About this Essay
If anything, spending time in prison gives a person lots of time to think. Many people use the time to
consider where they’ve been and what brought them to their current situation. Others use their time to
find weak links in the system. Still others start to ask questions and explore spiritual options.
This essay was developed for people who are interested in knowing some of the fundamental aspects of
the Jewish tradition. Yet a basic knowledge of Judaism is not the same as becoming Jewish.
The reason is Judaism is a way of life, not a specific doctrine or set of believes. Judaism is all about
understanding and fulfilling the Will of G‑d as it has been transmitted to us through the 5 Books of
Moses, the Oral Law and the works of the Prophets and Sages. It is about trying to infuse every thought,
word, and every deed with holiness, e.g., awareness of G‑d. Judaism is also about connecting to G‑d and
maintaining that connection by performing the Torah’s 613 Biblical and 7 Rabbinic commandments.
Yet Judaism is not exclusive. It is inclusive. Non-Jews can live a kosher life by following the 7 Noahide
commandments. If they do, G‑d will recognize and reward their efforts. The first step, however, is to learn
what Judaism teaches about G‑d, man, and his role in creation. We hope you will find it interesting.

Introduction: What drives man’s behavior?
It’s a question that theologians, philosophers, scientists, and psychologists have been trying to answer for
centuries. About 70 years ago, an Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl came up with an explanation, and
perhaps, one answer. In Frankl’s view, man is driven by the search for meaning.
Frankl believed that, to previous generations, the responsibilities associated with family, community, etc.
provided that meaning. However technological change and social/political systems have addressed most
of the immediate needs facing family and community, leaving us to once again search for meaning in our
lives. Frankl theorized that the inability to find meaning leads to addiction, aggression or depression.
What can bring meaning to man? Wealth? Fame? Beauty? Success? Often, these are transitory, leaving
those who tie their self-worth to them living in the past. Yet there is something that can provide meaning
to man under all circumstances and all phases of one’s life. It is the Torah (also known as the Five Books
of Moses). The Torah represents Divine Wisdom. Eternal and endless, it is a wellspring of knowledge,
as relevant today as it was 3,000 years ago. Furthermore, the Torah is unique in that it helps us to live our
lives in the most fulfilling manner possible now, while preparing us for the journey that follows once our
life ends. On the following pages, we will present fundamental concepts found in the Torah that apply to
Jews and non-Jews alike.

1. G‑d in Jewish Thought and Tradition
The core of Judaism, and of all existence, is G‑d. Nothing exists outside of G‑d. Maimonides 1 , the great
Jewish philosopher, physician, and scholar, opens his Mishneh Torah by saying, “The foundation of
foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all
existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, and what is between them came into existence, only
from the truth of His being.” Maimonides’ statement dictates several things:
There is only one Prime Force in the universe.
G‑d existed before creation and will continue to exist forever. He is both eternal and unchanging.
Anything, and everything, whether it’s the stars, the forces of nature, good and evil, mankind, and all of
existence derive from, and are totally united with, G‑d. Nothing (no force, no state of being, no creature )
exists “outside of” G‑d.

Second, G‑d has no physical form, yet is perfect in every manner of being.
Maimonides states, “G‑d is one. He is not two or more than two, but one. The oneness of any of the
individual things that exist in the universe is unlike His unity. 2 ” In other words, G‑d’s unity is both
unique and indivisible. This also means that G‑d has no shape, form, or matter. G‑d is above and beyond
anything that we can conceive. Again, we return to Maimonides, “He is the Knower. He is the Subject of
Knowledge, and He is the Knowledge itself. All is one.” 3
Third, G‑d is the vitalizing Force of existence.
Some philosophies believe that G‑d created the world and monitors it from afar, allowing the cosmos to
run on its own. This is similar to a watchmaker who installs a battery and intercedes only when
necessary. Judaism rejects this concept. Although G‑d’s presence is hidden from our mortal eyes, G‑d
continually and “actively” sustains creation. If G‑d withdrew His sustaining force, even for the tiniest
fraction of second, the world would cease to exist; not only that, it would be as if the world never existed
at all.
1 Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon. (1135 CE – 1204 BCE) Also known as the Rambam. The Rambam authored The Book of
Commandments, Guide for the Perplexed, and his comprehensive codification of Jewish Law, the Mishneh Torah.
2 IBID: p. 144
3 IBID: P. 172

One could ask, why did G‑d create the universe in the first place? After all, if He made it, He must have
made it for a purpose.
1. By definition, G‑d is the essence of Good. And it is the nature of good to do good. In other words, G-
d’s “nature” is to share His goodness (and other qualities). So G‑d created the world so that we benefit.
2. From another perspective, G‑d is a complete unity. Certainly, we can conceive of G‑d as Infinite.
However, G‑d also possesses the quality of “finiteness.” By creating the universe and all it contains, G‑d
expresses his Unity within the finite realms.
3. From a slightly different angle, our sages say that there is no king without a people. A king surrounded
by his relatives cannot be called a king. When we recognize and express our desire for the king to rule,
this elicits a similar response from the monarch. So too creation was formed as a crown for the Creator.
4. Here is one more explanation. G‑d created Man to bring something novel into creation. Everything
behaves according to rules that (to some extent) regulate their behavior. We may not understand all rules;
nevertheless, the world is not chaos, therefore, the rules must exist. Man is the only creature that can
choose to do or not to do. This gives us a tremendous responsibility. Therefore, whenever we freely
choose to set aside our selfish desires for the sake of our Creator, this act causes gratification on high. At
the same time, G‑d allows our acts to help “perfect” the state that G‑d made.

2. What is the Role of Man?
At the end of describing the first six days of creation, the Bible states (chapter II. verse 3), “And G‑d
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because he rested from all His work that G‑d created to do.”
The last two words of the phrase do not add to the meaning. Rather, the words imply that something
remains “to do.” Our sages explain that every one of us on Earth has a specific mission to perform.
What’s more, G‑d gave each of us a unique set of talents and capabilities so that we can fulfill our
mission. No one else can fulfill my task or yours, no one who lived before and no one who will live after.
Not only that. Fulfilling our mission is necessary to complete the purpose of creation—that is, to create a
dwelling place for G‑d on Earth. In this way, we “partner” with G‑d in perfecting creation.
To summarize, G‑d created Man to manifest His Goodness. He furthermore granted man the ability to
make the finite world a fit place for the revelation of G‑d. Jews accomplish this by following the Torah
and performing mitzvot (commandments). A mitzvah/commandment connects the One who commands
(G‑d) with the one who obeys (man). A mitzvah primarily expresses the Will of G‑d. Like a garment that
clothes the body, the mitzvah “enclothes” the soul, allowing it to connect to G‑d’s will without going out
of existence.
The most famous commandments are known simply as “the 10 Commandments.” These were written on
tablets and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The 10 Commandments are found in Exodus, chapter 20,
verses 1-14:
1. I am the L-rd your G‑d Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage.
2. You shall have no other gods before Me.
3. You shall not take the Name of the L-rd your G‑d in vain.
4. Remember/Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal (humans, i.e., kidnapping to sell into slavery).
9. You shall not bear false witness.


10. You shall not covet.
The Jewish sages note that there are 613 commandments, many of them are related to the Holy Temple.
Today, only about 60-80 mitzvot apply. They include eating kosher, wearing tefillin, etc. They basically
affect every aspect of a Jew’s life. To become a Jew means adopting the lifestyle that these
commandments dictate.
What if one wants to become close to G‑d yet does not feel that they can perform all the duties incumbent
upon Jews? He or she can perform the seven mitzvot given to Noah and his descendants. They are also
called the Seven Universal Laws of Mankind.
1. Recognition of G‑d, Prohibition of Idolatry
2. Recognition of the sanctity of life, Prohibition of Murder
3. Recognition of the value of society, Prohibition against Theft
4. Recognition of Divine Providence, Prohibition against Blasphemy
5. Recognition of the family unit, Prohibition against Immorality
6. Recognition of creatures, Prohibition against Eating the Limb or Flesh of a Living Animal
7. Recognition of the role of law, the Commandment to Promote Justice
Here is an essay regarding the Seven Universal Laws of Mankind:
Contemplation in the Seven Noahide Commandments
by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, author of “The Divine Code, Translated by Rabbi Yosef Schulman,
Assistant Director, Edited by Dr. Michael Schulman, Executive Director
Every person is obligated to contemplate the commands given explicitly to him by G‑d and to
understand everything that he is obligated and forbidden to do, and how to better his character.
Therefore, a Gentile should contemplate the 7 Noahide Commandments, and what one can learn
from them to rectify his nature and correct his deeds. Of primary importance is contemplation on the
very fact that G‑d gave commands to mankind. This teaches that G‑d has purpose in the world – and
anticipates the world coming to its proper rectification – through the actions of mankind. G‑d’s
commands teach that a person is able to do meaningful good deeds and rectify himself and his
environment. Surely a person should not view himself as being naturally evil, nor imagine that it is
impossible to change one’s nature to goodness. Rather, a person should know and believe that since
G‑d commanded him and anticipates his doing specific good actions, G‑d surely has given him the
power and capability to accomplish this. To this end, the following lessons can be learned from each
of the Noahide Laws.

