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Optional observances for non-Jews
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 9:32 am    Post subject: Optional observances for non-Jews Reply with quote

Which parts of Torah observance are forbidden to non-Jews?

It seems there are a variety of opinions..at least among the things I've read from various sources.

Has the Sanhedrin ruled on optional observances for non-Jews?

Specifically I want to know about:

Shabbat
Tefillin
Tzitzit
Prayer book

Is a non-Jew allowed to put on a tallit in private prayer at home? Is a non-Jew allowed to don tefillin in private prayer at home? Is a non-Jew allowed to pray the Amidah? Is a non-Jew allowed to observe Shabbat like a Jew as long as they do one of the 39 prohibited melachot?

Thanks
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 1045
Location: Bnei Brak

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rabbi Schwartz of the nascent Sanhedrin has already written concerning Tefillin and mezuzah here:
http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Yoel_Schwartz
Quote:
It is also important to note that according to some opinions there are some commandments that Noahides should not fulfill because they are connected with holiness and given specifically to Israel. These are the commandments of Tefillin and mezuzah. All agree that the child of Noah should not observe the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as Shabbat, as given to Israel as a day of rest, but it is appropriate for him to inculcate the message of the Shabbat,


And he writes further about Shabbos here:
http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Sabbath_in_Noahide_Law
Quote:
A Noahide should not observe the Shabbat in the manner that a Jew does. Nor should he make a point of abstaining from hard physical work on the Shabbat. A Noahide should not give occasion for a Jew to break the Shabbat.

There are those who say that every Ger Toshav (a non-Jew living in Eretz Yisrael in the time of the Jewish Temple, who has formally accepted the obligation to observe the Noahide laws in front of a Jewish court) has to uphold and keep the Sabbath (Rashi, Kritot 9, Yevamot 40). There is room to suggest that the Noahides, even nowadays, by accepting to fulfill the seven commandments, are in the same category as a Ger Toshav and should, according to Rashi, be required or at least allowed to keep the Shabbat...


It would be good to read the entire article written by Rabbi Schwartz, and note the distinction between Bnei Noah and Ger Toshav which are related but not the same.

There are reasons to feel that the connection with Shabbos may be deeper than other voluntary observances. For example it is generally agreed that "gerecha asher besharecha" referred to in kiddush, specifically refers to gerrei toshav and not gerrei tzedek (converts). That is to say that Jews would make kiddush for non-Jews who lived among them. [Also historians tend to agree that the "candles lit on Friday night throughout Rome" mentioned by Josephus refers to "G-d fearers" (Bnei Noach) and not Jews].

As far as taking on Jewish customs, please note that the idea of "voluntarily taking on" mitzvos from the list of 613 mitzvos with a few exceptions, is based on the Rambam's exposition of Noahide law. Other authorities, such as Rabbi Benamozegh, describe Noahidism differently. They imply that each of the 70 nations has its own "mitzvos", its own unique way to serve G-d. If a national faith were to be divorced from idolatry and adhere to the seven laws, it would be more appropriate for a non-Jew to follow their customs than to adopt Jewish ones. In fact in an ideal world, a non-Jew would be obligated by his or her national faith, just as a Jew is obligated in theirs. According to this view, Judaism doesn't seek proselytes because non-Jews have their own purpose to fulfill, and proselytism interferes with this. Those who follow the Rambam disagree with this view.

I have submitted this question to the Beis Din for matters concerning Bnei Noach, and will B"N post their reply here.

Best wishes
Ben
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:46 pm    Post subject: thanks Reply with quote

I feel compelled by HaShem to observe Shabbat at least in some way and I have seen from Isaiah 56 as well as the Exodus 20 that there is at least some Universal significance and application of the Shabbat. I will definitely lean toward accepting any Rabbinical views that see the text this way too because I think it is very clear. I know they do exist. I was under the impression that the Sanhedrin at least allowed some observance of Shabbat.

I also know that the Shabbat is a special sign between Israel and HaShem and don't want to undermine that in any way.

Thanks.
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NoachideJoe



Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, holdiingontoTruth,

Since you are not Jewish, and have not been raised as such (I'm assuming here, of course, due to the content of your question), it is extremely unlikely that you would even be able to observe shabbat as the Jews do. It has been suggested that this is enough for a Noachide to do his/her observation of shabbat in their own way. However, it seems to make more sense to me, and has been confirmed by others, that it is probably better to intentionally do something that the Jews are forbidden from doing on shabbat (e.g. flip on a light switch or strike a match). As long as we don't do what is specifically beween G-d and the Jews, we're OK.

