In words that carry too much meaning to the Pittsburgh Jewish community, the Torah (Gen. 6:13) declares, “The land had become filled with violence.” G-d decided that society could not be saved. The result was a flood, followed by a new era of rebuilding.
Our community faces a similar situation. We, too, must be rebuilt. Yet how can we ensure that “the flood waters (of hatred) never again destroy (the inhabitants of) the land?”
The Torah portion of Noah provides the answer in the form of Seven Universal Laws, which were rooted in Beraishis, emerged in this week’s reading, and were given to the world again by Moses at Mount Sinai:
1. Acknowledge One G-d, the Creator of All.
2. Respect G-d’s Holy Name; do not swear or curse using the Name of G-d.
3. Respect the Sanctity of Human Life; do not murder.
4. Respect the Traditional Family; follow traditional laws of morality.
5. Respect the Property of Others; do not steal.
6. Respect All Creatures; do not cut and eat meat from a living animal.
7. Establish a fair and impatial Judicial System; follow laws of righteousness.
The Seven Universal Laws are the building blocks of society. As Jews and survivors of the worst anti-Semitic act in American history, it is our responsibility to encourage everyone to obey them, no matter what religion they practice or what faith they profess.
In 1983, the Lubavitcher Rebbe issued a call for people to follow the Noahide Laws. This became the basis of a Congressional resolution in 1987 establishing Education Day, USA. The resolution makes note of “the historical tradition of ethical values and principles, which have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws … ”
At the time, I was part of a team of rabbinic students who spent a few weeks in Georgia, distributing literature, meeting with school officials and conducting media interviews. Everywhere we went, we were well-received, as was the Rebbe’s message. Many things have changed in the ensuing 30 years. The need to follow the Universal Moral Rules, however, is perhaps more important than ever before.
The events on Oct. 27, 2018, and at Chabad of Poway, etc., have clearly shown the need to act as moral leaders and teachers. It is more than our duty. It is our destiny as Jews to serve as “a light unto the nations.” By promoting the Seven Universal Laws of Noah may we hasten the time when, in the words of Isaiah, “My House will be called a House of Prayer for all nations.” pjc
Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum is principal of the Yeshiva Boys School. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabomin of Greater Pittsburgh.