The Prohibition of Idol Worship:
 Just as this command is central to the other commands, one can also learn from it advice and correct
views for all areas of life. It embodies the truth in all of G‑d’s commands, that He wants the good of
the person. In any situation, a person is obligated to accept that there is only one G‑d Who rules over
all and is the Master of all, and only He has the power to do anything He wills. The all-powerful G‑d
gives commands to humans – giving them this gift of being duty-bound to His will – to believe in
Him, and to repudiate idol worship. This teaches that G‑d does not simply force His will upon
humans; rather, He is a loving Father Who wishes the best for a person – that a person should
actively achieve his rectification, for his own good.
This command teaches: “Be with G‑d constantly, in all your thoughts and actions; I, G‑d, will be
with you if you so desire and are fitting for this. You should cleanse your actions from submission to
any false deities, and unify yourself with the truth that I am always with you.” Together with
acceptance of G‑d’s authority as the Master of all, G‑d wants a person to be complete, rectified,
elevated, refined, and connected to Him for the person’s own good. Therefore, with every action a
person takes, he must think through and examine the deed to see how it is further connecting him to
G‑d. A person should not think that there is any action which is neutral and does not fall on one side
or the other. Rather, when a person is scrupulous and examines his actions, he will see that every
action he can take will either be for the good and has positive purpose, or, G‑d forbid, is bad and
destructive. From this a person should understand the importance of every action he takes, and
should not listen to his evil inclination which tries to persuade him that his actions are insignificant
and make no difference.
The Prohibition of Blasphemy:
There is no greater denial of G‑d’s sovereignty than the commission of blasphemy. This command is
logically a branch of the prohibition of idol worship, which precludes separation from G‑d and
obligates a person to accept His rulership. Why then was blasphemy assigned a separate command?
This teaches the extraordinary power of human speech. Mankind is distinguished from all other
creations by his power of intellect and choice, and in his power of speech. A person should not think,
“Are my words of any consequence?” For speech is a special gift that G‑d has given people, and one
should use it only for good, and not for evil.  Do not be an ingrate by using this power to curse the
One Who gave you this gift! And do not speak evil about others, for every person was created in the
image of G‑d, and one who curses another person is also cursing the image of G‑d within.
The Prohibition of Murder:

