Author Topic: The Project pt 9: The Divine Code – God’s law at last  (Read 468 times)

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Online Hrvatski Noahid

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The Project pt 9: The Divine Code – God’s law at last
« on: April 12, 2020, 10:23:01 PM »

Back to The Divine Code.

And, for me personally, chapter 3 of Part II is a thing of relative beauty. Why? Because at long last, the rabbi starts actually getting into the meaty details of the prohibition against idolatry for Gentiles, what the actions are that make one liable and what actions are outside of the boundaries of the law.

I couldn’t say it was perfect, but … well, maybe I’ve been going through this book through so many pages, sections and chapters, waiting for the actual seven laws, that, when I finally hit upon a substantial part that actually seeks to detail those laws, I’ll take almost anything. But I should not let my guard down. I still need to read through this section and ponder on it, not uncritically.

So after reading the 36 topics in this section, I have positive views on this section but some mixed feelings as well. At the very least, it attempts to detail those acts where the Gentile righteous court may have grounds to pursue the death penalty.

The first topics seem rather simple: don’t worship an idol according to its usual manner of worship or with any of the four special services performed in the Jewist Temple: ritual slaughter, libation, offering incense and prostrating to the idol. It’s interesting learning the difference between the sort of prostration that breaks the law because it falls in line with Jewish Temple prostration and the sort of bowing that doesn’t necessarily break the law but rather depends on whether it’s the customary way of worshipping an idol or not.

But, if what Maimonides says is true, that the seven laws inclines to what is rational, then I struggle with some parts of this chapter. There’s this principle about “breaking a stick.” Let me see if I can describe it well enough, see if I understand it.

So doing the ritual slaughter of a living animal to an idol makes one liable, regardless of whether it’s a customary rite or not. But, for example, if a certain form of idolatry involves a stick, such as waving a stick to the idol, then doing that waving makes one liable. If you do that to another idol which has no such customary worship, then you wouldn’t be liable. That makes sense to me.

But if I now go to the idol which has stick waving as part of its worship, but not damaging the stick at all or breaking it, and I then break the stick in front of the idol, I would be liable, because now it’s is as if I’m doing a ritual slaughter.

The principle seems to be that if there is some object that is part of the main aspect of worship to an idol, then to break it or to kill it is in the category of ritual slaughtering. So the same would apply to fish or a rock.

How that works, I have no idea. It makes no sense to me. But it’s supposed to be part of the core law for Gentiles. And there are footnotes for this with Maimonides and someone called the “Raavad” agreeing, although someone called “Ramah” disagrees (according to the footnote/commentary from the version of Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Worship of Stars, 3:4, found at

And this is what kinda concerns me about the details of the seven laws that others are much more comfortable with. The fact that there are details of the core law that are locked away from our Gentile understanding yet the Jew knows (apparently). We simply have to take it that the Jew knows best and we must obey … until another Jew says differently. And then we’re supposed to go with the strictest view, right? Right?

I’m not gonna make this long. I just want to take a step forward.