Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Purpose of the 7 Laws – Part 2

In the first part we discussed the overall goal of the 7 laws and differentiated them from the 613 mitzvos for the Jew. I would like to continue on that and examine how this looks in the real world today.

If we look at the Noahide world today we see that there is little or no emphasis on acts that will make this world a better place. Attention is given to performing religious acts that do not further the purpose in creation for the non-Jew. There are a few reasons for that failure. Some are based on the Noahides themselves and their religious background and others on the Rabbis who are teaching Noahides.


In general Noahides have come out of the Christian church. They have recognized it as the false religion it is. But this is half of the battle that a Noahide faces. King David says: ‘Turn from evil and do good’. Leaving the Church starts the fulfilment of the first part of King David’s injunction, but that does nothing for the second part.

In the church they have been raised with ideas about Torah, Tenach and Judaism and what HaShem wants of people from that. The problem is that while the Tenach has much that can be useful for the non-Jew, it was not written for them nor is it about them. It is about HaShem’s interaction with the Jewish people, what He has done for them, and what they have done. It is not always the best guide for the non-Jew.

As an example; for the Jew the Exodus is about how his ancestors were freed from slavery, for the non-Jew it shows how HaShem is merciful and fulfills His word. This does not mean that there are not inspiring stories and universal truths, just that when it says ‘say to the children of Israel’, that is not universal.

As I pointed out in the first section there is a difference in what HaShem wants and expects of the Jew and the non-Jew. This is based on the difference in their purpose and goals in this world.


The Torah tells us that HaShem said to Avraham: ‘Leave your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house and go to the land I will show you.’ It says in the Jewish works of moral instruction that HaShem was telling Avraham that before he could come to the service of HaShem he needs to rid himself of the habits he had acquired in his youth. These are in three levels, and they can apply also to the Noahide.


First is ‘from your land’. This is the leaving of their false religions. This is the easiest and the first step for the Noahide. Noahides grow up in communities where Christianity is taken as a given, as absolute truth and from God. The Noahide has taken that first step of rejection of that falsehood.


The Second is ‘your birthplace.’ This refers to those ideas that underlie these false religions. For example, it is not uncommon for Noahides to carry over Christian thought patterns and approaches to the Noahide way of life. There are two areas where we see this:

Noahides are coming mostly from Evangelical backgrounds and are trained in Bible studies. They see regular Bible studies as a requirement of God for them. It involves certain ways of learning, but Christian Bible study is not Jewish learning of Torah. They see the study of Scripture and its interpretation as based on individual effort and knowledge. This is wrong.

In Torah all actions have a purpose. For the Noahide all religious learning is practical and goal oriented. The goal being to fulfil their purpose in this world. But learning the Tenach does not teach much about that. It is found more explicitly in the words of our Rabbis.

The basic laws for the Noahide are easily taught and I will in fact be writing short articles on each one telling what it is and how a Noahide can live their life in accordance with the specific law. But there is no mitzvah to learn for the Noahide as there is for the Jew. The spiritual benefit a Jew gets from learning is not enjoyed by the non-Jew.

A certain degree of learning is needed for the knowledge needed to live your life. But beyond that there is no obligation. (And in some cases it is forbidden.) And it certainly is not the primary function of the Noahides life. The Rabbinic dictum ‘it is not the learning but the action that is the main thing’ applies especially to the Noahides.

Second; coming from Christianity they see Judaism as a religion of rituals and ‘works’. They therefore see being a Noahide in the same light. Same system, different commandments.

This is contrary to what we have seen. There are no ritual requirements, nor any need of them. As to actions there are limited commands. It is not a ‘religion’ at all, nor does it require regular ‘study’.

However the Noahide who does understand what his or her purpose is will have a world outlook that requires certain actions which cannot be listed as the 7 or 613 mitzvos are listed. Actions which logically will lead to more peace and stability, and increase the well-being of the world, and especially the Jewish people.


Third is ‘from your father’s house’. This refers to certain approaches that a Noahide grew up with in his old religion, like Sola Scriptura, and individual autonomy. Egalitarianism and other things that are not consistent with Torah.

In the end the goal of the Noahide is very much like that of the Jew: fulfil HaShem’s will for him as a person and a Noahide.


