There are many in our society who oppose the Noahide Code. All one has to do is to Google “Noahide Laws” and you will see the proliferation of anti-Noahide websites that have infested the internet. For those familiar with the Noahide Law, the distortions of these haters is easy to spot. For those unfamiliar with the Torah, not so much.
The majority of these anti-Noahide websites are Christian websites, although there are more than a few that are atheist. The fear of the Christians is that the Noahide Law has the power to destroy their religion; the atheists fear that the Noahide Law will take away their hedonism, or force them to accept that there is a God and an ultimate morality.
The anti-Noahides have it right in that we are out to destroy organized religion, particularly Christianity, the main organized religion in America. It would be difficult to find a more divisive ideology than organized religion. Since organized religion is prohibited under the Noahide Code, their fears are certainly justified. It is the task of the Noahide to remove this divisive ideology from the face of the earth.
It is the fear-mongering about decapitation that is the anti-Noahide’s weapon of choice. They use this threat to incite others against the Noahide Code, spreading fear that, if Noahide Law becomes the “law of the land,” then Noahides will decapitate not only Christians but anyone who violates the law. To think that we would promote a legal system that would mete out death for someone who steals a loaf of bread is ludicrous. This inflexible interpretation of dinim makes Javert look like Mother Teresa.
Where do these anti-Noahides get such crazy ideas? Unfortunately, it is from the Jews themselves, particularly the supporters of Rambam. Many of the Jews out there who are involved in the Noahide movement teach that decapitation is the only punishment for violating any of the Noahide Laws. This sad fact is not lost on the enemies of the Torah, and it is these Jews who have become unwitting allies of the anti-Noahides and furnish the haters with the ammunition they need to install fear among the ignorant.
In Bava Metzia 90a–90b, there is a discussion about Noahides. The topic is about Jews who get Noahides to castrate bulls (which is halakhically forbidden to Jews). Rav Pappa says that Jews who do this transgress the prohibition “do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind.” This is a mitzvah from Leviticus 19:14, “which prohibits causing another person to stumble in sin. It includes causing a non-Jew to violate one of the laws commanded to him.” (Schottenstein Talmud).
To my knowledge, this part of the Talmud has never been taught or even mentioned by any rabbi who is involved in the Noahide movement. The reason for this is clear: any Jew who interferes with the Noahide’s observance of the Seven Laws is in violation of halakha. It is bad enough for the rabbis to fill the Noahide’s head with obligations which have nothing to do with the Noahide Law, but to tell Noahides that they must not attack the idolatrous religions which permeate our society, to tell them that our obligation to dinim is only to set up courts of justice, to tell Noahides not to campaign for social change but to let God handle everything, to tell the Noahide that every violation of a Noahide law in a sovereign Noahide state must result in decapitation—these things are what cause Noahides to stumble by preventing them from fulfilling the observance of dinim. It is a violation of halakha.
Some years ago, when I started to wonder about why the rabbis were teaching the Noahides Judaism instead of Noahide Law, I told my concerns to a friend of mine, a rabbi who was sympathetic to the cause. He discreetly talked to some of the rabbis involved in the Noahide movement, and my fears were confirmed. The rabbis involved in the Noahide movement are deliberately teaching the Noahides that the Seven Laws are only a vehicle for personal salvation, steering them away from the social dimension of dinim. The rabbis do not want the Noahide movement to grow, at least not in the direction it is supposed to. The last thing they want is for Noahides to campaign against the current social order, to instigate society-changing reforms. They feel that Noahides would rile up the public and cause problems for the Jews. This is, of course, a valid concern, but what are we to do? It’s our tuchas on the line, not theirs. We are ultimately responsible for keeping the Seven Laws, and the Seven Laws cannot be observed in their entirely unless we make them the basis for our society’s legal system. However, by interfering with the Noahide’s observance of dinim, the rabbis themselves violate the halakha outlined in Bava Metzia 90b by placing a stumbling block in front of the Noahides.
It is obvious that the rabbis are leading the Noahides down the wrong path. It is also obvious that they want to be in control, and will not follow our lead in directing the course of implementing Noahide Law in our own society. The only recourse is for them to get out of our way.