioning in Divine integrity, then grievances are properly handled and true peace emerges into the light of day. This is among the
recognitions of the United States Congress in its Declaration endorsing the Noachide Laws (H.J. Res. 104, Public Law 102-14, March 1990 and subsequently), based on long historic understanding of the Jewish people and the Torah.
(bolding mine - ct)

It is hardly slander to say that the Jewish community promotes the Noachide Laws when they make it this obvious.

Or is it the negativity expressed about Jesus Christ that appears in the website that is objected to?

The website that is causing the objections quotes Maimonides, and I have included the quote in my blog. The passage accuses Jesus of Nazareth and his students of causing difficulty to the Jews and swaying the people away from God. Was Maimonides opposed to Jesus Christ? A passage from Wikipedia attributed to Maimonides and taken from the Epistle to Yemen indicates he was:

After that there arose a new sect which combined the two methods, namely, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and religion. It, therefore, resolved to lay claim to prophecy and to found a new faith, contrary to our Divine religion, and to contend that it was equally God-given. Thereby it hoped to raise doubts and to create confusion, since one is opposed to the other and both supposedly emanate from a Divine source, which would lead to the destruction of both religions. For such is the remarkable plan contrived by a man who is envious and querulous. He will strive to kill his enemy and to save his own life, but when he finds it impossible to attain his objective, he will devise a scheme whereby they both will be slain.

The first one to have adopted this plan was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust. He was a Jew because his mother was a Jewess although his father was a Gentile. For in accordance with the principles of our law, a child born of a Jewess and a Gentile, or of a Jewess and a slave, is legitimate. (Yebamot 45a). Jesus is only figuratively termed an illegitimate child. He impelled people to believe that he was a prophet sent by God to clarify perplexities in the Torah, and that he was the Messiah that was predicted by each and every seer. He interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment, to the abolition of all its commandments and to the violation of its prohibitions. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him.

We don't desire that those we approve of have their bones ground to dust.

Wikipedia's entry for "Idolatry in Judaism" includes the following statement:

Among the three cardinal sins for which the penalty was death, idolatry stood first (Talmud Pes. 25a and parallels).

Has this passage from the Talmud been rescinded? Superseded? Reinterpreted?

According to the Wiki article:

Maimonides, however, goes further in defining idolatry than other Jewish thinkers before or since; he states that it is idolatry to hold that God is subject to any affections at all. Not only believing that God has a body, but merely believing "that one of the states of the body belong to Him, you provoke His jealousy and anger, kindle the fire of his wrath, and are a hater, an enemy and an adversary of God, much more so than an idolator."

If the penalty for idolatry is death, what is the penalty for something worse than idolatry?

Next turn to the Jewish Encyclopedia for the entry on "Beheading" and this passage:

According to rabbinical opinion, Beheading was one of the accepted modes of execution in the Bible (Mishnah Sanh. vii. 1). Murder and idolatry (when committed by a whole city, Deut. xiii. 14) were the crimes punishable with Beheading (Mishnah Sanh. ix. 1; Mek., Mishpa?im, 4; Sifre, Deut. 94). Punishing a slave so severely that death followed within twenty-fourhours, was accounted murder; and the guilty master was punished capitally (Mek., Mishpa?im, 7).

Finally turn to the Liberal Judaism Mailing List where this entry can be found:

From: Mark Solomon
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 15:18:36 +0100
Subject: Noachide Laws

The chief source in rabbinic literature for the Noachide Laws is the
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a (bottom)-60a. This lengthy discussion is
based on a baraita (a teaching from the mishnaic period but not in the
Mishnah) which is also found, in a somewhat different form, at the end of
Tosefta Avodah Zarah, ch. 9. The main post-talmudic authority to deal with the
Noachide Laws is Maimonides, who codifies them in great detail in Mishneh
Torah, Hilkhot Melakhim 8:10-10:6.

Even a superficial study of these sources reveals a law code of such
incredibly draconian strictness that it is quite inconceivable that it could
ever be put into practice, as even the Rabbis who framed it must have been
well aware.

One example of this strictness will have to suffice. The Rabbis rule that, in
Noachide law, unlike Jewish law, there is only one judicial penalty
avaiable--death by beheading (although there was a dissenting opinion that
strangling was the method to be used). Every single infraction of a Noachide
commandment is punishable by death, and again unlike Jewish law, no prior
warning is needed and one witness is sufficient (Maimonides, ibid., 9:14).

Today we do not hear of anyone being beheaded. We do not hear of the Noahide Laws being the law of the land despite the congressional action. But what of tomorrow? What if the Noahide Laws become the standard of law for a world court or a world government? How will Christians fare under such a system? How will those who cling to Christ be treated if idolatry becomes punishable by death by beheading as the Noachide Laws dictate?

To ask these questions is hardly slander when the information is available from the sources I've linked here. It is a legitimate right of a Christian to question discussions of Noahide Laws, particularly given that the U.S. Congress has already adopted a resolution citing them. If these laws are to become a standard governing moral behavior, it must be made very clear that Christianity does not fall under the penalty for idolatry. I have seen no indication anywhere that such a provision is being incorporated in the discussions.

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