This command is not limited to murder; rather any harm caused to another person or to his honor is a
branch of this prohibition. From this we learn the value of a person’s life and his honor. A person
must endeavor to help and save every person to the best of his capability. From this follows the
obligation to give charity and help others. The   Mishna teaches that Adam the first man was created
alone for the purpose of peace, so that a person should not tell his friend, “My father is better than
your father,” and to show G‑d’s greatness: that He creates every person in the image of Adam, and
yet each one is distinct in his appearance and nature. This is unlike a person, who makes only
identical copies from a single mold. Therefore, each person is able to say, “The world was created
for my sake,” along with the recognition that “I was created to serve my Creator.”
The Prohibition of Forbidden Relations:
The power of procreation which G‑d gave to humans is wondrous. With it, a person becomes a
partner with the Creator Who forms the child together with the parents. Therefore, humans are
somewhat comparable to and partners with G‑d in this power. Every precious matter needs
protection and proper respect, and the more precious the matter, the more it needs to be protected.
Just as a respectable person would not disgrace himself to run in the streets naked and filthy, so too a
person must respect his abilities and use them in a fashion befitting their ordained purpose –
especially the abilities associated with the powers of consummation and fulfillment of marriage, and
procreation. If not, one degrades himself and degrades the Craftsman Who made him, and sullies the
physical vessel which G‑d created for the spiritual soul. Yet many people foolishly destroy their
honor and Divine image by not guarding and honoring these wondrous abilities.
Just as a person can become imprudent from abundance of wealth or fame if he does not know how
to handle it wisely, and therefore it makes him unbalanced, so it is with one who does not use his G-
d given sexual nature correctly, as G‑d commanded in Genesis 2:24.
The Prohibition of Theft:
One should contemplate that G‑d provides necessary sustenance for everyone, himself included.
That which a person needs and is fitting for him has been provided by G‑d, along with the lawful
means to obtain it. That which he cannot lawfully and honestly obtain, he has no need for. Though at
times it is hard for a person to agree with this, he should know that this is the truth. He should not
desire the possessions and successes of others, but should rather endeavor to reach his G‑dly
ordained potential and income on his own. From this contemplation, a person will come to recognize
even more so the individual Divine Providence which has exact design for each person’s needs. He
should constantly trust and pray that G‑d will provide for his essential needs, and also give charity to
others from what he has.
The Command to Establish Courts of Justice:
A person should contemplate that G‑d desires a just society, with justice based on standards that
upright people can agree on among themselves as to what is just or unjust. All people are partners in
the building of a just society with a foundation on good behavior. Therefore, this is an obligation for
every person who is capable of influencing others to do good – such as parents who must influence
their children, or any person who has influence upon others. Another lesson is that since G‑d guides
everything with His individual Divine Providence, it must be that the evil which appears in the world
occurs with G‑d’s knowledge.
A person could ask, why then should he get involved in G‑d’s plan for the world? This command
teaches that G‑d wants people to rectify themselves and the world, and therefore He put some evil
and deficiencies in the world, so that mankind could do His service by rectifying it. If one sees a
matter that needs to be fixed, he should not say, “Others will take care of it.” Rather, since G‑d
showed him this problem by Divine Providence, it is clear that this rectification is relevant to him,
and he is fitting to be involved. He shouldn’t say that G‑d will do the work, or that others will solve
it without him.
The Prohibition of Eating Meat Separated from a Live Animal:
This teaches us not to be cruel to any creatures. Even if one has dominion over other people or over
animals, he was given this power for a purpose, but not to cause them undue harm or pain, or to be
cruel toward them. It also teaches that G‑d desires the establishment of the world and the
rectification of nature, while also caring about the pain of animals. Even though they were made
available to people for food, they were not given over to be subjected to cruelty. Likewise, one
should not waste things needlessly, which denigrates G‑d’s blessings. All that G‑d gives to mankind
has a special purpose for which it is meant to be used, and not for it to be wastefully destroyed.
A person who follows the 7 Universal Commandments is called a Noahide. There are many
organizations that support Noahide followers. is one such organization.

