I am on vacation for a few days and have traveled to Hyères, a town in the southeast of France, in the Var département, located 15 km (10 m) east of Toulon.
Since this is a first visit, this morning was devoted to walking in the old town center which is situated on a hill. Although not sunny, the weather is still quite mild and the little shops display their goods in the streets.
Most people know about the covenant (Hebrew: ברית, Brit) between God and Abraham. This covenant is found in Bereshit 12-17. However the first covenant between God and man is found in this week’s parshah, Bereshit 8-9, and applies to the whole of mankind. Even if we often forget about this covenant, we all now the sign chosen by God as its reminder, the rainbow, Bereshit 9: 12-16.
אֶת-קַשְׁתִּי, נָתַתִּי בֶּעָנָן; וְהָיְתָה לְאוֹת בְּרִית, בֵּינִי וּבֵין הָאָרֶץ
I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
This covenant requires man to follow 7 laws, known in Judaism as Noahide Laws. Thus for the Talmud: “Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come” (Sanhedrin 105a). Any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as one of “the righteous among the gentiles”.
Here are what these seven laws are:
1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
4. Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit adultery.
5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
6. Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4)
7. Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly. (Wikepedia)
Nowadays a number of non-Jews call themselves B’nei Noah in reference to the Noahide Laws. They belong to a modern monotheistic movement which observes the Seven Laws of Noah but is not united; thus there are several B’nei Noah organizations. They are activally encouraged and supported by Chabad-Lubavitch as well as by a number of Jewish organizations.
Update: This week, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin asks: “Is Judaism a universal religion, with a message for all of humanity, or a national religion, with a message specifically for Jews?”