Regarding the prayer book aspect of your question, I have read that it is forbidden for Noachides to recite some of the blessings. However, the prayers ARE allowed with the exceptions where it is implied that the connection specifically refers to G-d and Israel (e.g. "...and the G-d of my forefathers..." - this applies specifically to the Jews, and so is inappropriate for a Noachide to say). On a side note, there is now a "Noachide Siddur" available to us, that has rabbinic approbation, if you are interested. I have also read that another is in the works.
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:41 am    Post subject: Shalom Joe Reply with quote

Thanks Joe for the comments.

I have learned at least the basics of Jewish halakah and the Shabbat and we are careful to intentionally do something that a Jew is forbidden to do on the Shabbat. We usually carry our child and other small objects without an erev and we touch a lot of things that are forbidden to touch for Jews on Shabbat. I pick up my cat and pet her, even outside, etc.

We don't drive but I don't think it would be a sin for us to do this, I just think it takes away from the special feeling of the day and could incline us to treat it like any other day, which I do not want to do. The day itself is Holy, HaShem made it that way. We want to focus on prayer, learning, and enjoying creation on Shabbat.

We call it the Shabbat because HaShem calls it the Shabbat and the TaNaKh calls it that. I find it strange that some Rabbis teach that we must not call it the Shabbat, but then encourage reading of Psalm 92 on the 'seventh day' which uses the word 'Shabbat.'

Even if the complete Shabbat rest is not for us, its still the Shabbat no?

My wife lights candles before Shabbat and we say our own prayers. I read the passage from Bereshit and say the blessing over wine and we have challah most of the time.

We don't worry about having 3 sit down meals during the day and we don't pray the mussaf prayers, but we do pray a lot of Shacharit and Minchah prayers.

I do say 'God of our fathers' because HaShem is also the God of Noach and Adam, as well as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I pray to their God. He is also my God. I pray the whole Amidah currently and I add my own prayers and sometimes change the wording if I feel uncomfortable with saying some of it myself...but most I don't see that it is a problem.

I want to be in line with the halakah on this and don't want to be in rebellion, but I also know there are lots of opinions out there and some Rabbi's encourage non-Jews in some type of Shabbat observance and even in praying the prayers in the siddur.

thanks for the chat.
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 1045
Location: Bnei Brak

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:45 am    Post subject: Re: Shalom Joe Reply with quote

holdingontoTruth wrote:
I want to be in line with the halakah on this and don't want to be in rebellion, but I also know there are lots of opinions out there and some Rabbi's encourage non-Jews in some type of Shabbat observance and even in praying the prayers in the siddur. thanks for the chat.

This is the opinion of Rabbi Schwartz. (See his opinion with others at
http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Prayer_under_Noahide_Law)

Rabbi Schwartz also was one of several Rabbis who reviewed a Noahide prayer book that was recently published by the Oklahoma B'nai Noah Society. Prayer Book: Service From The Heart - Renewing the Ancient Path of Biblical Prayer and Service ISBN 978-0-6151-6402-1 (Paperback) A preview can be seen here:
http://www.lulu.com/content/1177327

There is a lot of information at wikinoah.org, concerning approaches and legal decisions concerning these issues. Its good to understand the distinctions betweens the approaches so that one can make sense of various rulings and advice by different groups.

Best wishes
Binyomin
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 1045
Location: Bnei Brak

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an article about the new prayer book in Breslov World by their Noahide correspondent Alice Jonsson

http://www.breslovworld.com/DynamicArtical.aspx?linknumber=2868

There is a touching Chassidic story about a Jew with little education who is struggling to pray in Hebrew, a language he doesn’t speak. Instead of giving up, he gets resourceful and prays to Hashem using the aleph bet, the only Hebrew he knows. When a rabbi questions him about what he’s doing, he says, "The Holy One, Blessed is He, knows what is in my heart. I will give Him the letters, and He can put the words together." (jewfaq.org) There are many lesson to be gleaned from this story and many reasons it speaks to me. I often find myself praying that Hashem will look into my heart when I can’t find the right words, or that Hashem will look into my heart when I might be using the wrong ones from a siddur designed for Jews.

For thousands of years dedicated and brilliant rabbis have worked to spell out what the daily routine of a Jew should be, structured prayer playing a central role. Structured prayer is not required for a Ben or Bat Noach so there is no such routine, despite our common belief system. This feels like both a blessing and a curse. There are many Jews out there who in the midst of a grass-is-greener moment may wish there was a bit less structure to their day, which is understandable. But there are many Bnei Noach who long for the comforts of structured prayer, the grounding effects it has, the lessons it reinforces, and the connection it gives to other Torah-believers - just to name a few of the benefits.