3. What is the Bible?
When people speak of the “Bible,” they are not only referring to the entire body of Jewish sacred
literature. It covers the Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses, as well as Prophets and Writings.
In Hebrew, the Bible is known as the Tanach, an acronym for Torah, Neviim (Prophets), Kesuvim
(Writings). Prophets consists of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, as well as 12
Minor Prophets. Kesuvim includes Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations,
Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemia, and Chronicles.
Everything is based on the 5 Books of Moses, aka the “Torah.” The Torah is the guidepost for our life.
Every letter, word, and phrase contains Divine wisdom ready to be revealed. The Torah touches upon
history, cosmology, architecture, agronomy, civil legislation, divine service, human psychology, and
many other topics. No wonder our sages said in Pirke Avos (5:21), “Learn it and learn it, for everything is
in it; look deeply into it; grow old and gray over it, and do not stir from it, for there is nothing more
edifying for you than it.”
The Torah consists of five “books.” Beraishis “Genesis” begins with Creation and describes the lives of
the Patriarchs, Avrohom “Abraham,” Yitzchok “Isaac,” and Yaakov “Jacob.” The second book is called
Shmos, “Exodus.” It describes the “birth” of the Jewish people through their sojourn in, and liberation
from Egypt. Shmos also contains the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The third book, Vayikra
“Leviticus” describes the life of the Jewish people in the desert and the service of the tribe of Levi in the
Mishkan, “Tabernacle.” The fourth book, Bamidbar “Numbers” continues the journeys of the Jewish
people through the desert. The fifith book is called Devorim “Deuteronomy.” It restates many events and
laws, ands with the death of Moshe, “Moses.”
For example, Deuteronomy contains the commandment to wear “frontlets upon our eyes.” These are
commonly known as tefillin “phylacteries.” But the Torah does not tell us what they should look like,
how to make them, or how they should be worn. There are other instances where the Torah only hints to
certain commandments. To complement the written Torah, Moses received an entire body of knowledge,
the Oral Law, to fill in these “gaps.” The Oral Law is known as the Talmud. It is necessary to understand
everything you read in the Bible. Here is an example of how the Talmud explains what is written in the
An I for an I. Not an “Eye for an Eye”

Perhaps the most misquoted verse in scripture is, “But if there be a fatality, then you shall award a life for
life; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot; a burn for a burn, a wound
for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.” (Exodus 21:24) The secular world interprets the verse as implying
that one who injures another should be punished by receiving the same injury. The same injury will have
a different impact on different people. For example, most of us would agree that a ball player’s hand is
“more valuable” to the person than it is to a singer. In addition, the physical and emotional pain one
person feels will differ from the pain felt by another. Therefore, it’s impossible to fulfill the literal
statement of “an eye for an eye!”
Obviously, the Torah must be referring to something else. How do we know? The Hebrew term is eyian
tachas eyian. Tachas means “in place of.” Elsewhere in the Torah, the tachas refers to monetary
compensation. So the Rabbis knew that it must mean monetary compensation here, as well. Therefore,
when a case comes before them, the Rabbis calculate an amount based on the nature of the injury. They
also figure in doctor’s bills, the loss of work, pain, and humiliation. The person causing the injury must
pay that price to the person he injured.
If the Torah wanted us to compensate someone with money, why didn’t it say so? The answer: we
could easily miss the point! The act of compensating someone for the damage we caused could become
as ordinary as buying milk. Therefore, the Torah stresses that we should feel another person’s pain as if it
were our own!



4. What is the role of Moses?
Among Maimonides’ Principals of the Jewish faith are the following:

  •  “I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, may peace be upon him, was true; and that he was the father of all the prophets, those who came before him, and those who came after.
  •  I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our hands is the same Torah that was given to Moses our Teacher, may peace be upon him.”

Some western religions try to mimic the role of Moses but fail because they don’t understand it. These
religions believe that the prophet serves as a “gatekeeper.” In other words, G‑d is too far above mortal
man to be involved with his needs. Therefore, He chose someone to represent Him. As G‑d’s personal
representative, he has the power to grant or deny personal requests. So to reach G‑d, first you have to go
through him (or her.)
Judaism rejects this. Judaism teaches that every person is unique and has a special, personal relationship
to G‑d. When we pray, we pray directly to G‑d, not to anyone or anything else. We are permitted to ask
Moses or any tzadik “righteous individual” or departed loved one to intercede on our behalf. However, we
don’t have to go to, or through, anyone.
So what was Moses’ role? Moses served as a “facilitator.” His goal was to help people establish and
strengthen their relationship with G‑d. His single-minded dedication is one reason why the Torah is
called Torat Moshe. It is also why G‑d gave the Torah to the Jews, through Moses, on Mount Sinai. This
Sinitic revelation took place on the 6 th of Sivan in the year 2448. More than 600,000 men between the
ages of 20 and 60 experienced this revelation. So did their wives and children. In addition, many non-
Jews who had left Egypt with the Jewish people also experienced it. In fact, according to our sages, over
three million people witnessed the giving of the Torah. They transmitted what they saw to their children
and their children’s children, down through the generations, without exception down until today. None of
the nations of the world dispute this fact. They don’t dispute the fact that the Jews were slaves to Egypt,
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the truth of Torah and to the truth exemplified by Moses is the existence
of the Jewish people! As a nation, the Jewish people are over 3,300 years old. What’s more amazing is
that we have remained a distinct people without the benefit of living in our own land. Even on foreign
soil, even under political and economic pressure, Jews have remained true to the Torah. If man made the
Torah, both it and Judaism as a way of life, would have faded away long ago. Only something above and
beyond the social and political forces of the world could enable this people to thrive as a lamb among 70
If there are objections to the historical truth of Torah, they typically concern the miracles that took place
either in Egypt or at the Sea of Reeds. For example, many people debate the fact that the sea split and
drowned the Egyptians. But the fact is, if G‑d created nature, then He certainly could change or modify it
according to His will. For example, the Midrash states that the sea split into 12 paths, one for each tribe.4
It also describes many other miracles that occurred at that time.
4 Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 42,

