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Background: the First Covenant  

That Your Way may be known upon earth, Your Salvation among all nations. — Psalm 67:3

From mankind's very beginning, going back to our legendary common ancestors, every person of every nation lives connected to God. We all have a direct covenantal relationship with our Creator, the Compassionate One. This is the First_Covenant, also known as the Universal Covenant. Long associated with the Bible's Noah, it's also called the Noahide (or No'achide) Covenant - the covenant between God and man and all the earth. Finally, people also refer to it as the Rainbow_Covenant, because, as the Bible itself declares, God specifically designated the rainbow as its sign.

This covenant is unconditional and eternal. (HaShem, our Divine Father, the Master of the Universe, neverviolates His covenants.) The Book of Genesis, the first of the Five Books of Israel's Torah, speaks of it:

And God spoke unto Noah, and to Noah's children with him, saying:
'And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you.'
— Genesis 9:8-9 

Israel's ancient Oral_Torah, the Written Torah's "other half," reveals its contents and its meaning. Through this great covenant with all mankind, HaShem, the God of Abraham, Israel, Moses and all the prophets, binds each of us to Him as responsible moral beings.

Through the First Covenant, He points each of us to an overflowing treasure of spiritual wisdom, granting each of us the revolutionary, world-transforming gift of guiding, eternal, universal moral laws. These Laws, the Seven_Laws_of_Noah (in Hebrew, the sheva mitzvot b'nai No'ach, the Seven Commandments of the Descendants of Noah), which are also known as the Noachide or Noahide_Law, make up mankind's universal Torah.

The main body of the Torah is contained in the Seven Commandments with their details. - Me'iri (c. 1260)

"Torah" doesn't actually mean "law" but "guidance," "way" or "teaching." Here is the foundation of all true morality, mankind's holy path, God's Way. He didn't just create us and leave us in ignorance, to figure out what is good and bad based on our own extremely fallible instincts and feelings. Rather, He gave us Instruction. The Way of the First Covenant is God's Guidance to us for living a holy, dynamic, fully human life. He calls all of us to holiness.

Through this Covenant, HaShem, our Divine Father, grants mankind dominion over the Earth. Through this covenant, God puts us at the top of the food chain. Our only obligation is to act like men, to live up to certain moral standards - God's Universal Law.

And I will say to them that were not My people, 'You are My people,' and they shall say, 'You are my God.' — Hosea 2:25

The Universal Law forms the backbone of the Bible. Even though most lay people today have barely even heard of it, it's the core of the whole biblical system. This is where one goes to acquire the real wealth of Israel. The Seven Commandments are designed to inform, command, enlighten and enrich not just Israel but the whole human race, for our own good, forever.

We are all bound by the First Covenant, and blessed by the incredible gift of these sublime Divine laws. They are engineered — brilliantly, by the Chief Engineer and Lawgiver — to bring all humanity, each of us, to His Way for us, to Torah; and, through God's Torah, to God. They are meant to bring all of us infinite blessing, and the truest, most profound knowledge of God. They are meant to be kept fully, in all their details, now — immediately.

Keep My commandments, and live; and My Law as the apple of your eye. — Proverbs 7:2

Tragically, some students once believed that the Noahide Law verged upon the primitive. Based on certain half-developed ideas, they conceived of it as consisting solely of seven simple, almost banal precepts. But we now know, based on compelling new research, overpowering logic, and growing scholarly consensus, that it is actually astoundingly rich and deep. God inscribed it in the Torah, which is uniquely connected to the people of Israel, but the Torah teaches further that both Jew_and_non-Jew live under the same moral_Law. In fact, this same body of wisdom - God's Universal Law or Way - is the key to the whole Torah.

O, how I love Your Torah! It is my meditation all the day. — Psalm 2:4

Clearly, the covenant between God and man at Sinai, which gave the people of Israel the Torah, came after the First Covenant. But, as history has unfolded, the Torah of the Hebrew prophets serves as our true guide to it today. The Universal Law is meant to free us — all humanity — from our fetters. It's the welcoming "outpatient department" of the Torah. And the people of Israel are obligated, the Torah teaches, to help people everywhere establish this path or way or Law in the world.

When the Law of Sinai came into the world, freedom came into the world. - Mishnah Torah, Pirke Avot 6:2

This Universal Torah is not the Hebrew Way or Law. However, it is connected to it. All Divine legislation is related to all other Divine legislation. It's part — the larger part — of the same great revolutionary movement that gave humanity the religion of Israel at Sinai. It's designed to reform the human race, to help the people of Earth make the Earth what it should be, and (this is a biblical guarantee) what it shall be.

God gave the Torah to the Jewish people so that all nations might benefit from it. - Midrash Tanchuma, Devarim 3

Here is the secret that lies behind the Jews. Here, indeed, is mankind's universal religion. It is ageless and powerful. It opens otherwise inaccessible paths into the infinite world of the spirit, the invisible and mystical. It doesn't, unlike man-made religions, require its followers to accept anything nonsensical. A religion hated by evil people and misunderstood by billions of others, it demands to be studied, interpreted, and questioned. It's deep, it's challenging, and it's compelling. It's a revolutionary, history-making religion that explains history, that dynamically complements science (biblical religion sparked the scientific revolution) and human nature.

Call to Me [God], and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know. — Jeremiah 33:3

The time has come for all of us to claim this great inheritance. God doesn't just grant human beings free will, He also offers us these precious Divine instructions on how to make the most of it - how to live up to our real potential! (We have enormous potential - we are, according to Torah, "little lower than the angels," and in some ways even higher than the angels!) The Rainbow Covenant Law also teaches us what He hates, what we should avoid, and how we can please Him by coming closer to Him.

My ordinances you shall do, and My statutes you shall keep, to walk in them: I am the Lord [HaShem] your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes, and My ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord. - Leviticus 18:4-5

How do we know that even a non-Jew, if he obeys the Law of God, will thereby attain the same spiritual communion with God as Israel's very High Priest? Scripture says, "which if a man do, he shall live in them" - nor priest, Levite, or Israelite, but man. - Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a

This is the Universal Torah. This is the Way of the righteous, of revolutionary wisdom, truth, and - incidentally - everlasting_life. It is our common inheritance, as it was given to our common ancestors, for our own good, forever. God designed it to uplift all mankind; He designed it to save the world. It's meant to bring us, mere mortals, into active partnership with Him, HaShem. It's meant to liberate us. It's designed to make us wiser, kinder, more tolerant, richer, healthier, happier and richer. It's designed to enlighten us, spiritually, morally and ethically - to make us think, and question. It's designed to teach us truly about every moral issue from (for example) abortion and adultery to war and worship. It's meant to help us conquer evil, which is everything that makes us less than we can be. Finally, it's meant to qualify us all for advanced Torah_study, for the coming of the Messianic Age, for peace on earth and the world to come (that is, not just for the good life in this life, the Torah promises, but for all the blessings of eternal life).

Great is the Torah, for it gives life to those who practice it, both in this world and in the world to come. - Mishnah Torah, Pirke Avot 6:6


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