As we discussed,
within the Torah
there is a
known as, " The
Seven Mitzvos of
the Children of
Noah. " In
also has the
to fulfill the
mitzvos of the
Torah which are
reason and the
the heart. The
that a Gentile
who studies the
Torah in order
and fulfill its
is like a
- a High Priest
that the Talmud
is calling on us
to honor such a
person as we
would honor a
For a number of years, I have had the privilege of reading inspiring letters from a courageous woman living in a Muslim country. She decided to follow the universal path of the Torah, and she has become a loyal friend of our people, despite the fact that the government of her country promotes anti-Jewish hatred. Her courageous sons also share her beliefs.
Her willingness to study with the Torah teachers of our people is a reminder that Hashem chose us for a universal purpose. According to the classical commentator, Sforno, we were reminded of this universal purpose when we heard the following Divine proclamation at Mount Sinai:
"You shall be to Me a kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation" Exodus 19:6).
Kohanim are the descendants of Aaron who serve as teachers and models for our people. Sforno explains that the above Divine proclamation is revealing that our people are to serve as Kohanim to the peoples of the earth. He explains that we are "to understand and to teach humankind that all shall proclaim the Name of Hashem and serve Him with a united resolve." Sforno adds that this will be the recognized role of our people in the future, as it says: "And you will be called the Kohanim of Hashem, 'ministers of our God' will be said of you" (Isaiah 61:6); moreover, it says, "From Zion will go forth Torah" (Isaiah 2:3). Ibn Ezra, another classical commentator, explains that the relationship of Israel to the peoples of the earth will parallel the relationship of the descendants of Aaron to the tribes of Israel (commentary to Isaiah 61:6).
In our role as Kohanim to humanity, are we to go out to all the peoples and preach to them? The beginning of an answer can be found in the following words of the Prophet Malachi: "For the lips of the Kohen should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek teaching from his mouth; for he is a messenger of Hashem, God of all the hosts of creation." (Malachi 2:7). A Kohen who properly fulfills his task does not need to actively seek followers, as people will "seek teaching from his mouth." They will recognize through his words and deeds that he is a true messenger of Hashem. In this spirit, we should strive to become a model of the Divine Teaching, so that others will seek to study Torah with us.
The noble woman that I am discussing in this letter sought to find Torah teachers to guide her, and I therefore referred her to a number of rabbis. She is a dedicated seeker of truth who has gained the admiration and respect of all who have had the privilege to correspond with her. I am therefore sharing with you the following excerpts from an article about her by Rabbi Avi Shafran which was sent to the Jewish media a couple of years ago:
A VIEW FROM AFAR
Rabbi Avi Shafran
To name the Muslim country where she lives would compromise her security; the authorities there do not look favorably on citizens who communicate with Jews. Her husband is a Hindu and she, although born a Christian, long ago abandoned her family’s religion and pledged herself to the Torah.
“Tehilla,” however, as I’ll call her, has not converted, and has no plans to convert. She and her two adult sons are “Noahides” – non-Jews who have come to the conclusion that the Jewish religious tradition is true and who have undertaken observance of the “seven laws of the children of Noah” – the basic moral precepts that Judaism prescribes for all of humanity…
There are Noahides in Australia, Asia, Europe and here in the United States (a good number of them, for some reason, in Tennessee, Georgia and Texas). Many face formidable societal obstacles, though Tehilla, considering where she lives, likely faces more than most.
“Tehilla,” which means “praise” in Hebrew, is an appropriate alias for someone so filled with admiration for the Jewish people. Her studies of Judaism over years, by internet and e-mail, and her interaction with various rabbis around the world, have endeared the Jewish people and the Jewish religion to her – and endeared her to her mentors. Jews, to be sure, are enjoined from proselytizing to non-Jews, but Tehilla is self-motivated (an understatement); those, like me, who correspond with her are simply answering her queries – and being inspired by her observations, rendered in fluent English.
Her empathy for Jews, especially in Israel, is deep. “I can imagine,” she writes, “their anguish every morning when they send their children to school, not knowing what might happen on the way...
“After meeting your people [by e-mail],” she once wrote, “I cannot understand how such a warm, compassionate and humane people can be so persecuted and so misunderstood.”
And, from other e-mails:
“One thing the mighty nations are not absorbing is history. Even if they don’t believe the Scriptures per se, history itself is proof enough that your nation’s survival is the living and continuous miracle personally brought about by G-d.”
“G-d will never allow you to fall, in the merit of your patriarchs and prophets… soon G-d is going to say ‘enough’ to your tears…”
“All I can pray is when Hashem decides it’s time for all your sufferings to be over, He will show us Gentiles the compassion we failed to show you all.”
Tehilla is not only an observer of history and the world around her but an example of commitment to self-betterment on a personal level. She keeps a picture of the Chofetz Chaim, the saintly scholar who died shortly before the Holocaust and who wrote definitive works on the laws of proper speech. She has studied his works because, as she once explained, “when I am angry I speak without thinking. The Chofetz Chaim has really changed my life and I am really trying to live up to his guidance.”
She is a charitable woman as well, and personally cared for a dying relative by marriage who had for years ridiculed her for her choices.
“My sons and I are… trying our best to do our part for the needy,” she once explained.
And she looks forward to the Messiah’s arrival with eagerness: “The greatest blessing for believing Gentiles like us is to be able to live where we can study … without fear and acknowledge Hashem as the supreme G-d and you all as His chosen.”
In fact, Tehilla’s dedication to our people and our faith can sometimes sting, forcing her readers to recognize their own imperfect appreciation of their wonderful lot in life as Jews.
“It’s sad,” she once wrote, “that some of your people do not seem to understand or realize the special and holy heritage given to them for eternity, not something they can disown…”
This article was sent out by Am Echad Resources. Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.
May Hashem guide, bless, and protect "Tehilla" and her family, and may they soon be able to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Have a Good and Sweet Shabbos, and a Chodesh Tov – Good Month!
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen