Jews and Non-Jews - Part 1
Real questions, submitted by actual OU Torah followers, with their real answers. NOTE: For questions of practical halacha, please consult your own rabbi for guidance.
Q. Are Noahides considered children of God?
A. Absolutely. Every human being is a child of God (metaphorically speaking).
Q. I was under the impression that the prohibition of "eating the limb of a living animal" applied to non-Jews as well. If so, I'm confused that it only applies to kosher animals.
A. Thanks for your question. There are certain mitzvos that apply to both Jews and non-Jews but the details may differ. There are a number of differences in halacha between how Jews and non-Jews must observe eiver min hachai. (If you've seen the Rashi where Yoseif accuses his brothers of eating eiver min hachai, that's because, being before matan Torah, it was questionable whether they should observe the mitzvos like Jews or like non-Jews.) If eiver min hachai only applies to an animal that one would otherwise be permitted to eat, this would exclude a neveila, a treifa and a pig from the rule of eiver min hachai for a Jew but they'd still be included for a non-Jew.
Put another way, I already can't eat a pig; ripping its leg off doesn't make it any more asur than it already is. A non-Jew may eat a pig but he has to slaughter it first. If he doesn't, then it's eiver min hachai to him.
Q. This person asked me why convert to Judaism if a non-Jew is allowed to enter heaven?
A. Non-Jews are commanded in seven areas, for which they can earn the Next World; Jews are commanded in 613. Non-Jews have to option of sticking with what they have – which is a pretty good deal! – or they can voluntarily assume the additional responsibilities of a Jew by converting. This could be in the hope of earning a better portion in the Next World, but it’s usually motivated by more altruistic religious zeal, such as a desire to get closer to God.
Q. The Halakhah, as established by the Gemara (Sanhedrin 56b) and codified by Rambam in the Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Melachim 9:5) establishes the following sexual prohibitions for non-Jews: adultery, incest, sex between males, zooerasty. To the aforementioned prohibitions, I believe the prohibition of sexual violence must certainly be added.
A. Thanks for your question. The prohibition against sexual immorality in the Noachide laws only addresses relationships that are inherently prohibited. Sexual violence is not among these because the relationship might be permitted if it were consensual. Rather, sexual violence is a form of assault, which is also prohibited, albeit under the rubric of the prohibition against theft.
Rabbi Jack's latest book, Ask Rabbi Jack, is now available from Kodesh Press and on Amazon.com.