In a sense, as Rabbis and teachers we have exacerbated the problem. While it is certainly the case that some of those involved have intentions other than to fulfil HaShem’s will, and spreading Torah to the world, most are not like that. We need to see why they have so far failed to impart to the Noahides the ideas I have outlined above, which are known to them. I think the problem comes from two things:

First, we are Jews. We understand our relationship to HaShem in a certain way. Our relationship to HaShem is through learning Torah and doing mitzvos. The mitzvos bring spiritual strength and benefits to our Nashamos, and learning Torah, which is also a mitzvah, connects us directly to the Will of HaShem. (As is know from the sefer Tanya of the Alter Rebbe ZT’L) The solution to our spiritual problems is more learning and more mitzvos, For the Noahide that is not the outlet for increased spirituality. There is a Chassidic saying that clearly applies to the Noahide and his spirituality: “The other persons physical needs are your spiritual needs”.

Second, we are people who are compassionate. When we are working with Noahides we recognize that they have, because of their leaving Christianity, a feeling of being lost and having no direction. We wish to fill their psychological and spiritual needs in ways that are consistent with Torah, and which the Noahide feels comfortable with.

Because of this we tend to concentrate on issues of what they can and cannot do, and not explaining the full picture. This is a disservice to the Noahides, and leads them to have a wrong outlook on what their purpose is and what they should be doing.


What are we doing wrong?

What we are doing wrong is obvious to anyone who steps back and examines the situation. Are Noahides out there improving our world? No. Why is that? Because as Rabbis we have them involved with learning intricate details in Jewish law and/or arguing about how many mitzvos apply to them or involvement in numerous other irrelevant things. What we don’t do is tell them how to practically apply things to their life. Ask a Noahide if they can go to the local Walmart and buy a whole non-kosher chicken, and they will be unsure.

We burden them with keeping holidays that don’t relate to them. Should they do this or that on Passover or Shabbos? But we don’t encourage them to help their fellow men and other things that ARE their mandate, and purpose in this world.

In a sense we are violating the Rambam and all the poskim in making what appears to be a new religion for non-Jews. Putting the emphasis on more learning and actions in imitation of Jewish mitzvos is not what we should be doing and saying. (I will discuss this at length late.)


What should we be doing?

I will in other articles deal with the halachic issues around not just the 7 mitzvos but also if they may do more and what conditions they are allowed to do more according to those who say they can.

However first and foremost we need to deemphasize intensive learning and performance of the Eidos and Chukim that apply to Jews exclusively, and deal with practical issues of the 7 laws and those things needed to further world harmony and stability.

Instead of the type of learning we see, we need to encourage the reading of books that will be helpful for them. For example Artscroll and other publishers have come out in recent years with pseudo biographical works about many Rabbis. They emphasize the good works and traits of these Rabbis. There is much for non-Jews to gain from that just as Jews gain from that.

I will try in the next few articles, to fill in this important information and by doing so, to show the Noahides how to live a full and satisfying life in accord with what HaShem wants of them.

We need to also keep in mind that we want to guide Noahides so that they are not dependent on us constantly. It is easy to teach what they need to know of the laws, and then guide them to act as individuals (or as a group) to further world harmony and stability.


What should organizations be doing?

The Torah and Codes of Law never indicate that there should be an organized group of Noahides. It sees them as individuals. What has happened is that in recent years many non-Jews have left Christianity and because of the internet they meet each other. While it was not intentional; the Noahide movement just is. This can be a force for good, but it can also be a negative force leading to a new religion. At this time it can go either way.

What should organizations do in order to further HaShem’s plan for non-Jews and not drift into a new religion divorced from HaShem and Torah?

1.     Spreading 7 laws – the primary function is to spread the laws to other non-Jews
2.     Provide basic materials on the 7 laws. The preferred way is like that used by Rav Yoel Schwartz, which just lists what is allowed or not. (I will be having a few articles for that purpose with the emphasis on understanding the general principles so that they can be applied to real life situations.)
3.     Provide lists of qualified Scholars who can be consulted and are willing to answer more difficult issues.
4.     Inspirational lectures – rather than on intricacies of law, talks on personal improvement. Discussions of stories of the Tanach are also good.
5.     Making charitable organizations – This is a very important function as it leads to the spreading of the laws. A Vendyl Jones Memorial Hospital is more worthwhile than a Yeshiva for Noahides. Such an endeavor would show that Noahides have finally started to focus on the goal.
6.     Political action – Get involved in activities that will further observance of the 7 laws.

This is just an outline and I am sure with thought more can be done.


To summarize: The purpose of the 7 laws is to transform the non-Jew into a person who is sensitive to his or her responsibility to transform this world into a place of peace and stability, where it is possible for the knowledge of HaShem to be spread out.

Purpose of the 7 Laws

This article is one I have wanted to write for almost 15 years. Since my first encounters and discussions with Noahides I have been thinking of these things. I hope that what I write here will be helpful, but more than that I hope it will inspire those many serious Noahides (and those who desire to be close to the God of the Tenach) to reexamine their actions and motivations for them.