5. What is Prayer?
Prayer is the soul of man connected to his Source in G‑d. In general, our prayers fall into four groups.
We praise G‑d, thank G‑d, confess our transgressions to G‑d, and ask G‑d to fulfill our requests.
The Hebrew word for prayer, tefila, is related to the word, p’lillim, means to “judge oneself.” Prayer
helps us work on ourselves so that we can become better people. At the same time, our sages compare
prayer to Jacob’s ladder. It began on earth yet reached to the Heavens. In other words, prayer enables us
to attach ourselves directly to the Creator!
In addition to formal prayers, Judaism also encourages us to “talk to G‑d” in our own way. This
“conversation” can take place anywhere and about anything. Everything can be revealed, our hopes,
fears, requests, and complaints. According to our sages, G‑d desires our complete reliance on Him for all
our needs, no matter how small, and so we should express ourselves often.
Perhaps the greatest example of that self-expression is Tehillim, which literally means “praises” but more
commonly is referred to as psalms. King David composed most of them. Moses, and even Adam, also
composed psalms. The 150 chapters of psalms reflect virtually every emotion available to man. No other
literature has ever come close to the beauty, power, and simplicity of psalms. It is unique, not only in its
ability to express the days of our lives, but in the way Jews (and non-Jews) have adopted psalms to
express their own heart-felt needs. Perhaps the most well-known psalm is number 23:
A Psalm by David. 
The L-rd is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul;
He directs me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name.
Even if I will walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff – they will comfort me.
You will prepare a table for me before my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup is full.
Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and
I will dwell in the House of the L-rd for many long years.

The 150 chapters of Psalms are divided into five books that correspond to the five books of Moses
(Torah). They can also be divided into the days of the week and month. It is customary to say the psalm
that corresponds to your age. If you are 30, you would say the 31 st psalm because it is actually your 31 st
5 Mangel, Siddur Tehillat Hashem, Merkos L’Inyonie Chinuch, Brooklyn, NY, p. 146

6. Is Judaism For Everybody?
By Tzvi Freeman (
I really want to become Jewish. What's my next step?
Your next step is to become a better person. Develop greater faith in your soul, in your destiny, and in
your Maker. Do more good, reach out to more people. Learn more wisdom, apply whatever you learn, and
make life worth living.
But you don't need to become Jewish to do any of that. Plenty of wonderful people doing beautiful things
in the world are not Jewish, and Gd is nonetheless pleased with them. And if you're worried about going
to heaven, Jewish belief is that all good people have a share in the World to Come, as long as they
connect their lives to the oneness of G‑d and keep the Seven Laws of Noah.
You see, there's Judaism and there's Jewishness, and the two are not one and the same. Judaism is wisdom for every person on the planet and beyond. We call it the Torah, meaning "the teaching," and it's a divine message to all human beings containing the principles that much of humanity has already accepted as absolute truths. The idea that human life is beyond value is a teaching originating from Torah, as is the related concept that all human beings are created equal. So too, the right of every individual to literacy and education was brought to the world through Torah. And world peace as a value and goal was preached exclusively by the Torah and its prophets thousands of years before it became popular in the rest of the world. And of course, the idea that there is a single, incorporeal Being who creates and sustains all of reality, and is concerned over all that occurs with each individual, thereby giving each person, creature, event and object meaning, purpose and destiny—this is a core teaching upon which everything else rests, and the central teaching of the Torah.
This teaching was not only preserved, but unfolded, explained, illuminated and applied in so many
different ways by Jewish sages since it was given, over 3300 years ago. They've applied it to serious
matters of medical ethics, business ethics, politics, personal enlightenment—every facet of human life.
Today it is all readily available for all humanity to partake of and learn from, as a beacon of light and an
inspiration to all.

