Are Gentiles to Follow Torah?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: Thank you for your response and patience during the course of this conversation.
Yes , it is true that the Torah is given to the masses at Sinai. However the "masses" is confined to the mixed multitude that left Eqypt.
Rabbi: You omit the Torah’s record of the children of Jacob, the tribes and their household names. Numbers commences with names and a count of the Jewish men alone above age 20.
Reader: Moses commanded that these revelations be taught to the descendants of the mixed multitude i.e Israel. There are no textual indication which mentioned that they are commanded to "go around the world and preach the Torah".
Rabbi: Yes, God’s command of Torah adherence is upon the Jew alone. The other nations as a whole rejected monotheism: they were all idolaters, except Abraham. God communicated with Abraham, protected him, taught him through prophecy and gave his seed the Torah. The Jew is now to observe Torah, not only for himself, but as God says, “Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people” (Deut. 4:6). Thus, Torah disagrees with your assessment. Torah says our actions will impress the other nations. We are to act in a way that gives the proper impression of Torah to others. Why? Because God wishes all people to find Torah impressive, for the purpose of following it. But we don’t preach it. Rather, we embody the lifestyle and welcome all who wish to benefit. Be mindful that every human being is equal, sharing the same potential of benefitting from God’s one religion. It is nonsensical the God creates so many nations and only wants the best life for just one of those nations. God's actions are not futile, and such an opinion would suggest that the existence of all nations but the Jews, is futile.
The prophets too, many times discuss how in the future, all nations will recognize Judaism as the truth and their beliefs as false. Se for example the haftorah we just read this past shabbos, (Jer. 16:19):
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, My refuge in a day of trouble, To You nations shall come From the ends of the earth and say: Our fathers inherited utter delusions, Things that are futile and worthless.
God’s prophets reveal the objective is for mankind, not just the Jews.
Consider: God sent Jonah to Ninveh that they repent, and Moses to Pharaoh exposing their idols as helpless. God wished these nations to follow him. These examples are to educate all people today.
When the queen of Sheba visited King Solomon and presented him with numerous questions, her response to his wisdom was this:
When the queen of Sheba observed all of Solomon’s wisdom, and the palace he had built, the fare of his table, the seating of his courtiers, the service and attire of his attendants, and his wine service, and the burnt offerings that he offered at the House of the LORD, she was left breathless. She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own land about you and your wisdom was true. But I did not believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes that not even the half had been told me; your wisdom and wealth surpass the reports that I heard. How fortunate are your men and how fortunate are these your courtiers, who are always in attendance on you and can hear your wisdom! Praised be the LORD your God, who delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel. It is because of the LORD’s everlasting love for Israel that He made you king to administer justice and righteousness.
The queen attested to the truth of Torah’s ways.
Ruth too recognized the truth of Torah and abandoned her Moabite religion. She is the example from which we derive conversion laws. Her offspring are Kings David and Solomon, and eventually, the Messiah.
Reader: Let's take the 1st commandment -prohibition against idolatry as an example.
Most Jewish opinion say that Christianity is prohibited for the Jew , but is permissible for the Gentile.
Christianity is a shituf (partnership) -which is of a lesser degree than idolatry.
Rabbi: This is false: what is wrong is determined by the idea, not the follower. Furthermore, what is wrong for one person is wrong for every person, as we are all equals. Idolatry is one of the seven Noachide laws.
Reader: Only a handful of Rabbis including yourself categorize Christianity as idolatry and that it is prohibited for both Jew and Gentile.
Rabbi: Truth is not defined by numbers, but by principles, and I believe intelligently, you can discern that worshipping anything but God is wrong. God alone created everything. How can anything else earn our prayers? Those who believe God became Jesus, follow an idolatrous notion. The concept of the trinity too is heretical.
Reader: I don't blame them for having that sort of opinion because the command was specifically given by the G-d of Israel to those who were at Sinai. In addition , the nations of the world did not have a covenant relationship with the G-d of Israel.
Why should I, a non Jew obey a command that was not specifically directed to me?
Rabbi: Although you are not commanded, the Deuteronomy above should now clearly show you that you share the same potential as a Jew. Many gentiles throughout time recognized the truth of Judaism being God’s only religion, that it is all based on proof and reason, and therefore they converted and became some of our greatest leaders.
Abraham is a primary example of this behavior. Although being raised following idolatry, when he used his intelligence to discover God, and started teaching the masses, he embodied what God loves: a person who uses intelligence to arrive at truth. Abraham did not say that since he was raised as an idolater, that justified such a lifestyle. But he recognized his capacity of intelligence, and he engaged it. God therefore created a nation from him because he was the specimen of the perfect man. God desired that his offspring would be examples for the rest of the world. This explains the numerous verses in Torah that the convert and born Jew follow the identical Torah system.
Again, god's selection of Abraham and positioning him as the forerunner of the Jewish nation is precisely to teach every human of the proper lifestyle, that being, a person who uses his mind to arrive at truth. Abraham is now an example for every Gentile who should follow his example of abandoning a false religion and cleaving to the correct religion.