Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us
The perfection of the world requires the spreading of the seven Noahide commandments

The Mitzvot of Non-Jews

The Mitzvot of Non-Jews

Beginner Beginner
 Email
The Mitzvot of Non-Jews
The perfection of the world requires the spreading of the seven Noahide commandments

G‑d "created the world that it might be settled". (Isaiah 45:18) This implies a level of civilized conduct, which can be achieved only when non-Jews also observe their mitzvot. Indeed, the perfection of the world that leads to the Messianic Era requires the spreading of the seven commandments that G‑d through the Torah provided for all the nations of the world.

These are the Seven Noahide Laws, as enumerated in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a:

  1. carry out justice - An imperative to pursue and enforce social justice, and a prohibition of any miscarriage of justice.
  2. no blasphemy - Prohibits a curse directed at the Supreme Being.
  3. 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.
  4. no illicit intercourse - Prohibits adultery, incest, homosexual intercourse and bestiality, according to Torah definitions.
  5. no homicide - Prohibits murder and suicide. Causing injury is also forbidden.
  6. no theft - Prohibits the wrongful taking of another's goods.
  7. 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.

The authority of these laws derives from the verse, "And the Lord G‑d commanded it upon the man…" (Gen. 2:16). They were given again to the nations of the world through the teachings of Moses at Marah (Ex. 15:25-16), but are known by the name of Noah because they first became fully applicable in his time, when meat-eating became permitted. The Seven Commandments are equiva­lent to the seven lower sefirot

Jews who ask what their attitude towards their non-Jewish friends should be can be shown a complete formulation for non-Jewish integrity and well-being, which can be applied wherever they live. These principles may be taught freely to all non-Jews who encounter them.

In Kabbala and Chassidut, the Seven Commandments are equiva­lent to the seven lower sefirot. The ten sefirot, through which G‑d made the world and man, are divided into three "intellectual" attributes: Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (chochma, bina, and daat), and seven "emotional" ones: Kindness, Might, Beauty, Eternity, Glory, Foundation and Sovereignty (chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod and malchut). The three intellectual attributes are associated with the Jewish people who provide the legal and spiritual interpretations of the Seven Laws to the descendants of Noah. Each law parallels one of the seven "emotional" sefirot.

Sexual misconduct is the perversion of love, and is related to chesed. Sexual transgression disrupts G‑d's love for us and harms people in their love-capacity, while permitted sexual relations are cherished in Heaven, and facilitate divine influence throughout creation.

Murder is the perversion of strength and power, and corresponds to gevura.

Theft is the destruction of harmony in human relationships, and corresponds to tiferet, the harmonious blend of kindness and might which enables social balance. In a world where questions of business morality are at the top of the agenda, this commandment fosters ethical conduct in an area where it is sorely needed.

Idolatry and Blasphemy correspond respectively to netzach and hod, which are often paired together as the two supports of faith. Idolatry is a violation of divine rulership, and blasphemy of divine love. Since G‑d's rulership and His love are inseparable, each in turn facilitating the other, so too these two commandments support and enhance each other. G‑d alone is to be worshipped, directly and with­out any conjoining or intermediary, and He alone desires and hears prayer out of His love for all mankind. War comes to the world through the delay of justice…

Eating a limb from a living animal corresponds to the sefira of yesod, associated with the reproductive drive. The link be­tween eating and sexuality is well-known. The eating of living meat fosters the purely rapacious aspect of both eating and sexual relations. It adds to the desire for purely exploitative sexual relations which resemble eating, since such food contains the actual "heat of life" which arouses selfish passions. Sexual rapaciousness and cruelty of all kinds are rectified by abstaining from living meat as defined by the Torah. This in turn inspires gentle and respectful practices, such as those directed towards maintaining the environment.

A functioning judicial system corresponds to malchut, the lowest sefira, which rules in supremacy but is selflessly devoted to public service. This is the responsibility of good government. Our sages state, "War comes to the world through the delay of justice, the perversion of justice, and the teaching of Torah not in accordance with Jewish Law". (Avot 5:8) When both Jews and non-Jews can learn Torah without distortion of its halachic (Jewish legal) meaning, true peace becomes possible. This includes recognition of the principle that Jews can be judged only according to Torah law, no matter where in the world, and that non-Jews in Eretz Yisrael are considered according to the Seven Noahide Laws by the Jews there, with no sovereign jurisdiction of their own.

A complete guide to the 7 basic laws can be found in the Encyclopedia Talmudit, under "Ben Noach". A philosophical understanding is available in 'The Seven Laws of Noah', by Aaron Lichtenstein. See also, the U.S. Congressional Declaration: H. J. Res. 104, Public Law 102-14, March 20, 1991; and the talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Shabbat Beshalach 5743/1983.

Yermeyahu Bindman moved to Israel from his native England in 1979. He is the author of Lord George Gordon (the 18th century English convert), "Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto - His Life and Works," and of 'The Seven Colors of the Rainbow", a book-length explanation of the concepts in the above article.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
20 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Reuven Passaic November 4, 2016

1. Why isn't the law to be fruitful and mulitply not included?
2. Could you please put response to Ania as far as where these laws are clearly spelled out in Bible?
3. responding to Ania- the Sabbath was commanded exclusively to Jewish People at Mount Sinai- the 10 commandments were the "Chapter Headings" if you will, for 613 commandments given to the Jewish People. It clearly says its a personal "Brit" or covenant between G-d and His Chosen people, the same way males are given a "Brit" as the sign of His covenant as well. Reply

Jason Hodge November 26, 2015

after Noah isn't everyone a Jew how can there be laws for non-jews if everyone was killed and only noah and his family survived? Reply

