The Seven Universal Mitzvot

The first 11 prakim (chapters) of the Torah are universal. In these eleven prakim, seven mitzvoth, shared standards for human conduct are alluded to. These mitzvoth are referred to as "Sheva Mitzvoth B'nai Noach", the seven Noachide laws.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 56a-b lists the seven mitzvoth that all of mankind is obligated to follow:

  1. Dinin- Establishing courts of justice
  2. Birkat HaShem- Do not commit blasphemy
  3. Avodah Zarah- Do not worship idols
  4. Gilui Arayot- Do not commit sexual immorality
  5. Shfichut Damim- Do not murder
  6. Gezel- Do not steal
  7. Ever min HaChai- Do not eat the flesh of a live animal

In Rambam's Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 14:7 the following question is asked: "What is meant by a Ger Toshav (residentalien)? A Ger Toshav is a gentile who makes a commitment not to worship false deities and to observe the other six universal laws commanded to Noach's descendants. He does not circumcise himself nor immerse. We accept this commitment and he is considered one of the pious gentiles. Why is he called a resident? Because he is permitted to dwell among us in the land of Israel."

In Rambam's Hilchot Melachim 8:11 we learn that "anyone who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these Seven Mitzvot and is precise in their observance is considered one of the Pious among the Gentiles (ChasideiUmot HaOlam). They will merit a share in the World to Come. This applies only when one accepts these mitzvot and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the Torah and informed us through Moshe, our teacher. Previously, Noach's descendants were commanded to fulfill these mitzvot. However, if a person fulfillsthese mitzvot out of intellectual conviction, they are not considered a Ger Toshav, resident alien, nor of thePious among the Gentiles. They are simply considered wise."

Let's hope that the entireworld will take on these basic moral standards which will help bring about the redemption, restoring peace and tranquility inthe land of Israel and throughout the world.