1. Introduction to the Noahide Laws

1.2. What is Halachah? (Law)

Unlike the term Torah, halachah is meant only one way. We mean the law or quite literally “the way to go.” Halachah is the law that tells us how we ought to behave under certain circumstances. It tells us what we must and must not do.

Although the Seven Noachide laws are prohibitions,1 i.e. negative commandments, there is an aspect although not required but recommended that if observed will perfect the individual. People abstain from many of the prohibitions of the Seven Noachide laws for reasons other than they are an obligation. Some of those reasons might be, fear of social reaction, custom, government policies or because it makes sense philosophically. This abstention is good because it keeps society in order. But mere abstention does not perfect the individual nor make one a better servant of God.

That is why for someone to perfect themselves the other side of each of the laws must be considered. Someone that does not worship other gods has fully kept the prohibition against idolatry. However, they have not drawn any closer to God. Only if both abstention from idolatry and active worship of God is performed by the Noachide is he able to reap the perfecting benefits of Torah and draw closer to God.

1. The Law to establish courts of justice is actually both positive and negative. “Establish courts of justice” is the positive aspect and “do not pervert justice” is the negative aspect.