Ask the Rabbi - Customs and Practices

Building a Noahide community

Q: What special aids can be prepared to help Noahides establish a community and to decide on rituals to perform? What differences are there between Jewish prayer and that of others?

Q: Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Wherever it is possible for Noahides to go to a synagogue, it is nice. What they need is a siddur (prayer book) for non-Jewish use, in a structure that more or less follows the Jewish service.

I don’t know much about the English Noahide siddur written by Rav Wiener, see I have started with a Dutch compilation for a Noahide siddur, with some special old prayers of the Dutch siddur. I am still waiting for Sefanja’s opinion about it.

I think the best is to divide it into separate parts a daily siddur, one for visiting a synagogue one for a use in a Noahide group meeting. (The last can be longer than the others).

2. What I see is that people are looking for rituals: To start and finish Shabbat or festivals, to know how to celebrate, marriage/wedding days and funerals.

I think everybody is more or less free to use the Jewish “rituals” and halacha/minhagim (customs), but they are not obligated by them. But in order to form a group they need some agreement about what to do and how to do. It is not easy to start, because you cannot force people to do something for halachic reasons. It seems it will all be based on agreement as human beings.

The question is how to prevent everybody from in the end doing what he or she wants and likes to do.

3. For group meetings the people need enough information when studying Torah (weekly parasha and haftara). They can use Jewish commentaries, but it should be nice for them if they could make a link to their own Noahide life.

For this reason I suggest starting a weekly parasha/haftarah commentary especially for Noahides and to build up a database with weekly lectures. Athis can be both written and audio mp3.

Because the most Noahides are ex-Christians, it is important to teach them how to read and use the written Torah. The Christian way of reading, studying, and understanding is very different from the Jewish way. Other important topics are the connection between (written) Torah and halacha, and what you already have said: to understand the big difference between the Christian and Jewish ways of praying.

It is interesting to read what you quoted from Rav Kook about secularism – that he views it as a step to real Torah life and to a better understanding of Torah concepts. I think this is a good challenge for you 🙂 – to write about this subject and show the people the big difference between Christianity and Noahism. I think that right now many people think that Noahism is Christianity without the new testament or only without the man from Nazareth.

My question is this: how can I reconcile the approach that Islam and Christianity which stem from avodah zara (idol worship) may help to improve the world, and Rav Kook’s opinion that secularism is what is necessary to bring human beings to a higher level?

A: I think that groups of Noahides who want to have a common pattern of behavior (a “halacha”) would benefit greatly by being in constant contact with a Rabbi who could help them apply the codification to their own congregation. This includes prayers and rituals. The idea of a commentary tailored to the needs of the Noahides is very good. The difference in the way of praying is that Jewish worship is not mystical, magical or philosophical, but rather moral and deeply human.

Rabbi Oury Cherki

Rav Oury Cherki was born in Algeria in 1959 and grew up in France, and he made Aliyah in 1972. He studied at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which was founded by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He performed his military service in the artillery branch of the IDF. He studied with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou), Rav Shlomo Binyamin and Achlag. Rav Cherki heads the Israeli department of Machon Meir, and he is the Director of Brit Olam - the Noahide World Center. He teaches in many places throughout Israel. Rav Cherki is the spiritual leader of the "Beth Yehuda" community in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem). He has written many books on Jewish thought and philosophy.

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