The South African Jewish community is nothing if not homogeneous. This anomaly lends itself to great power and potential. The unity in the South African Jewish community is arguably unrivalled by any other Jewish community of similar size. There however obviously is a negative side to this as well, most South Africans seem to believe that the SA flavour of Judasim is more than likely THE definition of authentic Judaism and if Moses himself suddenly returned, he would fit very comfortably into our community because he was ‘just like us.’
There are very few voices in the South African Jewish community that trek on the road less travelled.
So when the first Bnei Noach( BN) community in South Africa was launched and introductions began into the Jewish community — there was and still is quite a bit of discomfort with the concept, the responses ranged from curiosity to contempt (A little gem from my Facebook page when I wrote about the BN community — Get a life get a job and practice authentic Judaism! This is Hocus Pocus! Seriously what happened to you? Let’s just cut the nonsense!)
A very basic intro into the concept begins with the question concerning what the spiritual system in the world, before the Torah, was. According to the Talmud it was unequivocally, the concept of BN. The spiritual wisdom at the time was distilled into seven major concepts that became the spiritual foundation of the world for over two millennia. Adam wasn’t Jewish, neither was Noach, nor anybody at their time. Avraham himself who re-introduces Ethical Monotheism into the narrative of mankind certainly was not a Jew according to traditional definitions; he was not obligated in the 613 mitzvot, as Jews post the revelation at Sinai are. He in fact is never called a Jew- he is called a Hebrew which in Hebrew is pronounced Ivri, from the word Eiver, the great grandson of Noach who according to Torah tradition had a great sensitivity and insight into the spiritual underpinning of the world and was part of the chain of tradition from Adam to Avraham. In fact he is Avraham’s teacher, and Avraham his most prominent, influential and important student. Avraham was therefore really called The Ivri’ite- the one following the teaching of Eiver
The entire system only really changes at the foot of Mount Sinai when Bnei Yisrael are tied into a covenant as a nation. A corridor between this and the next world opened through which G-d manifests in a much more tangible way, to an entire world.
What of the Non-Jews though, what space would they now fill in the word?
I would like to suggest a fascinating interplay between two seemingly disparate sources. The first one is from Deuteronomy 7:7, Hashem tells the nation that He did not choose them because they are the largest, because in fact they are the smallest. Whether this is description or prescription, might be an interesting discussion, nevertheless this is a reality. Very broadly we are around 14 000 000 in a world of 7 billion. What was the purpose of G-d ‘choosing’ a nation that He chose of the smallest?
The second source is Pesachim 87b, the Talmud tells us that the reason the Chosen People were scattered to the four corners of the world was in order to make converts. My question is, what converts are being spoken about here- we know that the Talmud frowns upon evangelising. It is speaking about non- Jews being brought into a relationship with G-d as BN. Non-Jews being detached from idolatry, being brought to nestle under the wings of the Divine Presence as Bnei Noach. Being ‘converted’ to monotheism. (1)
Looking at these two sources in conjunction with each other one realizes that the math doesn’t work! How does under one percent of a cohort influence the entire cohort? The Sages are revealing here an incredible synergy that exists in the world. For sure the Jewish People can’t influence the entire world, but they can influence some of it, and those (Bnei Noach) can influence additional people and those yet more and so on. Bnei Yisrael and Bnei Noach are in a perfect yin yang relationship to bring the world to fulfil its ultimate potential- a Oneness with G-d. Without Bnei Yisrael the Torah could not have been gifted to the world and without Bnei Noach the Teachings could not be spread across the planet.
With thanks to Hashem the BN movement in South Africa has begun! The Bnei Noach Cape Town community has been running for a couple of years already. I was privileged to join just over a year ago and have been on a fascinating journey since then.
Our community comprises of passionate and committed families and individuals who are striving to follow the path of spirituality, set out by G-d. Our vision is to assist every member of the community find their place in a nurturing and warm environment to both learn Torah and actively participate in the various activities that are offered by our community. We welcome both the curious and those on their own journey, to join us and learn the path that the Sages, Tradition and the Torah sets out for the Bnei Noach. We run a shiur on Thursday night and a Shabbat together with a study group on Shabbos
Our website is, http://www.bneinoachct.co.za/ and we have now also been included on the website http://noahideworldcenter.org/wp_en/cape-town-bnei-noach-community/.
Bnei Noach Cape Town recently held a ceremony celebrating the birth of a baby boy. The ceremony included the blessing thanking Hashem for letting us live, keeping us and allowing us to reach this point of welcoming this Holy Soul into the world. Pam and Craig the joyous parents had baby Daniel circumcised at the ceremony.
Our community’s first Bnei Noach wedding (possibly the first on the African continent) was held in December 2015. Under rabbinic guidance the ceremony which included a unique Bnei Noach Kesuba and where a specific selection of the traditional Shiva Brochas were recited, was held at a Cape Wine Farm in an intimate setting. The wedding was celebrated with a unique sense of awe and joy as the Bride and Groom had travelled all the way from Gauteng to celebrate with us.
Please G-d, Bnei Noach Cape Town will grow from strength to strength. As it finds itself in the homogeneity of the South African Jewish community it will bring with it the beauty and multiversity of the South African Rainbow Nation in which we live.
- Orchos Tzaddikim, Sha’ar HaEmes