God Of Jews, God Of Humanity

The seven Noahide commandments mediate God's love for all of humanity and God's unique relationship with the Jewish people.

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Judgment & The Seven Laws of Noah  

All humanity is commanded by God; all people have mitzvot to observe.  Those seven laws of Noah are the fundamental expectation that God has for all. According to Judaism, then, God judges humanity not for the creed to which they adhere, not for which group or institution receives their support, but for the kind of people they make themselves.  God commands decency, morality and goodness from everyone--Jewish or Gentile.  And based on just how godly a Gentile is, to that extent are they beloved of God. 

In the words of the medieval sage, Rambam (12th Century, Spain and Egypt) "whoever accepts the seven commandments and carefully observes them, is among the pious ones of the nations of the world, and enjoys a share of the hereafter--provided that they accept and perform them because the Holy Blessed One ordained them."

What Distinguishes Jews From Other B'nai Noah?

A righteous Gentile is a full child of God--to be cherished by all who give God allegiance, regardless of their religious affiliation.  What matters, according to traditional Judaism, is goodness. That same requirement binds Jews as well.  After all, we too are Children of Noah. 

What distinguishes Jews from other B'nai Noah is that we are also privileged by the rest of the mitzvot, the entire web of sacred deeds that nurtures and gives expression to the specific brit (covenant) between God and our People.  It is those additional standards that make our relationship specific and unique.  They supplement the Noahide laws; they do not replace them. God demands goodness of the Jew no less than of the non-Jew, and loves the Gentile no less than the Jew. And so should we.

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Rabbi Bradley Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies. He served as a congregational rabbi in Southern California for ten years. Rabbi Artson?is the author of The Bedside Torah and co-author of a children's book, I Have Some Questions about God.