Holy Moses

A Glimpse At The History Of G-d’s Laws
As Conveyed By The Father Of Prophets

 G-d created the world. It is a place where His presence is not readily apparent. G-d’s ultimate plan is that human beings should transform the world into a place where His presence is apparent at every turn. To this end He gave us a manual, a User’s Guide. By following its instructions we transform the world into a G-dly place. Our own lives, of course, become G-dly as well, and imbued with blessing and fulfillment.


 At times, it may seem to us that ignoring the Guide and doing whatever our hearts desire is the best thing in the world, but the truth is that it conceals G-d’s presence and ultimately leads to misery. Following G-d’s instructions, by contrast, may sometimes seem like a burden, but ultimately it reveals His presence and is magnificently rewarding.

 So what are G-d’s instructions, and how do we know of them?

 In the year 1310 BCE (Before Common Era), Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt and told them that they were being led to Mount Sinai where G-d would speak to them. Moses’ promise was fulfilled when seven weeks after the Exodus G-d manifested His presence on Mount Sinai and spoke the Ten Commandments. It was this event that proved conclusively that Moses was a prophet. Once this was established it was only natural for the other Commandments that Moses conveyed in G-d’s Name, to be considered of Divine origin, equal in status to the Ten Commandments. Moses later transcribed all of the 613 Commandments -- and the historical events associated with their giving -- on a scroll of parchment. This body of knowledge, narrative and law came to be known as The Five Books of Moses, or the ‘Torah’ in Hebrew.


 The Five Books were transcribed in very concise form; without proper guidance, it is very easy to interpret their teachings in an erroneous manner. G-d therefore communicated to Moses an oral commentary on The Five Books, including various principles of analysis and interpretation, which Moses then conveyed to the Israelites. Many years later, when people’s minds grew weaker, the Sages of Israel committed the Oral Tradition to writing, and it came to be known as The Talmud. Also included in the Oral Tradition are The Zohar, The Midrash and a few other transcripts.
 From the era of Moses until the era of the Talmudic Sages, G-d’s word was conveyed by the Prophets. This does not mean that they added to, subtracted from, or changed anything of the Books of Moses, for the Books themselves attest to their own eternal relevance and immutability. In other words, G-d Himself said that the words He spoke to Moses would remain the unaltered ‘Guide’ for all times. The job of the prophets was simply to encourage and inspire the Israelites to adhere to G-d’s law. They did this by describing, through prophetic vision, exactly what the future held in store for those who would follow the Divine instructions, and what it held in store for those would not. In doing this they often had to explain, clarify and elaborate on the concepts, themes and commandments contained in The Five Books.


 A prophet was deemed authentic only if he or she possessed the special qualifications set forth in The Five Books and elucidated in the Oral Tradition. The visions and teachings of the Prophets are recorded in the books known as The Prophets, i.e., Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and The Twelve Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi). They are considered part and parcel of the Written Tradition.
 Also included in the Written Tradition are the divinely inspired Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. In summary, G-d’s communication consists of two parts: The Written Torah and the Oral Torah.


 Moses’ Books teach us that there is a select group among the Israelites, whose mission it is to serve as teachers and role models for the rest of the nation. They are known as the ‘Kohanim’ or Priests. The relationship between the Kohanim and the Israelites is analogous to the relationship between a head and a body. Both are necessary and indispensable.
 A similar relationship exists between the Israelites -- known today as the Jewish People -- and the rest of Humanity. It is the mission of the Israelites to serve as a light unto the nations, and it is the mission of the nations to be the beneficiaries of that light. Only when the two interact harmoniously can G-d’s vision for His world become reality.


 Just as the Children of Israel accomplish their mission by adhering to the 613 Commandments, so too -- according to the Oral Torah -- does Humanity as a whole, accomplish its mission by adhering to 7 particular Commandments from among the 613. These 7 Commandments are known as the 7 Noahide Laws, because Humanity -- who must follow these laws -- is descended of Noah. The laws are listed below.
 
 So why are there so many religions?

 The answer is quite simple: Human beings naturally resist being told what to do. Yet when we ignore G-d’s instructions and do as we please, we feel very guilty. If we want to follow the lusts of our heart and not feel guilty afterwards, we are left with only one choice -- to justify our behavior; to convince others and ourselves that we are not doing the wrong thing. Man-made Religion is the perfect tool for this. It allows us to vent our negative impulses under the illusion that we are serving some higher power.


  There thus came to be many religions -- tailor-made to suit the purposes of their conceivers and adherents. Among the things encouraged by some of these religions were forced conversions, conquest of other countries, attribution of Human form to G-d, sexual immorality, genocide, and the list goes on.
  Some of these atrocities exist even today, albeit in different form. Forced conversions for example, can take the form of psychological coercion (‘brainwashing’ to use a common terminology), blackmail, bribery or various other forms of manipulation. Immorality runs rampant in our visual and audio entertainment and advertisements, not to mention its other embodiments. The ascription of Human form to G-d is still a very prevalent misfortune, especially in Western countries. 
 
 It is our responsibility and our privilege to transform the world into the divine abode G-d intended it to be. Let’s join together in following the Guide and in doing, finally, what is truly right. 

  The 7 Laws are listed in the Talmud -- Tractate Sanhedrin, page 56a. They are:

1. Do not worship idols.
2. Do not blaspheme.
3.Do not murder 
4. Do not commit adultery
5. Do not steal
6. Establish courts of law
7. Do not eat the limb of a living animal
 
 In their broader sense they encompass:
 
 1. Belief in G-d.
 2. Respect for G-d.
 3. Value and respect for Human life.
 4. Respect for the intimate nature of marriage and for the privacy of the body.  
 5. Respect for Human rights.
 6. Pursuit of Justice.
 7. Respect for all creatures.