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'A descendant of Noah (Noahide) has no right to create a new religion': Maimonides

By Rav Yoram Ulman
Sept. 12, 2023
Rosh Hashanah for the peoples of the world
On the one hand, there is no doubt that the meaning of the day of Rosh Hashanah, the day of the Great Judgment, when each person passes before the Creator, and his fate is decided for the entire next year, covers all of humanity. However, it is important to remember that all the laws that are mandatory for this day, and the very need to celebrate this day, were given to the Jews at the time of the giving of the Torah. In the commandments received by the Gentiles, all the descendants of Noach (Noah), nothing is said about this.Sometimes we come across a situation where a non-Jew knows the great significance of this day and asks how he can use its great potential for himself. I would advise such a person to use this day to make good decisions to improve his behavior, his actions, to do more good deeds for G-d and for children, etc.

All the time, when a person thinks that with the help of Rosh Hashanah he can further improve himself for the service of the Most High and for the benefit of other people, observing the precepts of the Torah, as a descendant of Noah, this is completely reasonable and appropriate.

The main thing is that it does not happen that this person and others will begin to see this as a new commandment of the Most High. This is related to the prohibition that Rambam writes about in his codex "Mishne Torah" (chapter "Laws about Kings") - a descendant of Noah has no right to create a new religion. After all, if they think that non-Jews should celebrate Rosh Hashanah, this is just a new religion, because the Torah does not say anything about it.

On the other hand, Rambam writes (10:13) about non-Jews that they should not be prevented from fulfilling the Jewish commandments, except for observing the Sabbath, and if a non-Jew brings a sacrifice to the Temple, it is accepted from him, and monetary donations can also be accepted from him:

If the son of Noah wants to fulfill some commandment from the Torah, in addition to those listed above, in order to receive a reward for it from above, he is not prevented from fulfilling it according to all the rules.

In other words, a non-Jew can fulfill the laws either in order to elevate himself with their help and feel closer to the Most High (for example, listening to the sounds of the shofar), or for the reward that the Creator promises for it. The main thing is that he should not pass it off as a new religion, but remember that these commandments and holidays are Jewish, and not given to him from above.