Human beings are bound by a universal code ofbehaviourthat the Creator bequeathed to Adam as recorded in Genesis 2:16 and elucidated by Sanhedrin 56b, entitled the 7 Noahide commandments (~Noahide because some of the aspects of this code were explicitly articulated to Noah, and according to Rambam, Hilkhos Melakhim 9:1 the seventh mitzvah was delayed until the post-deluge era). These 7 commandments actually comprise seven spheres of moral obligations which branch out into 30 different provisions (Chullin 92a; cf. Encyclopedia Talmudica, s.v. “Ben Noah”).

At the Sinai Revelation, the Jewish People became charged with twin tasks; to observe its own Torah, and to become the beacon of instruction for all humanity regarding the Noahide Code (NC). Although the consensus of halakhic authorities (with the notable exception of Shu”t Tashbetz 3:133) exempts a Jew from any sort of duty to rebuke a non-Jew who violates the NC, R’ J. David Bleich rules (in his Benesivos Hahalakha, vol. III) on the basis of Makkos 9a that when Jews are asked for guidance concerning the minutiae of the NC, they must provide comprehensive and accurate responses.

The fundamental historical responsibility of every single human being is to recognize the aforementioned divine revelation of the Torah. Recognizing the Sinai Revelation is comparable to believing that the WTC was destroyed on 9/11 – such an incredible yet public spectacle that millions witnessed can never be denied by any intellectually honest person. Thus, the authentic and original system of theology is the NC. Nor does the NC lifestyle ignore the need for a human being to feel a sense of personal superiority (-a natural psychological inclination which propels imaginative thinkers to continually fabricate new religions that wreak havoc with human unity); Leviticus 18:5 is understood to teach that anyone who diligently serves the Almighty by complying with the NC is of equally great stature in holiness as a High Priest (Avodah Zara 3a).

Does the NC forbid warfare? At first glance, an affirmative answer looms, for ultimately, war is comprised of homicidal episodes, and murder is in turn contraindicated by the NC. Yet, we find this question is actually subject to a dispute among poskim. R’ Naftali Tzvi Judah Berlin in his Ha’amek Davar remarkably interprets the prohibition against fratricide enshrined in Genesis 9:5 as suggesting that only in times of brotherly love is murder forbidden; homicide in the context of war is permissible. Likewise does the Gur Aryeh (to Genesis 34:13) explain Shimon and Levi’s attack on Nablus. But don’t launch any warheads yet; stay tuned for next week when the opposite school of thought will be explored.

Part 2: