Last week's column discussed the first three Noahide Laws. According to Judaism, the Noahide Laws are the seven restrictions given by God to the non-Jewish world. While Jews are required to fulfill 613 commandments, non-Jews are required to fulfill only these seven. Any non-Jew who fulfills the Noahide Laws earns a place in the world to come.
The first three Noahide Laws -- no sexual immorality, no murder and no stealing -- concern interactions between human beings. The next two revolve around man's direct relationship with God.
The fourth Noahide Law prohibits idolatry. The Bible states in Genesis 2:16: "And God commanded the man, saying ... " The fact that God himself commanded the man implies that man must be subservient only to God.
Idolatry includes substitution of any idea or object in God's stead. In today's age, it is rare to find any large group of people openly worshipping physical objects. Different types of idolatry have emerged. Some people worship money above all else. Some worship nature. Some people worship their own appetites. The most common idolatry is the worship of human intellect. This idolatry is often expressed through mass movements. Communism and Nazism are recent examples. Worship of ideology often takes on an openly idolatrous character. Communism deified V.I. Lenin and Josef Stalin, Nazism Adolf Hitler, and Baathism Saddam Hussein.
The fifth Noahide Law condemns blasphemy, cursing God with the use of his name. This prohibition is expressed in Leviticus 24:16: "One who pronounces blasphemously the name of God ... stranger and native alike ... " God created the faculty of human speech in order to allow man to communicate with God through prayer, as well as to elevate interpersonal relationships. Blasphemy is the ultimate misuse of this faculty. Because speech is such an important part of God's world, it must be used for higher purposes.
The final two Noahide Laws concern man's relationship with the world around him. The sixth discusses man's relationship with nature; the seventh revolves around man's relationship to society.