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The Seven Noahide Laws

G-d gave Noah and all his descendants (B'nei Noach or "children of Noah") seven commandments to obey. These Seven Universal Laws (also known as the "Seven Noahide Laws") were reaffirmed with Moses and the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai, so that observance of these laws should now be done according to the Oral Torah (the revelation at Sinai). These seven commandments (mitzvos) are not arbitrary laws, but rather G-d's plan for mankind. (To the Jewish people G-d gave the entire Torah [teaching] as their Law. They therefore have a special responsibility—with special commandments—to be the priesthood of the world, a "light unto the nations.")

Non-Jews who (1) reject all idolatrous ideas and accept the kingship of the One G-d, (2) accept the priesthood of the Jewish people as the guardians and teachers of Torah, and (3) commit to following the Seven Noahide Laws as revealed in the Oral Torah from Mt. Sinai are "Hasidic Gentiles" or "Noahides." The term "Hasidic Gentile" is derived from a classic commentary by the Rambam, Rav Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), in The Laws of Kings 8:11:

"Anyone who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these Seven Mitzvos [commandments] and is precise in their observance is considered one of the hasidei umos ha'olam ["Hasidim of the nations of the world"] and will merit a share in the World to Come."

The Seven Noahide Laws are the minimal observance for non-Jews. The source of these laws and the basis of their understanding is the Oral Torah, which G-d gave to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai along with His Written Law. According to the explanation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Hasidic Gentiles are also expected to perform additional mitzvos (commandments, laws, good deeds), such as giving to charity, praying regularly, and studying Torah. By learning from the Jews and performing the mitzvos, non-Jews have a crucial role in repairing and developing G-d's Creation.

The Seven Noahide Laws are the following:

  • Prohibition of idolatry
  • Prohibition of blasphemy
  • Prohibition of murder
  • Prohibition of theft
  • Prohibition of illicit relations
  • Prohibition of eating live meat
  • Prohibition of failing to establish courts of justice

The Seven Noahide Laws actually encompass numerous details and applications that are not explained here (by one opinion, 66 laws, but could comprise hundreds of laws, each with specific applications). One should also keep in mind that these laws are only the minimal basis for a Hasidic gentile's service to G-d, since there are many Jewish mitzvos that non-Jews are encouraged to adopt to accomplish more, thereby refining oneself and the Creation as a whole.

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