Because of the length I have divided it into two parts. This first one deals with the basic principles involved, while the second expands on them to point out the problems why things did not develop the proper way and some suggestions for Noahides and Rabbis on where to go from here.


One of the biggest problems dealing with Noahides (and more with the Ger people) is that they have no understanding of what the purpose of the 7 laws is. Having spoken and observed Noahides for over 15 years, it seems that the predominant view is that being a Noahide is like Judaism lite. It’s a stage between Christianity, without Jesus and the New Testament, and conversion to full 613 mitzvah observant Judaism. It is seen as a type of Judaism rather than a totally different (and important) way of serving HaShem.

If it is not a streamlined version of Judaism then what is it? In this article I want to examine this issue, not just from the strict halachic perspective but with an eye to give insights on the underlying purpose of the laws.

I believe this is necessary for a few reasons. Primarily is that no Noahide I have discussed with has a clear answer of ‘why’ these 7. If Judaism is the only true religion, then why should there be Noahides at all? This has led to many Noahides feeling they ‘should’ do more, but without being able to give a valid reason why.


What is our purpose in the world?

The most important question we all need to ask is: What does HaShem want of me? What am I, as an individual, here for? Everyone has a specific purpose in their life. HaShem has us here for something. We may not know what it is, but it is there.

For the Jew it is simpler. He has a Torah, a Talmud a Shulchan Aruch, Rabbis and Rebbes. There are many wise and Holy men to go to in order to get advice, and guidance. Every Jew has to consider what path to take. Should I sit and learn my whole life? Should I live in Israel, or somewhere else? A Jew has what he learned at home, at Yeshiva, from his Rabbeiim and Rebbes to guide him in these decisions.

For the non-Jew it is different. There are no ‘Rebbes’ for them. They need to grapple alone with questions like: Does HaShem want him to convert? What is he or she as a non-Jew supposed to do? Why does HaShem have non-Jews anyway?

There are specific goals HaShem has for the individual, there are also general goals for individual nations and mankind as a whole. There is a goal and purpose for the Jewish people, and one for the non-Jews. For the Jewish people it involves keeping 613 mitzvos and for the non-Jew 7. But what is the purpose of these mitzvos? Why this difference?

There have been many seforim written to explain the answer for a Jew. These answers from different perspectives lead to different ways of living within the Torah for Jews. Chassidim, Litvish etc., all have slightly different answers to these questions.
But we remain with this question: What is the fundamental purpose of the 7 commandments? To understand that we need to first examine what is the purpose of the Jewish people as opposed to the rest of the nations of the world. Then use that to see what the purpose of the non-Jew is in HaShem’s plan.


To understand HaShem’s purpose for the Jewish people we need to go all the way back to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Before giving the Torah HaShem explains in Exodus 19:5-6 just what the program was to be:

And now if you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, you will be for Me a special treasure from among all the peoples because all the world is Mine. You will be for Me a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy People. This is what you shall say to the Children of Israel.

There are three terms used for the Jewish people that is to distinguish them from the rest of the nations of the world. Let’s look at each of them in turn to see what they tell us about the role of the Jewish people; to build the contrast to the role of the non-Jewish world.

1. A ‘special treasure.’ Rashi‘s comment here is significant. He describes a treasure as ‘expensive vessels, precious stones that kings hide’. Then he continues and says ‘it does not say you alone are mine and no others… they (Israel) are in my eyes before all others.’ (The Siparno comments similarly to Rashi.)

Here is the classic statement of the ‘chosenness of Israel’. All of creation is important to HaShem, BUT the Jewish people who keep his commandments and uphold his covenant are special above the others. This specialness comes from their acceptance of the Torah in full and keeping it. A non-Jew and even a Jew who does not keep the Torah, does not have this special status.

When we refer to the Jewish people as a light to the gentiles, what does that mean? It means that by keeping the Torah and serving HaShem as he commanded, it becomes revealed to the nations HaShem and the special nature of Israel. This is to attract them to HaShem just as the light attracts those who are in darkness.

2. ‘Kingdom of Priests.’ Rashi says the word ‘priests’ (Kohen) means princes. The Ramban says it means a kingdom of priests ‘to serve me’. The Siparno adds to this: ‘You will be a kingdom of priests to understand and to instruct all the peoples, to all of them in the name of HaShem.’

Here we see that the Jewish people have an exalted state, but the purpose of that is NOT to forcibly rule over others. The Jewish people are the priests in relationship to the rest of the world who are the laity, just as in Israel the Jewish people are divided into the tribe of Levi and the rest of Israel. There are two responsibilities of this position which corresponds to the responsibilities of the priests.

The first is serving HaShem, like the priests did in the temple. The priests would perform daily service to HaShem as representatives of the Jewish people. This would also apply to the whole world, with the Jewish people as a whole performing religious rituals for the rest of the world. (This actually occurred in the times of the Temple when they had a special daily sacrifice specifically for the nations of the world.)

The second refers to another function that was primarily for the priests; that was to learn Torah and to instruct others in Torah.

In ‘payment’ of this the people of Israel would support the priests. They got the tithes. And so the nations are to support the Jewish people who observe HaShem’s Torah.

On the other hand the priests were not given a portion in the land outside of some cities. Similarly we see that Israel as a whole is given the Holy Land for theirs, and the rest of the world is for the non-Jewish nations. But the non-Jewish nations are supposed to help and support Israel because of that.

3. ‘Holy Nation’. The Ramban says on this ‘to attach themselves to the Holy God. As it says “You shall be Holy because I HaShem am Holy. “This is a promise for this world and the next.’

The Ramban is referring to the beginning of the parsha of Kedoshim (Leviticus 19) which has the exhortation to Holiness. The Ramban there discusses that ‘holiness’ means separation and refers to the observance of the mitzvos which brings holiness. It is a special burden to keep the commandments, which will bring a special level of holiness to the Jews who keep them. This is not the case with the 7 commandments.


To summarize these two verses we see that HaShem is saying that when the Jewish people will keep His commands in the Torah they will be raised to a special place before Him.

With regards to their relationship to the other nations, they will be separated, by doing the commandments which will bring upon them holiness. They will be charged to be there to teach and instruct in HaShem’s law and provide service to HaShem as an emissary of the nations.

In short, the purpose of the Jewish people is to take care of the ‘spiritual’ needs of this world, and aid the other nations in their relationship with HaShem.


From this we see what the purpose of the non-Jewish nations and peoples is. In the nation of Israel there is a division. The tribe of Levi were involved in the spiritual matters concentrated around the Temple. The rest of the Jewish people worked the land and supported themselves; but also the Levites to allow them to continue in their service of HaShem.

These verses teach us that this division in Israel, corresponds to a similar division in the world as a whole. Both Jew and non-Jew are made in God’s image, but the purpose of the Jew is to serve HaShem in spiritual matters; the job of the non-Jew is to ‘work the land’, i.e. make this world a place where the Jewish people are free to follow HaShem and serve him according to Torah. The non-Jew is supposed to help the Jew to fulfil his purpose in the world, just as the Israelite provides support for the Priest and Levite so they can perform their purpose.


If we look at the 7 laws we see this clearly reflected in them. The first two are dealing with the fundamental rejection of any false gods and beliefs.

1.     Not worshipping idols
2.     Not cursing HaShem

These two are fundamental to the 7 laws, as they place them firmly in a religious basis: HaShem commanded them to Noach. But these are not religious statutes like the 613. You find no extensive worship commands, as you find in the 613. A recognition of HaShem is implied, but no obligations on the individual. Much like it is with the Jewish people as a whole vis a vis the priesthood.

The other five are also different. They indicate a totally different perspective and purpose for the Noahide as opposed, or better said, in compliment to the Jew. We can see this clearly by looking first at two ways in which we can look at the 613 commandments and see how they relate to the other 5 laws.


The first is a recognition that the 613 laws can be divided into a two classes: those between man and God and those between man and man. The Noahide has a minimal obligation to HaShem. It is basically to not be in defiance of Him by worshipping false gods or cursing Him. It sets up that these laws are from HaShem, but not much more.

The rest are all laws dealing with interrelations. (In this sense not eating from the limb of a living animal is dealing with interrelations with other parts of HaShem’s creation.) The mitzvos between man and man really form the basis for a civil society. Were it not for them, societal order would break down. These 5 laws are 5 general categories necessary for human interrelationships to function properly.

From this we see the primary purpose of a Noahide is to improve his/her actions with regards to other people. Any action which leads to more peace, security, and stability of society is part of the mandate of the 7 commandments to Noach, even if not explicitly one of the 5 or derived from them. This includes their relationship to Jews. Seeking the welfare of the Jewish people as a group and as individuals is a fundamental part of this mandate.


The second way of looking at the mitzvos is by classifying them as either mishpatim’ (laws), ‘eidos’ (witnesses) or ‘chukim’ (decrees).

