The Seven Commandment Pages

<< Contents  |  Home >> 
By the grace of G-d 
Copyright © 1997-2017 Nathaniel Segal 

“Internet pages dedicated to teaching the world about the Seven Noahide * Commandments given to humanity by G-d through Moses.  This is the Divine wisdom and set of universal laws and ethics for all who are not Jewish — truly a universal religion.”


At the present time, when the entire world trembles with the birth pains of the Messiah . . . everyone, man and woman, old and young, has the responsibility to ask themselves:

"What have I done, and what am I continuing to do, to lighten the birth pains of the Messiah?
How do I merit being among those who greet our righteous King Messiah?"

— His Holiness, Grand Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950)
The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe *
excerpt from a letter (printed in HaYom Yom)
freely translated from Yiddish


"What more can I do?" asked the Rebbe.  "I've done all that I can."
"The only thing that I can do now is to give all of you the responsibility to actually bring the Messiah."

"Do everything that you can — really everything — to bring our righteous King Messiah."

His Holiness, Grand Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
The Lubavitcher Rebbe
speaking to a worldwide audience, April 1991 *
freely translated from Yiddish and Hebrew


Preface ~ Ease of Reading ~ Readability ~ Translations from Hebrew
Dear Reader ~ Notes

Acknowledgments

This is a work of collaboration.  My earlier postings have been reviewed by one or more members of the Lubavitch * community in and around Chicago, Illinois (what locals call "Chicagoland").  Some of these people contributed through the efforts of the B'nai Ruven Evening Kolel (Chicago) and some through the Tannenbaum Chabad House Sunday Yeshivah study groups (Evanston, Illinois).  Still others contributed in ways that are neither obvious nor direct.

In 1997, I began corresponding by email list with a number of people.  Since then I have met a couple of these people face to face.

(Email lists were a forerunner of blogs.  The owner or manager of the list maintained the ongoing collection of email give and take.)

In March 2000, I attended a symposium in Manhattan sponsored by the law students of Cordozo Law School.

Various forms of assistance have come from a wider circle of family and friends, and especially from the authors and editors of the various publications that are cited in these pages.

Since the late summer of 2008, I have been living in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  Here we see a phenomenal interest in the Seven Noahide Commandments.  Despite this, I haven't submitted newer posts, the newer web pages, for review by anyone.

The final responsibility has always been mine alone – but especially recently.

Since I've been living here in Kansas, I enrolled in the University of Missouri - Kansas City to pursue a bachelor of liberal arts degree (without any major concentration of study).  Therefore, I am aware, at the very least, of the importance and benefits of peer review.  Please take into consideration how some material has not been reviewed.  To put this another way, you the reader are a reviewer.  Your feedback is appreciated.

As editor, I am trying to check and recheck every detail.  Maintaining this repository of information is an ongoing process.  New material is surely being added (G-d willing), and the material that is already here undergoes revision.  Quite likely there are errors, and the editor requests assistance in correcting and clarifying the material.

Again, the final responsibility has always been mine alone.


Preface

There is no one way to present a simple concept.  A great deal depends on the circumstances of who is on the presenting side and who is on the receiving side.  Certainly there is no correct way that precludes alternate approaches and presentations.  All the more so when the subject is complicated, like the Seven Noahide Commandments.

Then toss in the factor of language.  The subject lends itself to discussion in Hebrew and Aramaic, the native languages of the Jewish people over the centuries.  But try presenting these ideas in English!  Try to share the richness of a full-scale value system with people who have virtually no common frame of reference.  Add in the difficulties of persuading an audience to abandon their preconceived notions of what is meant by 'Bible', 'commandments', 'faith', 'worship', 'justice', and so on.  Try taking the sting out of a word like 'sin' so that people can improve themselves without feeling the dread of Divine judgment and retribution.  The easy but cowardly approach is to use euphemisms like 'mistake' or 'error of judgment' and never let the word 'sin' pass the lips.

My favorite reference is to a 'dark side'.  Darkness is simply an absence of light.  Without question, darkness is not an entity.  One does not take up a weapon to fight darkness.  "A little light dispels much darkness."

Then consider that the Satan does exist.  Like all angels, it only carries out instructions from the Almighty himself, including its role as the Angel of death.  Sometimes, its job is to act like a "Trickster," to give us a sense that bad choices are not bad.  But when we Jews call the Trickster / Angel of Death "Satan," some people have mistaken or even erroneous associations with what we say.  The Satan is not a fallen angel.  It has no independence whatsoever from G-d.  There is no satanic realm.

When we reach our end of life, the Satan brings us to the end according to a Divine plan.  "Who will perish by water and who by fire;  who by the sword and who by a wild animal;  who by hunger and who by thirst;  who by earthquake and who by a plague;  who by strangulation and who by stoning (the Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement).

Finally, consider the Talmud's approach to presenting and discussing any topic.  The deep principles of law and religion often lie submerged in a process of give and take.  The Sages of the Talmud propose and then dispose until they arrive at the truth.  A student needs a mentor to guide him or her into such deep waters.  In fact, the mentor needs a mentor – one of the few in any generation who has the Talmud (actually, not just the Talmud but the Entire Oral Tradition) at his finger tips.