That's Judaism. Then there is Jewishness. To be Jewish means to belong to an ancient tribe, either by birth
or by adoption (a.k.a. conversion). It's a strange and unique tribe, because it is the only one to have
survived into modernity while retaining most of the characteristics of a Bronze Age tribe. Anthropologist
Jared Diamond describes in his book, "Guns, Germs and Steel," how a New Guinea tribesman, when
visiting a nearby village of the same tribe, will immediately start the conversation with an investigation
of, "So, who are you related to? Do you know so-and-so?" to establish tribal relations. Well, that's exactly
what Jewish people do today when they meet one another all over the world. Because, whether living in
Manhattan or Joburg, Tel Aviv or Vladivostok, we are still all one tribe.
And for good reason: To preserve the teachings of an ageless Torah for the world, the Jewish People
themselves need to be ageless, remaining outside of time, as it were, even while traveling within it.
Tribes have rituals. So do Jews. Males of the tribe wear particular items of clothing, such as tzitzit and
kippot. Women keep a certain mode of modest dress and married women cover their hair. Men also wrap
leather boxes containing parchment scrolls on the heads and arms every morning, while robed in woolen
sheets with more of those tzitzit tassels. In our services, we chant ancient Hebrew and read from an
ancient scroll. We have holidays that commemorate our tribal memories and establish our identity as a
whole. Certain foods are taboo and other food is supervised and declared fit-for-the-tribe. Nope, you can't
get much more ancient-tribal than any of that.
The point is, none of that ritual stuff was ever meant as a universal teaching, except perhaps in a more
generalized way. Modest dress—yes, a good idea for all. Why should the human being be reduced to a
body icon? A chat with your Maker every morning? How can a human being do without it? And injecting
some spirituality into your food consumption—what a great way to transcend the mundane. But as to the
particular rituals in their Jewish form, as meaningful as they are to us, there's simply no meaning in
someone outside the tribe taking them on. (If you don't believe me, take a look in the source-text, where
Gd tells Moses, "Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them to...")
G‑d decides who you are, and the best you can do is discover it. Let me illustrate with a story.
Two friends of mine joined the Peace Corps back in the sixties and were posted in Southeast Asia.
Together, they visited a little-known guru in the jungle to whom they announced, "We want to become Buddhists."
"Well, what are you now?"; he asked them.