Mishpatim refers to a set of laws that are obvious and all societies have them in one way or another. The laws against murder and theft are clearly in this class. This is the primary function of the Noahide laws, and the primary purpose of Noahides is to pursue those things that would be called Mishpatim and live accordingly. They are logical and clearly fit in with the important purpose of non-Jews in this world.

Eidos refer to those commandments that are there as witnesses of the things HaShem has done for the Jewish people: The holidays like Passover are a good example. These have no relevance for the Noahide or their purpose, which is why none of the 7 are eidos. However at times there is a logical reason for a non-Jew to do actions that are eidos. For example, giving a prayer of thanksgiving to HaShem for something He did for them, is clearly logical and would be called ‘eidos’. But these are restricted to things HaShem did for the individual Noahide, or possible his nation.

Chukim are decrees that HaShem has decreed for the Jewish people having no rational reason. These also have no relevance for non-Jews. They defy logic and have no purpose but to show full submission to HaShem’s will and commands.


We see that for non-Jews their purpose is to follow the 7 laws and any other ‘laws’ that would further the goal of peace and stability in this world. I will be discussing the issue of ‘adding’ to the 7 mitzvos in another article and will also discuss this idea of what is ‘logical’.

There is another aspect of this. Noahides are expected to be a source of support for the Jewish people. This does not mean financial, (which is allowed) but moral, cultural and ethical. They should try to help Jews to fulfil the commandments given to them. For example, at times it is allowed for a non-Jew to do work for a Jew on Shabbos. (These laws are complex and I will not get into them here.) Doing this for a Noahide, while not part of the 7, is something that brings merit to the Noahide.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Interlude – Who is qualified to be a Teacher of Torah?

In this article I want to deal with the issue of who is qualified to be a teacher of Torah in general and specifically for the Laws of Noah. This is critical because non-Jews, especially on the Internet, are confronted by many people teaching Torah subjects who are openly unorthodox (unOrthodox), and unqualified. How are these non-Jews (and some Jews) to know if they are being fooled as they were in their previous religious experiences?

This is an issue of extreme importance in these series of articles for two reasons.

1. Underlying these articles is an attempt to explain clearly why a number of Rabbis who are expert in the 7 laws have come out against the ‘Ger’ business and see it as dangerous to the non-Jews themselves who wish to be close to HaShem as HE wants them to be, and also dangerous to Judaism.

2. Why should you believe me anyway? As non-Jews are not raised or trained to have the skills to discern who is learning the Torah texts as they were meant to be understood, why are my words to be given more consideration than theirs?

This discussion requires us to start with a basic but obvious assumption. What I am writing here and in these articles are for those Jews and non-Jews who believe:

There are 7 laws required of all non-Jews and that their observance is defined within the oral Torah. The later includes the later commentaries on the Talmud and codes. There is no other valid expression of HaShem’s will. The system of the oral and written law is called today ‘Torah Judaism’.

If you deny that obligatory nature of Torah Judaism, which includes the works of our Rabbis, than not only what I say here is of no purpose for you, but the true meaning and the obligations of the 7 laws themselves are outside your worldview. It is not a part of these articles to prove the validity of the oral law.


There are some pretty basic prerequisites needed, which should be obvious to all, and without them, you cannot even consider whether this person is qualitied.

First is that the person needs to be an Orthodox Jew who is faithful to the Torah, oral and written. His life is based on the foundation of Torah Judaism. His faithfulness to the Torah needs to be unquestionable.

This person needs to have spent years in the study of Talmud and Halacha in general, and works discussing the 7 laws in particular. The reason is that true Torah knowledge takes years to acquire. Proper understanding of Halacha requires knowledge of many areas. It is not acquired just by reading some books in English.

The teacher should not be a new convert or Baal Tshuvah (and certainly not a non-Jew). It not only takes time to gather the skills to understand a page of Talmud or a Halacha in Rambam or Shulchan Aruch, it takes time to learn the Torah perspective and approach to life in general. One who has not absorbed the Torah life style, cannot understand the nuances.

This person should have credentials to show they have some qualifications to correctly teach Torah subjects. The best thing would be that the person has already taught in a yeshiva or gave shiurim in a kollel where they were held under scrutiny to see if they mastered the Torah subjects they were teaching. Internet classes have no review and so are not qualifications.

Smicha also indicates some knowledge, but not with regards to the Noahide laws, nor does it indicate an ability to teach.

Without these some letter of support from someone who is qualified who will confirm the teacher’s qualifications is also good. Unfortunately there is no test of ones knowledge of the 7 laws that exists today. Acceptance by others who have interacted with him who are known to have the knowledge is certainly a positive indicator.

