«Brit Shalom» – a guide to practical Noahide daily life, brief version

Chapter Six. The Family

And Gоd created man in His image, in the image of Gоd He created him, male and female he created them. And Gоd blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:27-28)
The man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called woman, for from man was she taken.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
And man called his wife’s name Eve because she had become the mother of all living. (Genesis 3:20)

This is a brief version.

To get a full version [hide]

This is a brief version.

To get a full version [hide]


When the Holy One blessed be He created human beings, male and female, it was said:189 “And Gоd blessed them, and Gоd said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.’” And so, too, after the flood, He blessed Noah and his sons, as it is written:190 “And Gоd blessed Noah and his sons, and he said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” Because it is the will of Gоd that the human species should increase in number in order to advance civilization, as the prophet said:191 “He did not create it (the world) to be a wasteland, but formed it for habitation.”192

The sages said:193 Anyone who is not occupied with procreation is as though he sheds blood, and as if he diminishes the image of Gоd. And anyone who is without a wife is without joy, without blessing, without goodness, without peace, without Torah and without protection. And, he is not even called a true man, for it is written:194 “Male and female he created them (in order to procreate), and he called their name man.”195


1. Love between a man and his wife is one of the highest expressions of both human and divine morality.196

2. The essence of the principle to “love your fellow as yourself” manifests in a married couple.197

3. The most desirable way for facilitating the marriage bond is through a public ceremony, such as by traditional betrothal and sanctification under a chupah (canopy).198 This bond becomes obligatory and is validated absolutely after consummation of the marriage.199

4. A man and a woman who have love between them, as well as trust and mutual respect, are found favorable and are beloved by the Creator.200

5. It is especially appropriate to invest time in nurturing the love between husband and wife in the first year of marriage.201


If, Heaven forbid, the marriage bond does not turn out well, it can be severed by the decision of one of the couple to separate. It is desirable to arrange the separation of the man and woman officially, in front of representatives of the community. Their decision to separate will be inscribed upon a mutually agreed document and the husband will declare in the presence of witnesses: “You are hereby divorced from me and are permitted to any man.” Or the woman will declare: “ I am hereby no longer under your authority, and am permitted to any man.”202

Behavioral Guidelines

1. A man must refrain from spending time alone with someone else’s wife in a closed room or other area into which other people are not likely to enter.203

2. Wearing modest attire that preserves a person’s honor, particularly where women are concerned, and especially married women, is an elevated character trait.204 Therefore, it is also appropriate to refrain from wearing clothes classically associated with the opposite sex.205

3. It is appropriate that the marriage document will include an official commitment on the part of the husband to look after the welfare and comfort of his wife.206

4. A person should not gaze at immodest sights.207

5. A man should not desire another man’s wife.208

6. Noahides who want to observe laws of family purity (concerning a woman’s monthly cycle) in the manner of Jews are permitted to do so.209

Purity (laws regarding illicit relations)

A Noahide man is prohibited from having relations with any of the following and receives punishment for doing so:210

1. His mother

2. His father’s wife, even if she is not his mother, and even after his father’s death

3. A married woman

4. A sister born to his mother

5. A male

6. Animals

Behavioral Guidelines

1. Aside from the above prohibitions, it is appropriate to refrain from all the illicit relations detailed in the Torah, in the book of Leviticus,211 which are “Canaanite abominations,” as well as relations between one woman and another.212

2. The sages of Israel praised the other nations since, even though some of them violated the prohibition of male to male relations, they refrained from institutionalizing this practice.213

3. The court of Shem, the son of Noah, issued a ban on prostitution.214

4. It is forbidden for a Jewish man to have relations with a Noahide woman and it is forbidden for a Jewish woman to have relations with a Noahide man.215

5. One should not engage in conversations about illicit relations.216


187 She’ilat Ya’avetz Part 1, Siman 43; Responsa, Har Tzvi Part 4 (Even Ha’ezer, Siman 1, 6).

188 Regarding the Noahide obligation to procreate, see She’iltot DeRav Achai Gaon 165; Sanhedrin 59b, Tosafot ד”ה והא ; Asara Ma’amarot, Ma’amar Chikur Din, Part 3,Chapter 21. A woman is not commanded to procreate (Mishnah Yevamot 6:6; Mishneh Torah, Ishut 15:2).

189 Genesis 1:28.

190 Genesis 9:1.

191 Isaiah 45:18.

192 Aruch HaShulchan, Even Ha’Ezer, Siman 1; Mishnah Eduyot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 13: The world was only created so that people would procreate.

193 Bavli Yevamot 63b.

194 Genesis 5:2.

195 Bavli Yevamot 62b.

196 Malachi 2:14.

197 See Bavli Kiddushin 41a.

198 Our recommended Chupah and Ketubah protocol is found in the “Brit Olam” prayer book.

199 Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 9:7, where it is stated explicitly that Noahides are obligated in both eirusin (betrothal) and chupah (bridal canopy associated with marriage).

200 Bavli Sotah 17a: if they merit, the Divine Presence dwells with them.

201 Deuteronomy 24:5.

202 According to Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 9:8; also brought out in the “Brit Olam” prayer book.

203 Bavli Avodah Zarah 36b.

204 See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 9:8 regarding a head covering for a married woman.

205 Deuteronomy 22:5.

206 Genesis 34:12; Exodus 21:10; see Mishnah Ketubot 9:9 (end).

207 Numbers 15:39.

208 Exodus 20:14.

209 See Biur Halacha (Mishnah Berurah), Orach Chaim, Siman 304 (end); Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim, Chapter 13.

210 Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 9:5.

211 Leviticus, Chapters 18, 20; see Bavli Sanhedrin 57b.

212 Since this is in the category of “deeds done in the land of Egypt, where you dwelled, you should not do” (Leviticus 18:3); see Sifra, Acharei Mot, Parasha 9 (beginning); Mishneh Torah, Isurei Bi’ah 21:8.

213 Bavli Chulin 92b; ibid. Rashi ד”ה שאין כותבין כתובה לזכר.

214 See Bavli Avodah Zarah 36b.

215 Mishneh Torah, Issurei Bi’ah 12:1.