Ease of Reading

In an ongoing effort, I've tried to make it as easy as possible to understand what I've written.  Some pages include translation footnotes where I add guides to help pronounce the foreign language words.  Mostly, these words are Hebrew, but sometimes they are Yiddish.

I follow a convention where I usually write transliterations with nothing other than the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet – the ABCs.  No dictionary vowel characters.  But, I have also found that I need an apostrophe (single quote) to represent the really short Hebrew vowel that almost blends one consonant into the next consonant.  I use upper case letters to show which syllable is stressed.  Otherwise, I write the transliteration in lower case letters.  For example, 'trans lit er AY shun' is how I'd help you read the English word 'transliteration' – as spoken in Standard American English.  If I'm not mistaken, in Britain this word is pronounced 'trons lih tuh RAY shun' (in Estuary English, somewhat like the "Queen's English").

For Hebrew words, I indicate the pronunciation in Modern Spoken Hebrew.  On the other hand, I do add the Ashkenazi (traditional European) pronunciation for Hebrew words which are associated with the study of the Torah, both Oral and Written.

Although I consistently use spell checker utilities, I still find misspellings that somehow slip into my text.  Sometimes I even correct spelling when I copy someone else's text.  Lest you think that I'm a jingoist, I'm perfectly comfortable with British spellings.

I'm also comfortable writing contractions.  I want to write pretty much as though I'm speaking to you.  I also begin sentences with 'and' or 'but' even though school teachers forbid this (at least they did in the 1960s).  School teachers also forbid ending a sentence with a preposition, splitting an infinitive, and they insist on using the word 'whom' when appropriate.  And, never ever write anything less than a full sentence.  Can you imagine what I do?  Incidentally, both a university English professor and a professor of journalism never commented on my style.

I liberally insert commas for clarity of reading.  The "extra" ones represent a slight pause or a light breath in speaking.  They help a reader not to slow down – the eye is faster than the language part of our brains.  I've been an avid reader who has had to reread a sentence when the author or copy editor could have inserted a single comma.

In the above paragraphs you will find:

You will also notice that I liberally place dashes – I'm not referring to hyphens – in my sentences.  This is how I prefer to set off parenthetical phrases.  I prefer to avoid using parentheses, and I like white space for the sake of readability.

For me, writing is a craft.

Readability Scores

Some spell checker utilities which come with a word-processing program include readability scores.  This is a feature of both Corel's WordPerfect® and Microsoft's Word®.

Microsoft's Word® uses Flesch-Kincaid standards.  (Need to check what Flesch-Kincaid is.)  According to these standards, the previous section rates:
Grade level: 9.0
8.4 Flesch reading ease: 58 (out of ?)
60 Use of the passive voice: 6% of verb phrases
8 Words per sentence: 14
15 Sentences per paragraph: 3.3
The ratings of the entire page indicate that the full page is slightly more difficult to read although the grade level overall is 8.4.  Go figure.

According to the standards of Corel's WordPerfect® this section rates:
Grade level: 9.4
Use of the passive voice: 6% of verb phrases
Sentence complexity: a score of 29 out of 100
Words per sentence: 14
Sentences per paragraph: 3.2
Vocabulary complexity: 23 out of 100
Short sentences: 14 of 32
Simple sentences: 19 of 32
Long sentences: 0
Big words: 74 of 461 (16%)

According to Corel's WordPerfect® this section is easier to read than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is at a 12.9 grade level.  It's slightly easier to read than the IRS's 1040EZ tax form, which is at a 10.5 grade level.

I try to keep my writing within the high school range (9th to 12th grade).  I have to be mindful, though, that these utilities aren't geared to the special subjects which I write about.  Scores will be skewed towards difficulty since the texts include special or unusual terms.

Translations from Hebrew

Translations of Scripture

Section in development.


Dear reader, please consider this Internet effort to be like a travel guide to a place where you have never been.  Or perhaps you are already at the destination, and this guide will point out attractions that you have missed.  Don't confuse these Internet pages with the destination itself.  I am presenting the Seven Noahide Commandments in summaries.  These pages are like the sketches, maps, and photos in a travel guide.  A very large subject has been reduced to fit on a small page like a landscape photo.  Like a map or a sketch, much detail has been left out.

We live in a fast-paced world.  The Noahide movement is growing so swiftly that I am not able to keep abreast of all the information that is available.  I am also studying the subject from the primary Torah sources, so my understanding of the issues is continually expanding.  Anything in my web site may change as it has already been changing.

So, enjoy!

Looking forward to good news,
Yours truly,
Nathaniel Segal


Notes

Noahide - NOH uh hide
another spelling: Noachide - NOH uh kide

Lubavitcher - loo BAH vitch er;  related to the village Lubavitch in today's northeastern Belarus, near the border with Russia.

Lubavitch - loo BAH vitch

Rebbe - REH bee, REH beh;  a rabbi, teacher, mentor, and leader in the Hasidic tradition.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe - son-in-law of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, October 20, 1991 - "We stand poised on the threshold of the promised Messianic Age."  >>


Acknowledgments ~ Preface ~ Ease of Reading ~ Readability ~ Translations from Hebrew
Dear Reader ~ Notes ~ Top of Page
<< Contents  |  Home >> 
The Seven Commandment Pages / edited by Nathaniel Segal
nathaniel.segal@yahoo.com / first published August '97