The bottom line here is that a teacher needs to be someone who isn’t learning the subject as he goes along, or who never gained the skills. We don’t want someone who is fooling people influencing people in life effecting decisions. Yeshivas don’t just hire people from the street, you should not accept someone who could never be accepted to teach in a real live Yeshiva.


Having the above is not enough. I think there are a few things that are key in choosing who you are going to follow and listen to.  

Is this person knowledgeable? It is not hard to appear knowledgeable when speaking to people who do not know the sources. So how do you tell? One way is if the person is part of a community and is respected as knowledgeable there.

Does this person present the material in a way that, from beginning to end, is organized and understandable? If you don’t understand what he is trying to say then this person may not be such a good teacher, or worse, he may not really know the material well.

Are they prepared when they teach? Or do they try to wing it? All gadolim I have known were prepared BEFORE they would teach. I heard this from one of my Rebbes, HaRav Shmuel Kraus ZT’L. He once saw his Rebbe the Galanter Rov HY’D before giving a shiur looking over the Gemara. He asked his Rebbe why he did that since he knew all of Shas (all of the Talmud) and certainly knew the material he was going to teach. The Rov HY’D told him that he was taught that before one gives a shiur one has to review the material you will be teaching, even if you know it.

Many issues in the Talmud and in Halacha will have differing views. It may come as a surprise, but Jews don’t always agree with each other, and that is also the case with Rabbis. Does the teacher understand them? Can he explain what the differences are; why they disagree and why we follow the Halacha like one of these views?

If there are doubts in your mind, especially on key issues being taught, then this person is not qualified.


It is interesting to note that in Shulchan Aruch in the laws dealing with from whom we can learn Torah it is not sufficient to know the subject material; they have to be of a certain character. How do you discern who has the right character? How do you discover who is qualified.

Just as an example: I taught for a number of years in a chassidic yeshiva, and also as a private Rebbe where my students were weekly tested on the material I taught. I with my sons are integral parts of a rather large sized Chassidic group. As to my knowledge of the Noahide laws, I was personally approached to sign the letter about the ‘Ger movement’ because I was known to have in depth knowledge of the subject of the 7 Laws. This last point will become more apparent as these articles continue.

As I have pointed out in previous articles, Chaim Clorfene has continually denigrated Torah Judaism, as such he is not qualified for us to learn from him Torah subjects. (I would like to point out that after pointing out his previous articles to some who even considered him a friend, not one will say they support his views on Torah Judaism, and they agree it is outside of what is acceptable.) David Katz is another story. There is no question in my mind as to his allegiance to Torah Judaism. I have other problems with his works that I feel would disqualify him.


Let’s move from the theoretical to the practical. A good way of approaching this problem is to look at those kinds of things that lead people away from Christianity (or any other false beliefs) in the first place. These red flags apply here too. This opens some good tools of analysis that adds to what was said above.

The first thing is the distortions or mistranslations of the Tenach. In this case there are many good examples from Katz’ book and lectures which are similar. I intend to have a whole article on the misuse of the Biblical words by Katz which seems to be the foundation of the theories of Clorfene and Katz. Let me just give two here.

The first is a minor point in the whole picture but it indicates what the big problem is. In The Laws of Ger Toshav and more in his lecture series on Ger, Katz distinguishes between the pshat (פשט) and the lefi pshuto (לפי פשוטו). This happens in his lectures often when discussing Rashi where he claims Rashi is not ‘pshat’ but ‘lefi pshuto’. But this is a total distortion and misunderstanding of the Hebrew language.

First pshat (פשט) is a common noun but pshuto (פשוטו) is possessive. It literally means: his (or its) pshat. They mean essentially the same. He then compounds his error by a misunderstanding of Rashi. Rashi never says he is explaining the ‘pshuto’. What he says is that he is explaining the ‘pshuto shel mikra’ (פשוטו של מקרא), which literally means ‘the pshat of the verse’. (See Rashi on Bereishis 3:8 as an example.) These mean the exact same thing as just saying ‘pshat’.

Rashi’s use of Talmudic and Midrashic sources in his commentary are well known. It is also well known that his grandson the Rashbam many times disagreed with his grandfather as to what the true pshat was, but there is no indication that Rashi’s intention was other than to explain the pshat (except where he explicitly says he is quoting from a Midrash and bringing a Midrashic interpretation.) All this is known to those who learn Rashi weekly, as mentioned in Halacha, and are familiar with his method of interpretation.

To add to this there is the famous dictum of the Talmud (Shabbos 63a, Yavamos 24a)  Ayn Mikra Yotzei mYidei Peshuto (אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו) which means that a verse is not to be interpreted other than according to its pshat. Making a distinction between these two words is just wrong and deceptive.

