And so, once again, a Jew is criticizing me for what I teach, this time saying I’m a hypocrite. Although I have had plenty of criticism over the years (ever since my first book, The Noahide Code, came out), this is the first time I’ve been charged with hypocrisy. I’ve had rabbis I have never heard of calling me up out of the blue (how on earth did they get my phone number?), telling me they do not like my teachings on the Noahide Law. I always had the same response: Exactly what am I teaching that is a violation of halakha? And every time—EVERY TIME, mind you—the rabbis would stutter and stammer and say, “well, erm, no, your teaching is not against halakha…we just don’t like what you’re teaching.” Yep. Not one rabbi has told me that what I teach is against halakha. And now, after years of unfairly criticizing my work and undermining what I’ve been teaching, I’m a hypocrite. Well…
The argument started when I read about how the gerrings were celebrating Pesach. I pointed out, once again, that observing Yom Tov was no business of the Noahide, and outside the purview of the Noahide Code. Then this Jewish man, whom I had never spoken to before, chimed in, telling me that it was perfectly fine for Noahides to take on extra responsibilities that were not part of the Noahide Law, and that I obviously had inferior knowledge about the subject. He went on to explain that he had been studying Torah much longer than I have, that I had never studied in a yeshiva, and blah blah blah. I looked at his profile, and told him that my youngest son was older than he was, and explained to him that I was studying in a kollel when he was just a gleam in his daddy’s eye. His response you can read above.
I have never tried to represent myself as Jewish (except for obvious satirical purposes, i.e., Rabbi Picklestein). In fact, I have gone out of my way to preserve my goyishness. I do not wear kippahs. I do not keep kosher. I do not observe Yom Tov. I no longer “hang out” with Jews or go to shuls. I make it clear in everything I do that I am not Jewish.
But let’s talk about the real problem with hypocrisy.
I have heard, over and over, that since I’m just a dumb goy, I do not have the knowledge or training to teach Noahide Law to Noahides. I tell them that I indeed do have the knowledge and training. I have asked the rabbis, “why not teach Noahides how to make halakhic decisions for themselves?” They hem and haw and tell me that it has never been done, they don’t know how to approach it, etc. In other words, they keep coming up with excuses as to why the Noahides should not be self-sufficient, so the Noahides can remain under rabbinic control. I have pointed out that the one work that the rabbis refuse to teach Noahides is the Talmud, particularly Sanhedrin 56a–60a, the part which deals with Noahide Law. The rabbis say that the Talmud is off limits to Noahides since it has been misinterpreted in the past to create religion. I understand this argument. What I don’t understand is why the rabbis turn right around and teach religion to Noahides: prayers, keeping Shabbat, Pesach, Succos and other Yom Tov holidays, and eating kosher. It is the rabbis who are turning the Noahide Law into a religion, not me. And then they have the unmitigated audacity to criticize me for telling Noahides to quit trying to keep Jewish religious practices. What I am wanting to teach is a legal system, a philosophy; the Torah sans religion. I have been pointing out for years that there is no positive commandment for non-Jews to believe in Hashem, only the prohibition to refrain from worshiping any other god(s).
In a surprisingly well written and insightful article [CLICK HERE], Rabbi Chaim Clorfene touches on the problem of Noahides and Judaism. It seems that there is a rabbinic loophole about Noahides keeping the parts of the Torah which are for the Jews and the Jews only. But here is the part I have an issue with:
Now, perhaps this Noahide feels unfulfilled by the Seven Laws, which are seven prohibitions, and contain no rituals or traditions. The Seven Laws are really meant for governing societies more than guiding the souls of individuals or families.
What’s bothering me is that the rabbis make absolutely no provision for the many Noahides who are not interested in Judaism at all, but who are instead interested in how to “govern societies” as well as the overall philosophy of the Torah. In other words, those who are interested in a “secular” approach to the Noahide Code. This is something the rabbis are unable and unwilling to do. Yet the rabbis have stymied all attempts to let us teach the Noahide Law in this manner. For many years, I have seen countless people who are interested in this approach turned away, told that “unless you believe in Hashem and submit to rabbinic authority, you cannot become a Noahide.” Instead of presenting the Noahide Code as an all-inclusive teaching for both the spiritual and the secularist, the rabbis insist that only a very narrow demographic, those who are interested in Judaism, can be Noahides. Until the rabbis relent and let us teach the Noahide Law ourselves, teaching it outside the paradigm of Judaism, there will be war.
I would also like to point out one other issue.
Every Gentile can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses. Mazal tov!…And this Hasidic Ger Toshav is included in the Torah’s commandment not to taunt the Ger (Exodus 22:20).
Thirty years ago, I went before three rabbis to proclaim myself a Noahide. I had to do this in order to get into the kollel. I met all the criteria of what these rabbis say is a “Ger.” I was the very first one to do this, as far as I know, for the nascent Noahides at the time were still immersed in studying the New Testament. So if I am a “Ger,” according to their own criteria, why are they violating halakha by taunting me? Talk about hypocrisy…