Pam and Larry Rogers and Nancy January of the Oklahoma B’nai Noach Society (OKBNS) decided to fill the void and created a kosher source of prayers for Bnei Noach seeking it. They joined forces with Orthodox rabbis and Bnei Noach from as far away as Singapore and Australia to create a prayer siddur called Service From the Heart, and it is an amazing undertaking. This siddur is a collection of prayers taken from the Jewish tradition that have been carefully altered under the watchful eye of educated and respected rabbis to make them appropriate for the gentile speaker. It took over ten years to create, emailing copy back and forth to Israel- translating it in and out of Hebrew- rescuing remnants from computer crashes, and combining and editing prayers contributed by many creative Bnei Noach from places as far away as Australia and Singapore.

Some of the rabbis who contributed to the project are Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, senior lecturer at Yeshivat Dvar Yerushalayim and prolific author; Rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman author and lecturer; Rabbi Yechiel Sitzman lecturer at Yeshivat Dvar Yerushalayim; and Rabbi Michael Katz of Florida who is extremely knowledgeable about issues pertaining to Bnei Noach. Rabbi Katz also wrote the foreword, which is both elegant and informative.

The team involved in creating the siddur is helping to bring quality instruction and resources to the Noahide movement. For Bnei Noach who want to learn the minimum and do the minimum, this isn’t such an issue. But for those who want to go even a little bit beyond the minimum, finding material that is both deep enough and offers legitimate scholarship is quite challenging. It is very encouraging to folks considering the path of the righteous gentile to have easy access to resources that are intellectually rigorous, speak to them spiritually, and most importantly are connected with established Orthodox Jewish institutions and/or respected, experienced rabbis.

In addition to prayers, Service From the Heart offers a brief history, a wedding service, a baby naming, and even a funeral service. The OKBNS sees the siddur as a springboard that can, God willing, be elaborated on. They offer it as a humble beginning and hope to continue collaborating with Jews and gentiles to create more resources for Bnei Noach around the globe. They are in search of folks who are willing to share their time and knowledge of French, German, or Hebrew to create translations of the siddur for which there is already a demand.

It takes an enormous amount of courage for Gentiles to venture into the world of Orthodox Judaism. We must walk the tightrope between being overly assertive in pursuit of one’s faith and cautious to never be arrogant or offensive. You may feel like a guest one minute, a relative the next -- and sometimes even a trespasser. Above all we may feel trepidatious about offending Hashem by going too far, yet nervous we aren’t doing enough. At times, I find it a quite uncomfortable place to be, and I’m probably not alone. This siddur offers those interested in experimenting with structured prayer as a means to connecting with Hashem a comfortable, practical, and sound starting point.

For those interested in an unstructured approach to prayer that I have found life changing, there is the Breslev approach to spontaneous prayer called hithbodeduth. You can read all about it in “Outpouring of the Soul,” a translation of Rabbi Alter of Teplik's classic "Hishtapchut HaNefesh," a compilation of Rebbe Nachman's teachings on Hitbodedut. In addition, Rabbi Shalom Arush’s The Garden of Yearning, translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody, gives wonderful and astute guidance about the proper approach to hitbodedut (meditation with a focus on personal prayer). Whichever approach you choose, remember that Hashem always wants to hear from you, so as the prophet Jeremiah said, “…pour out your heart like water before God…”
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Shalom Joe Reply with quote

Binyomin wrote:

Rabbi Schwartz also was one of several Rabbis who reviewed a Noahide prayer book that was recently published by the Oklahoma B'nai Noah Society. Prayer Book: Service From The Heart - Renewing the Ancient Path of Biblical Prayer and Service ISBN 978-0-6151-6402-1 (Paperback) A preview can be seen here:
http://www.lulu.com/content/1177327

There is a lot of information at wikinoah.org, concerning approaches and legal decisions concerning these issues. Its good to understand the distinctions betweens the approaches so that one can make sense of various rulings and advice by different groups.

Best wishes
Binyomin


Is there no Hebrew in this Prayer book? I have spent many hours over the past years learning to pray in the Holy tongue and I prefer to pray the Psalms, etc in Hebrew. I do also practice Hitbodedut in English (although I do not do it enough and have much growing to do in this area) and I am familiar with the teachings of R. Nachman on this issue. I guess one could just have a Hebrew Tehillim along with this siddur..but if there is an abridged or altered form or the Amidah in it, it would be nice to have that in Hebrew, as well as all the other blessings.

