quinta-feira, 7 de março de 2013

The Divine Code (Book Review)

by Leibel Estrin
© 20'13 by Leibel Estrin

“How should I serve my Creator?” It is a question that has challenged spiritual individuals of all cultures since Adam, the first man, walked upon the Earth. For non-Jews who recognize the Torah as G-d's written Word, and Moses as His Divinely-chosen messenger, the issue has been a particularly sensitive one. They realize that the Jews have rules, roles, and rituals that define their relationship with G-d. But what does G-d require of non-Jews? How do they connect to the Torah? What do they need to know in order to live a righteous and fulfilling life that is spiritually true?

The Torah specifies Seven Universal Commandments for the Children of Noah. But, just as with the halacha (Torah Law) for Jews, the guidance of authentic Torah scholarship is required to transmit their meaning and application in a way that is faithful to the Rabbinical mesorah (Oral Tradition).

For that reason, there has been a desperate need for a work such as The Divine Code, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem (published by Ask Noah International). A translation and explanation of his groundbreaking Hebrew work, Sheva Mitzvot HaShem, this book does much more than merely list an overview of some of the do's and don'ts that are required of a Righteous Gentile. Using a vast breadth of authentic Torah sources, it teaches the reader how the Seven Noahide Commandments are to be applied in daily life, and it clarifies the details of the Noahide precepts in the light of corresponding details in the Jewish Codes of Torah Law (mainly as found in the Mishneh Torah and the Shulchan Aruch.)

For example, recognizing the transcendent existence and unity of G-d is obviously the foundation of the commandment not to worship idols. But there's more to it than making a solid decision at some point in one's religious development. Instead, The Divine Code explains, there is a continuous obligation to be aware of G-d's existence and sovereignty (i.e., “kabalot ol Malchut Shamayim,” accepting the “yoke of the King-dom of Heaven”). This obligation for all Gentiles is based on the Talmud, Sanhedrin 56b, and Rambam’s Laws of Kings, 8:10, and it is in keeping with King David's proclamation on the purposeful avoidance of sin: “I place G-d before me always; because He is at my right hand, I shall not falter” (Psalms 16:8).

The Divine Code is divided into seven general sections which explain the Noahide commandments and their associated details and offshoots. Section I presents Fundamentals of the Faith. Section II addresses the Prohibition of Idolatry. Section III covers the Prohibition of Blasphemy. Section IV explains details within the Prohibition of Eating Meat that was separated from a living animal, and its extension to the avoidance of causing unnecessary suffering to living creatures (tza’ar ba’alei chayim). The remaining three sections cover the Noahide prohibitive commandments against Murder and Injury, Forbidden Relations, and Theft. Each section begins with a Guest Introduction by a leading expert. For example, Dr. Joe M. Regenstein of Cornel University, a leading expert in guidelines for kosher and non-kosher humane slaughter in the meat industry, introduces the prohibition of Meat from a Living Animal, and Arthur Goldberg, Co-director of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) and the Jonah Institute of Gender Affirmation introduces the prohibition of Forbidden Relations. The result is a work of remarkable clarity as well as scholarly depth.

The Divine Code deserves a place in every synagogue and Jewish community library, as well as prominent recognition and distribution in the world at large. As a tool for teaching non-Jews about their spiritual heritage and obligations within the Torah of Moses, and as a tool for non-Jews to study (and not just read about) what it means to be a truly pious person (a Hassid) in G-d’s eyes, the Divine Code from Ask Noah International is indispensable. The book (soft cover, 672 pages) is distributed through asknoah.org and several on-line retail distributors.

Ask Noah International

Website:  asknoah.org and asknoah.com

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