... increasing awareness of Torah among non-Jews ...
Seven Colors of the Rainbow
seven of the Noachide Laws are derived from specific passages in the Torah,
mostly in the Book of Genesis, which tells the stories of Adam and Noah and
relates the commandments given to them. Ultimately, they all originate from a
single verse: Genesis 2:16. The later rabbinic authorities who explain these
derivations dispute a number of points. Legal debate is the norm in rabbinic
Judaism because truth is understood not as something clear and simple but as
something diverse and many-sided. We shall see how the competing interpretations
of the Noachide Laws serve to cover a much wider range of human possibilities.
seven major headings, as mentioned before, are prohibitions against:
these headings come many detailed provisions, some directly inferred by the
rabbis and others left to the individual to decide for himself or herself in
accordance with the spirit of the laws. This is because the intention is not to
punish offenders in any legalistic way but to show, by the means of specifying
what is forbidden or frowned upon, what should be done for the best in any of
example, the prohibition against idolatry serves by contrast to affirm true
belief and worship; the prohibitions on certain sexual relationships points to a
desired situation that has no moral liabilities; the commandment to establish
justice points to the need for a legal system, which every society requires for
its functioning, even in so complex an environment as our own.
intention of these commandments is not to render people guilty but to lead them
in a way of truth that will make them happy and secure. This is a world in which
decent people are often subjected to erroneous claims that have been accepted as
true simply because no one can prove them wrong. We have a powerful need for
clear moral laws that know no social or racial barriers and that apply to the
great and mighty as much as to the small. Only this specific divine code of
practice, ordained by God Himself out of His care for the world, without any
myth or other motive, can provide this need without falling into the state of
divisiveness produced by other attempts at prescription.
is no need or obligation for a non-Jew to become a Jew in order to reach this
level. A non-Jew who is accepted for conversion to Judaism leaves the Seven Laws
behind and can never return from the full Jewish obligations to observe the
Noachide obligations alone. As specified in the Torah, conversion is
accomplished by immersing the whole body in the pool of water known as a mikveh,
before Jewish witnesses, with the stated intention to take on the observance of
all 613 commandments.
rising again from the water, the whole spiritual constitution of the person is
changed to the Jewish nature. A male must also undergo circumcision beforehand.
A non-Jewish child who is immersed along with a converting parent may relinquish
the Jewish nature on reaching adulthood and become a non-Jewish observer of the
Seven Laws once more. A non-Jew who wishes to keep the Seven Laws after becoming
aware of them has no need of any ceremony. However, non-Jews may consolidate
their position by affirming their wish to keep the Seven Laws before three
scholars of the Torah.
tradition contains an element that, until the last few centuries, was taught
only to the very wise. This “secret” wisdom, known as “Kabbalah”
from the Hebrew word for “received” truth, outlines the way in which God
formed and ordered the world. The Kabbalah can help a person understand
the mysteries behind the creation. Its basic premise is the doctrine of the
“Ten Sefirot,” the ten divine emanations that carry God's original
attributes into the structures that He created, both of the universe and of the
God desired to create the world for His truth and goodness, He did so by
“projecting” these ten essential attributes into a “space” that He had
made and ordering them in a way that would show His true purpose to the
inhabitants whom He placed there. This He did through making the ten statements
of the words “and God said” in the Book of Genesis. The world actually
consists of His divine speech, found in the Hebrew letters, and is different
from human speech in that it lasts continually.
we have seen, the human being is described in the Torah as being made in the
“image of God,” with a face containing two eyes, a nose and a mouth, and
with a body, two legs and two arms. This arrangement is so fundamental,
reflecting so much of divine truth and intentions, that in the Kabbalah
it becomes the source for understanding almost the whole scheme of creation with
its interrelationships and its destiny.
of the Sefirot, the first in order of descent from Him, are known as
in turn lead into the remaining seven “emotional” attributes:
Seven Laws are each signified by one of the seven emotional Sefirot,
which derive their sustenance from the higher intellectual faculties.
division also parallels the form of the human body:
Kindness is signified by the right arm and Strength by the left.
Beauty, which results from the proper blending of Kindness and Strength,
corresponds to the torso with all the different organs the body requires.
Eternity and Glory, which operate as a pair, signify the two thighs as they
support the body each in turn.
Foundation is represented by the male sexual organ, from which the new
Sovereignty, the lowest aspect but the most fundamental of all, is signified by
the feet upon which the whole body stands.
is also a connection to the seven colors of the rainbow; each Sefirah is
associated with a single color representing its nature, some obvious and others
requiring deeper examination. The number seven is likewise connected with the
seven days of the week, since this signifies the complete natural cycle that
underlies and fulfills the world in which we live. (There are other associations
with the number seven-too many, however, to describe here.)
Sefirot are not entities in any sense. They have no size or location, no
intelligence or power. In essence, they are not individual because each contains
within itself all the others.
names are those that Torah gives to God's own attributes and intentions-to the
extent that He wishes to make them known-so that the human ear and mind can
comprehend what is far above their capability: the mysteries of creation, whose
truths are known only to the Creator Himself.
this way, the Sefirot serve as signs for us to direct our efforts, Jews
and non-Jews each according to the commandments we are given. The Sefirot
represent the positive values damaged by breaches of the laws they parallel.
Therefore, when the laws are upheld, the Sefirot shine forth, as it were,
in their true goodness and purity, radiating the light of God's all-embracing
love into the lives of humanity and blessing every aspect of existence above and
From Seven Colors of the Rainbow: Torah Ethics for Non-Jews by Yirmeyahu Bindman © 1995 Resource Publications, Inc. Published on this website by special arrangement with Resource Publications, Inc. Material may be downloaded for individual use but not otherwise published or distributed without the written permission of Resource Publications, Inc., 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112.
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Copyright © 2004, Schueller House. Revised - 11/06/11