Thanks Binyomin
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 1045
Location: Bnei Brak

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The spokesman for the Beis Din provided me with this reply:
Quote:
The Sanhedrin has accepted the ruling of Rabbi Haim Kaniewski in שונה הלכות that, if a ben noah - after having taken upon himself the "seven", wishes to take upon himself ANY other mitzva including Shabbat - he may do so.

As you may remember there were discussions about which kind of Tsitsith a BN should wear.

As far as recommending their observance - that is quite another story.

RYH

This means that according to Jewish law, as poskened by this court, a ben noah who has taken on the seven laws, is permitted to keep Shabbat [apparently as Jews do]. They are also permitted to wear Tsitsith. (And based on previous statements this also includes praying from a Jewish Siddur).

However, just because a BN is permitted according to Jewish law to do these things, this does not mean that a BN is necessarily recommended to do so.

* There are some authorities (like Rabbi Benamozegh) who recommend that BN follow their own form of worship (for example he recommend that Aimé Pallière continue in a modified form of Catholicism).

* The Rambam disallows a few mitzvot for the BN, but otherwise he says that there is reward in BN taking on Jewish mitzvot. It should be noted that the Rambam does not recommend BN to take on Jewish mitzvot, but says אין מונעין אותו לעשות אותה כהלכתה "they are not prevented from taking them on according to their precise observance [in Judaism]".

* Rabbi Schwartz takes a middle ground. He does not recommend or discourage BN to take on Jewish mitzvot. Based on Rabbi Kaniewski, he rules that it is permitted for an observant BN to take on any mitzvah. For those mitzvot which the Rambam advises against, Rabbi Schwartz recommends that they be modified their observance in various ways, and various ways have been discussed. This is a recommendation, not a ruling.

Practically speaking this means that one BN should not condemn another BN who does or does not keep Shabbat or wear Tsitsit. The problem with the Siddur is that there are statements which don't make sense for a BN to say, but there is nothing in a Jewish siddur which is forbidden for a BN to pray. As far as the advisability of taking on Jewish mitzvot, there are several issues involved and the beis din will hopefully address them in the future.

Best wishes
Binyomin
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 1:38 am    Post subject: Wow! Reply with quote

I wasn't expecting that answer! Wow! Thanks for the information. I don't know the previous discussion concerning tzitzit. Can you help me with that?
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:05 am    Post subject: another question Reply with quote

Who is Rabbi Haim Kaniewski and is his ruling on this written in Hebrew only? How can I find out more about this Rabbi? I searched online for his name and all the sites are French that I found. Is there anything in English about this wonderful man?
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:30 am    Post subject: Re: another question Reply with quote

holdingontoTruth wrote:
Who is Rabbi Haim Kaniewski and is his ruling on this written in Hebrew only? How can I find out more about this Rabbi? I searched online for his name and all the sites are French that I found. Is there anything in English about this wonderful man?


Here is some information about Rabbi Kanievsky. He is a quite well known authority. Rabbi Schwartz quoted from his work "Shoneh Halachos". His works are only in Hebrew.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaim_Kanievsky

The discussion about Tsitsit referred to recommendations on how it could be modified. Including rainbow colored threads, or using another garment like a robe, scarf, or shawl. I don't have these discussion online, but I think it is covered in the Noahide prayerbook.

There is a collection of opinions at wikinoah, here
http://en.wikinoah.org/index.php/Optional_observances_for_non-Jews
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:24 am    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thanks again Binyomin for the information.

By the way, is there any official documentation of the ruling stated above which allows non-Jews to take on any of the Jewish mitsvot?

Also, I don't know much about you, are you a Rabbi and can you also tell me who the spokesman for the Beis Din is that you quoted above?

Thanks a lot for your time and help. May HaShem bless you greatly.
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Binyomin



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am director of an organization called "Friends of the Sanhedrin", which is not part of the Sanhedrin itself. It is sort of a "fan-club" of supporters and not-yet-supporters, who would like to see the idea of a Sanhedrin succeed. By explaining concepts, terms and the actions of the nascent Sanhedrin which may be foreign to many people, we try to make the whole project more accessible and understandable to english speakers. We are always looking for more helpers Smile

I don't have the exact quote from Shoneh Halachos, I will try and get it.

The statement made here on this forum and in wikinoah may be quoted directly.

The spokesman for the Beis Din for matters concerning Bnei Noah is Rabbi Y. Hollander. I believe he is also the english language spokesman for the nascent Sanhedrin.

Best wishes
Binyomin
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holdingontoTruth



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: shoneh halachos Reply with quote

Shalom Binyomin,

I hope all is well with you and your family. I would like to know how I can contact Rabbi Y. Hollander. Also, have you had any luck finding the quote/ruling from shoneh halachos? Where can one get a copy of this?

Thank you.
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