"Nothing," they replied.
"Where did you come from? What were your parents?"
"They were Jews."
"So why are you coming to me?" he asked. "Go and be Jews."
Now it"s my turn to return the favor and tell the Southeast Asians, the Italians, the Nigerians, the Inuits
and all the rest of humanity this little piece:
I believe that what G‑d wants from each person is that S/he examine the heritage of his ancestors, discover
the truths hidden there and live in accordance with them, knowing that this is what his Creator wants from
her/him. The truths are there because all of human society was originally founded upon the laws given to
Adam and to Noah, along with those laws that all the children of Noah accepted upon themselves. These
truths are found by examining one's heritage through the light of Torah. The Jewish Tribe are the bearers
of that light. But you don't need to become Jewish to partake of it. Light shines for all who have eyes.
How to Live like a Jew without being Jewish:
According to the sages of the Talmud, there are 70 families with 70 paths within the great Family of Man.
And each individual has his or her path within a path. Yet, there is one universal basis for us all.
What is this universal basis? At the dawn of creation, G‑d gave Adam, the first human being, six rules to
follow in order that His world be sustained. Later, after the Great Flood, he charged Noah with one more.
So it is recounted in the Book of Genesis as interpreted by our tradition in the Talmud.
Anyone who lives by these rules, acknowledging that they are what G‑d wants of us, is considered by our
tradition to be righteous. That person is a builder with a share in the world as it is meant to be.
The creed of Noah is a sacred inheritance of all the children of Noah, one that every person on the face of
the earth can recite every day. And if enough of us will begin to say these same words every day, we will
see a different world very soon. Sooner than we can imagine.
Here is a phrasing of the Creed of Noah, according to ancient tradition, with a touch of elaboration:
I, child of Noah,
caretaker of our precious Planet Earth,
accept upon myself the responsibility for peace and oneness in our world,
as accepted by Adam and by Noah,
transmitted by Moses and his people over the ages:
1. I will not worship anyone or anything other than the One Creator, who cares for the creatures of
our world, renewing the Act of Creation at every moment in infinite wisdom, being life for each
In this is included prayer, study and meditation.
2. I will not show disrespect for the Creator in any way.
This may be seen to include respect for the beauty and life of the Creation.
3. I will not murder.
Each human being, just as Adam and Eve, comprises an entire world. To save a life is to save
that entire world. To destroy a life is to destroy an entire world. To help others live is a corollary
of this principle. Every human being that G‑d has created is obliged to provide for others in need.
4. I will respect the institution of marriage.
Marriage is a most divine act. The marriage of a man and a woman is a reflection of the Oneness
of G‑d and His creation. Dishonesty in marriage is an assault on that Oneness.
5. I will not take that which does not rightfully belong to me.
Deal honestly in all your business. By relying on G‑d, rather than on our own conniving, we
express our trust in Him as the Provider of Life.
6. I will not cause needless harm to any living thing.
At the outset of his creation, Man was the gardener in the Garden of Eden to "take care of it and
protect it."At first, Man was forbidden to take the life of any animal. After the Great Flood, he
was permitted to consume meat—but with a warning: Do not cause unnecessary suffering to any
7. I will uphold courts of truth and justice in my land.
Justice is G‑d's business, but we are given the charge to lay down necessary laws and enforce
them whenever we can. When we right the wrongs of society, we are acting as partners in the act
of sustaining the creation.
May the nations beat their swords into plowshares. May the wolf lie down with the lamb. May the earth
fill with wisdom as waters cover the ocean floor. And may it be very soon in all of our lifetimes, sooner
than we imagine.



7. Who is the Rebbe?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Schneerson, (1902-1994), the seventh leader in theCapture-5.JPG
Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, is considered to have been
the most phenomenal Jewish personality of modern
times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and
millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world,
he was — and still is, despite his passing — 'the Rebbe,'
undoubtedly, the one individual responsible for stirring
the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.
In fact, the Rebbe’s world view encompassed everyone
regardless of background or affiliation. In the Rebbe’s
eyes, each human being has a unique role to play in the
greater scheme of things and is an integral part of the
tapestry of G‑d's creation.
For nearly five of the most critical decades in recent
history, the Rebbe's goal to reach out to every corner
of the world with love and concern has
unfolded dramatically. No sector of the community
has been excluded — young and old; men and women;
leader and layman; scholar and laborer; student and
teacher; children, and even infants. He had an
uncanny ability to meet everyone at their own
level- he advised heads of state on matters of 
 National importance, explored with
professionals the complexities in their own fields
of expertise, and spoke to small children with warm
words and a fatherly smile.
The Rebbe’s Message: "Actualize Your Potential!"

With extraordinary insight, he perceived the wealth of potential in each person. His inspiration, now
accessible through his, boosts the individual's self-perception, ignites his awareness of that hidden wealth
and motivates him to fulfill his potential by emphasizing: "You are Divinely gifted with enormous
strength and energy — actualize it!" How? As a gentile, by performing acts of goodness and kindness and by fulfilling the 7 Universal Commandments given to Mankind by Noah. As a Jew, by increasing in one’s level of Torah and mitzvah observance.
Many people, both Jews and Gentiles, continue to write the Rebbe, pouring out their hearts and
revealing the secrets of their souls, reporting their efforts at personal improvement, and
requesting that he intercede in Heaven on their behalf. One's letter can be written in any
language. When referring to one's own self or mentioning someone else, one should include the
name and mother' name (e.g. Isaac the son of Sarah). It is preferable to use one's Hebrew name.
It is customary that Gentiles use their father's name.
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