Next I want to just discuss a single word of the many I will discuss in a later article. This is the word ‘nochri’. On page 11 of The Laws of Ger Toshav Katz says a nochri is ‘a goy/akum’ (i.e. idol worshipper).

On page 144 we learn of a ‘nochri chasid’ who appears similar to a Ger toshiv. His language is hard to comprehend there. It seems to be based on something that appears in Od Yisroel Yosef Beni Chai. On page 7-8 there the term ‘chasid nochri’ is used by the Beis Yosef in his commentary, which appears to mean the same as chasidei umos haolom’. This ‘nochri’ is clearly not an ‘akum’.

Then we see on page 149 where he says something different again, but here it is much closer to the proper definition. He says ‘nochri’ is “synonymous with acum, goy, non-Jew and sometimes kuti.”

However the clearest definition of ‘nochri’ is in the Talmud Brochos 47b. There the Talmud discusses the Mishnah that says that we do not make a zimon (united blessing after meals) with a ‘nochri’. There it says the Mishnah refers to a non-Jew who is in the process of converting but has not yet immersed, and it states: “however long he has not immersed he is a nochri.” That means everyone born a non-Jew who is not a Ger Tzedek is a nochri. That is how it is meant in all places in Halacha. (As to the Biblical text, I will discuss the Biblical terms used in verses in a later article.)

Besides that he has a continual tendency to misunderstand or misuse texts. For example chapter 304 has a big place in his book and it is based on the Gemara in Yavamos. He wants to use it as some proof of what a non-Jew is or is not allowed to do for a Jew. But that is not what the purpose of that is.

I will be discussing Yavomos and the sources behind 304 at length. In short 304 is about slaves and Shabbos, because it is interested in when it is Biblically forbidden for a non-Jew to do work for themselves or when a Jew cannot Biblically ask a non-Jew to do work for themselves. The Biblical prohibition applies when the non-Jew is under the control of a Jew either as property, or otherwise.

The general laws for non-Jews and Shabbos work are that they are rabbinic and are discussed in other places like: chapter 307:2-5 (Laws of Shabbos related to speech) 243 (Laws of renting land and a bathhouse to non-Jews) 244 (The types of work a non-Jew can do for a Jew) 245 (A Jew and non-Jew who are partners; how should they act on Shabbos.) 246 (Laws of borrowing and renting to a non-Jew on Shabbos) and various other places throughout the laws of Shabbos. Those are the places we need to look for the relevant laws that apply to a non-Jew today.

Likewise he misrepresents the view of the late Rebbe of Lubavitch ZT’L. He claims the Rebbe Z’TL ‘got Ger’ but the Rebbe was clear that there was no Ger Toshiv today. (See Lekutei Sichos vol. 26 page 136. Also the responsa of the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL in HaPardes May 1985 page 7).

The confusion seems to come from a simple error. While it is clear in the sources, like the late Rebbe ZTL there is no Ger Toshiv today, there are many sources who agree that a Noahide is treated as one in many cases, like being allowed to live in Israel for example. But that doesn’t make that Noahide a ‘Ger’

The term itself is found offensive by some true Gerei Tzeddek because it negates the difficulties and sacrifices they have made in order to undergo full conversion. Because of the effect this has on true Gerim calling non-Jews ‘ger’ may even violate the commandment to ‘love the ger’, which means the Ger Tzedek. (See Rambam Sefer HaMitzvos positive command 207 and Sefer HaChinuch mitzvah 431 where it states explicitly this is a ger tzedek who has completed conversion.)


One of the big issues is with contradictions within the New Testament. Obviously someone who writes a book or teaches and contradicts himself is a problem. We are not talking about minor misstatements, which anyone can make, and do not indicate lack of qualification. No book comes out without errors. However contradictions that effect key issues and concepts are what we are concerned about.

In this case Katz’ book is a good example. In the back he has two chapters which are almost the same in purpose. One is an ‘Elucidation of Terms’ and the other a ‘Lexicon’. But when you read the same definition/issue in both of them and compare you are led to total confusion.

To give one example of the contradictions if we compare what he says about Ben Noach gamor/kosher in both places there is a clear contradiction. Page 141 says this means a gentile in the time of the Jubilee who has accepted the laws before a rabbinic court. But on page 148 this is a Ben Noach who has taken on more than the 7. In fact if you just compare all the multiple categories of Ben Noach and Ger Toshiv in these 2 chapters you will be totally confused.

If we compare what he says about these terms with the Ritva, which he discusses on page 165, these definitions make no sense and are totally confusing. It is either a clear contradiction or just an indication of total confusion by the author.

