Ask the Rabbi - Basic Concepts

Courts of Law: Are we guilty?

Hi there

I’m speaking to a fellow Noahide, one much more learned than me who has studied a lot more Jewish sources than me, including Hirsch’s Nineteen Letters and the commentaries of Ramban, who has gone through much more extensive Jewish learning than a simple reader like myself. He brings up a question that I find difficult to budge.

In the Path of the Righteous Gentile it states.

“The Children of Noah are commanded to establish courts of law that will carry out justice and maintain human righteousness and morality in accord with the Seven Universal Laws.[1] A court system that perverts justice by handing down rulings in conflict with the Seven Universal Laws is an instrument for driving God’s blessings out of the world. Anyone who fails to establish a court system, that is, who lives in a community or city in which there are no courts, and who does nothing to correct the situation, is punishable by death. One who establishes or maintains courts of law that operate contrary to the Seven Universal Laws is similarly liable.” (Chapter 12, Chapter 1, Law 1)

The noahide I’m speaking to points to the fact that we are not living in a righteous governmental system that upholds the Noahide laws. Even the page on AskNoah that speaks of this law admits we don’t live in a time where governments uphold the seven commandments. In his (the noahide’s) eyes, we are not keeping this law as long as this is the current state of affairs. So if this law has to do with an observant community and no community is observant of this law and the other six, then aren’t we guilty of breaking this law? I’m understanding this law as setting up a court that actually upholds the seven commands, not just setting up any court to go with any legal philosophy.

I live in a country that doesn’t respect the Seven Commandments. I can’t think of a country, not even the current secular government of Israel, that upholds the Seven Commandments. Yet I continue to live here. I know that personally I try to live according to HaShem’s commandments and be a good example. I don’t know if the videos I produce are enough. But if I didn’t do such videos, but just tried my all to keep the laws that I can keep but under a godless, anti-Sheva-Mitzvos government, then am I breaking this law of courts of law? According to HaShem’s standard, am I guilty? Are we noahides/gentiles guilty?

I have pointed out to this person that seeing the law as he does, then the vast majority of “observant” noahides throughout history, from the Syrian Naaman who returned to his own country, to the God-fearers of old, up until today, all of whom lived under governments that didn’t uphold the seven commandments, are guilty. And thus according to Rambam who says that one only has a place in the world to come if he is careful to do all the commands [because God commanded them to Moses], not one Noahide has reached that level. So whether we think of the World to Come or just this world, we’re all guilty. There is something within me that disagrees with this interpretation of this “seventh” commandment, but I don’t think I have a good response at all apart from the fact that just as Jews are not punished for not being able to perform most of their laws because of the current state of the Temple, in the same way noahides are not punished for this law because many of them are not in the position to change the current world government system except to teach their children and do their best with their example in the eyes of those around them.

Do you have an answer for this?

Details:I’m wanting to live according to God’s Law. Am I continually failing because of this law?

Noahide World Center

In response to the spiritual and value-driven demand for the word of God to be disseminated by the nation of Israel to all of mankind, we have established “Brit Olam – the Noahide World Center” in Jerusalem. We are in constant contact with many people all over the world who have a strong desire to learn the words of God.

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