The Seven Noahite Laws

The fundamental principles, or laws, which represent the standard of a civilized society and are incumbent upon all people. Non-Jews are expected to follow the following seven laws which date back to the time of Noah. Judaism regards any non-Jew who keeps these laws as a righteous person who is guaranteed a place in the world to come.
These are the fundamental principles, or laws, which represent the standard of a civilized society and are incumbent upon all people. While Jews are commanded to observe hundreds of laws, non-Jews are expected to follow the following seven laws which date back to the time of Noah. Judaism regards any non-Jew who keeps these laws as a righteous person who is guaranteed a place in the world to come.

  1. You shall practice equity, establish and promote justice: We are to be fair, just, and equitable in our dealings with others. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. This law also commands us to translate the ideals of our personal life into the building blocks of society to uphold the other six laws. A robust and healthy legal system results in a society worthy of God's blessings.

  2. You shall not commit Idolatry: We are to believe in one God, the Supreme Being. To give life meaning, one has to recognize that there is one, and only one, Supreme Being who created the Universe. This Supreme Being grants us free choice and is aware of all our deeds. What's more, He desires good, despises evil, and rewards and punishes man according to his actions. In the first of the Ten Commandments we are commanded to establish our belief in God. In the second commandment we are prohibited from believing in any other god and prohibited from deification of anything earthly or heavenly that can take the form of a physical image.

  3. You shall not commit Blasphemy: We are to respect God and not blaspheme His Name. The most natural inclination is to take credit for our success and blame others for failure. Yet blaming people cannot undo what has been done. Rather, it is a selfish act that can only lead to anger, bitterness, and frustration. Blaming or blaspheming God or cursing in His name is a similarly selfish act; yet one with much greater consequences: it undermines the very foundation upon which society stands. 

  4. You shall not commit Sexual Immorality: We are to respect the family and not commit immoral sexual acts. This includes adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, and incest. Man has the choice of being selfish or selfless. The selfish person is never satisfied. Rather his preoccupation with his own desires leads him to self destruct. What is true of man is true of mankind. The story of the creation of woman and the institution of marriage, presented with such solemnity (Gen. 2:22-24), constitutes a quite solid foundation for the prohibition of forbidden relationships, adultery, and unnatural vices by this law. Those nations that have condoned selfish acts such as adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, and incest have never lasted.  True happiness comes when one desires to help another. The family unit is the ultimate expression of that desire. In a wholesome family, man's desires find fulfillment, as his selfish inclination gives way to selfless love. 

  5. You shall not commit Murder: We are to respect human life. Man was created in the image of God. Therefore human life possesses sanctity. Everything must be done to preserve life and prevent murder and manslaughter. One who attacks a fellow human being is, in essence, attacking the Image of God. The account of the punishment of Cain, Abel's murderer, is clear evidence near the beginning of Genesis that homicide is a punishable crime. The law which condemns him is later formulated most explicitly in the covenant established with Noah (Gen. 9:5). 

  6. You shall not commit Theft or Robbery: We are to respect others' rights and not take anything that is not ours. God not only rules the world, He runs it according to His Infinite Wisdom. An attack upon man is, in reality, an attack on the Creator. Man must realize that he cannot succeed by robbing or cheating others. Whatever gains have been made will ultimately be lost. The prohibition of theft exists in embryo in the distinction made by God as sovereign master of the earthly paradise between what Adam may take and what is forbidden to him (Gen. 2:16-17).  

  7. You shall not eat the limb torn from a live animal. Flesh with the life of it, the blood of it, you shall not eat:   We are to respect all creatures and not eat the flesh of a living animal. We are caretakers of God's creations. As a result, our responsibility extends beyond our family and beyond society, to the entire world. Removing flesh from a live animal shows that we are insensitive to God's creations. Instead, we must always remember who we are and what we must do to as Partners and caretakers of God's world. The commandment of not removing flesh from a live animal and eating it extends to not being cruel to animals. We find this law in full in the laws given to Noah after the flood. (Gen. 9:4)

The U.S. Congress officially recognized the Noahite Laws in legislation which was passed by both houses. Congress and the President of the United States, George Bush, indicated in Public Law 102-14, 102nd Congress, that the United States of America was founded upon the Seven Universal Laws of Noah, and that these Laws have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization. They also acknowledged that the Seven Laws of Noah are the foundation upon which civilization stands and that recent weakening of these principles threaten the fabric of civilized society, and that justified preoccupation in educating the Citizens of the United States of America and future generations is needed. For this purpose, this Public Law designated March 26, 1991 as Education Day, U.S.A.
105 STAT. 44 Public Law 102-14 -- March 20, 1991 Joint Resolution To designate March 26, 1991, as "Education Day, U.S.A."
Whereas Congress recognizes the historical tradition of ethical values and principles which are the basis of civilized society and upon which our great Nation was founded;
Whereas these ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahite Laws;
Whereas without these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning chaos;
Whereas society is profoundly concerned with the recent weakening of these principles that has resulted in crises that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society;
Whereas the justified preoccupation with these crises must not let the citizens of this Nation lose sight of their responsibility to transmit these historical ethical values from our distinguished past to the generations of the future;
Whereas Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, leader of the Lubavitch movement, is universally respected and revered and his eighty-ninth birthday falls on March 26, 1991;
Whereas in tribute to this great spiritual leader, "the rebbe," this, his ninetieth year will be seen as one of "education and giving," the year in which we turn to education charity to return the world to the moral and ethical values contained in the Seven Noahite Laws; and
Whereas this will be reflected in an international scroll of honor signed by the President of the United States and other heads of state: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that March 26, 1991, the start of the ninetieth year of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, leader of the world-wide Lubavitch Movement, is designated as "Education Day, U.S.A." The President is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. (Approved March 20, 1991)