Anonymous USA April 29, 2015

The mitzvot of Non Jews Thank you for your explanation. I was told that the Noahide laws did not exist. It is so refreshing to read about this amazing teaching, I find that all about Hashem's, blessed be He, statutes and teachings are so amazing, and love it more and more everyday. I am waiting for His promises of reuniting us all from the four corners of the world back to His mountain... Although I am not recognized yet as a jewess, but the Holy One, blessed be He, promised me otherwise. I love my people, brothers, and sisters, and pray for our redemption every day. Peace to Yisrael. Reply

Webmaster Tzefat, Israel via kabbalaonline.org April 29, 2015

Re: It is expressed more clearly in the subtitle above the paragraph and in the list of the 7Laws: Not to eat from a living animal--that is, do not bite into it or cut off a piece of it while it is still alive.
Most authorities extend this to cooking it while it is still alive, as I understand is done with lobsters and some shellfish. Reply

rut Mesa, AZ April 15, 2015

The Mitzvot of Non-Jews What exactly is the "living meat"? This is a term I do not understand, although I do not eat pork, any meat, only fish and eggs, mostly, with vegetables and grains. Can you give a short explanation of what this 'meat' is? Thank you for your kindness.




Reply

Shanti North West UK via chabad.org.uk April 13, 2015

Thank you so much for explaining these in a way which correspond to positive actions we can carry out and to G-d's character and attributes. It is something I have felt but not always able to put my finger on. The article goes further than the a basic explanation so it elevates us to deepen our relationship with G-d. Reply

Anonymous USA October 13, 2014

The Mitzvots of Non Jews How ironic...a Rabbi told me that these laws did not exist! I was censored/expelled from being taught because of asking about the Noahide Laws. There are some Rabbis in Chabad.org that do not have any patience at all. Thank you for showing me today that I was right to ask about this subject. There is so much I want/need to know about Him, blessed be He. Reply

Ania McElroy Alta loma September 23, 2014

7 laws of Noah are nowhere in Torah . G-d commended everybody to observe sabbath : before, at and after Sinai . Reply

Gutman Locks Jerusalem August 21, 2014

To clarify: no one is allowed to eat meat that was taken from an animal while that animal was alive, even if that animal is now dead. That meat is still forbidden. Reply

Anonymous USA August 4, 2013

The Mitzvot of Non Jews It does not give the law of Koshering meat. And can they eat all kind sea food? The majority of people do. I thought that everyone was not to eat these things. Reply

Webmaster Tzefat, Israel via kabbalaonline.org August 1, 2013

Re: Paul, Italy The meaning of the words is that you must not eat it while it is still alive. It could be that it also applies to not starting to cook it while it is still alive. Reply

Paul Italy, Italy via kabbalaonline.org August 1, 2013

Eating a limb from a living animal Every animal is living before being killed to be eaten, so I was wondering how can be this applied to this commandment. Is it right to eat animals according to this? I do eat animals but I've always wondered on this topic. Thanks to whoever will answer me. Reply

Anonymous June 16, 2013

The first 6 Laws were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden on the day he was created. As such, they applied directly to Adam and his descendants.
"And the L-rd G-d commanded" alludes to the prohibition of Idolatry and Blasphemy, as only the L-rd G-d has the authority to command upon the man, and man is not supposed to worship any other entity except from G-d, and has to respect Him.
The fact that G-d gave them permission to eat from the fruits of the Garden alludes to the prohibition against Theft (the owner has first to give His permission) etc. The other prohibitions can also be derived from this verse.

For more kosher information on the 7 Laws of Noah, visit www.AskNoah.org

Meanwhile there is a Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch for Bnei Noah) with the laws of the Non-Jews which is called Sefer Sheva Mitzvoth HaShem, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner. The English edition is called "The Divine Code". Reply

Anonymous ny June 1, 2013

Gay rights? The more this county.and world for that matter, continues to change marriage laws to include gay marriage as normal and sanctified .....the more God will disappear from our world. If people knew the ramifications of changing laws of marriage to include these people...it never would have passed. Sodom and Gomorrah would have been happy to be around in today's world. Reply

Anonymous December 26, 2012

Re: Authority Those laws have nothing to do with Adam and Eve. Remember that all living beings, except those on Noah's ark, were destroyed in the flood. All of human kind comes from after the flood. Reply

Katrina California November 22, 2012

noachide commandments the commandments were given to Noach after the flood not to Adam and Eve. go to 9:1 one question it says "4. But, flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat."that would mean non Jews are also commanded not to eat blood correct? Reply

Anonymous New Glasgow, NS, Canada January 15, 2011

Re: Re: Authority How is your answer even relevant to my question, since I never even mentioned The Tree of Life, David? Reply

Sandra Johnson demotte, Indiana January 11, 2011

Open the doors that the world may have light These precepts need to be revealed to the righteous living now. The world needs to move closer to union with these concepts to be healed.
Darkness to light, is it not how creation began? Reply

David Flinkstein London, UK December 15, 2010

Re Authority The Tree of Life was not a seed bearing plant. Reply

Anonymous New Glasgow, NS, Canada October 9, 2010

Authority How is authority for the noahide laws derived from Genesis 2:16? If you read the WHOLE verse, you find out that God is giving permission to eat of every tree in the garden. The next verse gives the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I'm just trying to understand the derivation. Reply

Related Topics

The larger, bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source.

The smaller, plain text is the explanation of the translator/editor.
Text with broken underline will provide a popup explanation when rolled over with a mouse.

This page in other languages