I will be clarifying all the issues with regards to this in the upcoming articles, but let me here summarize 99% of the issues involved here:

1.     According to the Ritva, Ramban and basically all the Rabbinic sources I have seen there are 3 categories of non-Jews:
a.     Those who do not follow the 7 Laws.
b.     Benei Noach/Noahides who do keep the 7.
c.     Ger Toshiv who are Noahides who have appeared before a Beis Din (Jewish Court) to formally accept upon themselves the observance of the 7 mitzvos.
2.     Of those Noahides who keep the 7; according to the Rambam if they do so because of a belief in the Torah of Moshe, then they are called Chasidei Umos HaOlam (pious of the nations) and have a place in the world to come.
3.     There are views that a formal acceptance before three Jews of the 7 laws today have a spiritual benefit to the Noahide. (I agree and will discuss it later)
4.     There is no Ger Toshiv today. Anything that would apply to a Ger Toshiv (except what I discuss in the next point) does not apply.
5.     In some ways a Noahide is considered like a Ger Toshiv today (allowed to live among us/forbidden to do harm to them) and they are therefore considered like Gerei Toshiv, even though they are not.
6.     Tosephus (Avodah Zarah 64b Who is a Ger Toshiv) indicates #5 applies to any non-Jew who repudiates idol worship and has not been convicted of violating any of the other laws. In this case the concept of ‘Ger’ as opposed to a Noahide seems meaningless to Tosephus,

That’s it in simple words. In general all teachers of Noahides really try to influence non-Jews to be Chassidei Umos HaOlam. What appears above is the view of virtually every Rabbinic work on the subject. Sometimes Katz seems to agree; other times clearly not. It is just impossible to make out what he thinks at times.


Another issue is that of being deceptive or being less than totally truthful. One of the obvious examples of this is done by messianics, who while being non-Jews dress like Jews and imitate Jews in various ways. I have seen non-Jewish Messianics who you would think they were very religious Jews, even Rabbis or Rebbes.

There are many followers of Katz and Clorfene who you would not know were not Jewish if you looked at them and didn’t know.

We see a similar thing with Katz and his book. It has a nice picture of him with a hat and suit jacket. That is the ’uniform’ of a Litvish or Yeshivish man. However in real life all the pictures of him show him without hat or jacket, and looking like what is called ‘Chardel’. This is not a big point, and there is nothing wrong with that, but many people would find it strange that the picture of him does not match how he normally dresses.

Though not specifically deceptive, it is interesting that Chaim Clorfene in his last missive (https://www.chaimclorfene.com/new-blog/2017/11/17/the-nilveh-imperative) uses the nickname ‘serious six’. His followers use similar names as does Katz. But the Rambam is clear (Laws of Repentance chapter 3 Halacha 14) that using nicknames for people, and even more for Talmidei Chochamim (of which there are among the six) is one of the things for which you lose your place in the world to come. (I will not even bring what appears in Shaarei Tshuvah says on such things which is even stronger.) He is misrepresenting himself when he acts that way.


The final issue is that it is really common for Christian pastors to act as if they are prophets and have special knowledge which makes them above others. One need only look at Chaim’s last missive to see that this is a perfect description of him. Besides that he insults the Baal Shem Tov and all the Holy men who follow in his teachings, whose spiritual path was not Chaim’s.

There are various spiritual paths within Judaism, so who is he to denigrate any of them? One thing is clear, it is a sign of arrogance, which the Talmud teaches (Sotah 5a) that if one is arrogant, HaShem cannot stand to be together with him. That is even ignoring his constant attacks on Torah Judaism, which place him beyond the pale.


In conclusion, there are many Rabbis and teachers out there, who are knowledgeable and what they teach has clear sources in Halacha. They do not distort these sources, and even when there are issues on which we disagree, we can agree that the views were arrived at within the Halachic system, by people who understand the sources.

That is absolutely not the case with Chaim Clorfene, and David Katz. I will be examining many of these issues in the next articles in the hope that Katz and others will read them and reexamine what they have misunderstood. Maybe it will influence them to change what they are saying so they teach in accord with what is accepted.


I would like to point out that unfortunately these articles will take time to finish. I have no intention of making a book of this, nor making any money. I do not insist anyone follow me. Just listen to those who teach Toras Emes. What I write is just to clarify and spread Torah. But it will take time.

I again ask for comments, but keep it on the topic and no personal attacks please.

Purpose of the 7 Laws – Part 2 In the first part we discussed the overall goal of the 7 laws and differentiated them from the 613 mit...