Question:

I live in the Russian Far East. On the plot of land that I have for building a private house, there are the remains of a Japanese Shinto sanctuary. These remains are part of a reinforced concrete foundation, hewn blocks made of granite and four Far Eastern yews. These trees are listed in the Red Book, so I can’t cut them, since this is a criminal offense, even if they dry, I can’t cut them. I will use parts of reinforced concrete foundations framed for a pedestrian platform in front of the porch. I plan to use the blocks for paving the car site. Now I’m building my house three meters away from this sanctuary. As it turned out recently, the workers who were planning the territory says that at the site of the house when moving the soil they discovered localized masses of dark soil the size of three-liter jars, presumably ashes from cremation, located in the correct geometric order on the ground. The plot is small, I can’t change the location of the house, I can’t sell it either, since the house is urgently needed for family needs. The region was conquered from Russia by the Japanese during the First World War and recaptured at the end of the Second World War, that is, the minimum burial period (if any) was 70 years.

Question: we need advice from a rabbi regarding trees, foundations, hewn blocks, and the alleged burial of cremation remains.

Answer of Rav Cherki:

Your wish not to get anything benefit from idolatry cults is quite right. In order to these remains lose all connection with idolatry it is need to do with them some humiliating action. For example, relieve on that place. After it you can use them for any goal.

What should we do with fotos of worshiping places?

Question:

If a person made photos of the places of worship or idols, or photographed himself against their background, what should be done with such a photos? Should we check our old albums and destroy photos that have idols or places of worship?

The answer of Rav Hollander:

It is not easy to deside in what case such a foto will be prohibited. If a Jew or a Ben Noah visited Vatican and made a foto of himself against it, hardly he did it to photograph Vatican specifically as a place of worship. That’s why we cannot considered such a foto as prohibited.

Likewise there is no prohibition to photograph ancient Greek gods because such cult was disappeared a long time ago and there are no people which worshiped such religion.

In such a case when foto was made specifically for worshiping places, then will be preferably to destroy such a foto. Though there is no need to find (such a fotos) in old albums.

The answer of Rav Cherki:

Will be preferable for Bnei Noah not to increase a number of forbiddances. And if a foto was made not for worshiping, then perhaps there is no obligatory to destroy it.

The card reading

Question:

In difficult life cases, when we don’t know what to do, and we lose hope, can we ask people who read fortune (read cards) to clarify the situation?

Answer of Rav Hollander:

If a person turn to fortuneteller, because he believe that she \ he has the supernatural powers, it’s close to idolatry. But I am not assured that such type of idolatry is prohibited for Bnei Noah. If a person considers it as an opportunity to make a decision like a tossing coins, it’s not idolatry.

Nevertheless will be preferable to ask God to send you a good advise, or you should advise with close person, who is kind and piety, or with Rabbi. Though even the piety man answer may be unsuccessful.

Prohibition of blasphemy

Question:

The prohibition to curse the Name of Most High – this is what was mentioned in Exodus 20,7: «  «Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain»? Or is it another commandment?

Answer:

These two commandments are not the same thing. According the simple meaning of the Scripture, the commandment in the Exodus 20,7 prohibits the perjury using the Name of God. Our Wisemen strengthened the prohibition, to distance a person from dangerous of cursing and swearing using the Name, and they decided to replace the Name of God in usual speech with the Jewish word ha-Shem (His Name).

The prohibition of blasphemy is the prohibition to curse the Name of God.

The punishment for breaking the Seven Commandments of Bhei Noahs

Question:

What punishment is for those who breaks the Seven Commandments? (Vladimir Peretc, Irshava).

Answer:

This is a very difficult question. It is often to hear that ‘for transgression any of the Seven Commandments there can be the death penalty’, but it is not an adequate answer. It is an answer in the such a sense that, for example, according the Torah, for the breaking Shabbat there is the death penalty. But this is the theoretical thing – i.e. theoretically it may be but there is not such a thing in practical.

Thus, in principle, punishment for Bnei Noah will be established the Bnei Noah, their communities by themselves. They can decide what specifically things will be punishable. For example, murder or theft are punishable without doubts. Wherein Bnei Noah by by themselves can decide that some actions – because they are not considered as a transgressions (idolatry for example) will not be punishable by human court. Although, theoretically, for idolatry the Jews can be punished by death but this has not happened for the last centuries.

In general, all things which were mentioned in literature about Ben Noah’s punishment, perhaps don’t underline enough that it is only the theoretical thing – like the punishment for Jews for breaking the Shabbat or for idolatry. But this is not the practical thing – in any sense – thus people were frightened fully in vain. That’s why in real world today there is no punishment for Bnei Noah from Bnei Noah community because such a punishment can appear only when Bnei Noah will be have their own state, which can establish a punishment for murder or for theft, or for something else. I think we just need to withdraw from the discussion.

Pinkhas Polonsky

Why the Bnei Noah have not an obligation to honor parents?

 

Question:

Why an obligation to honor parents don’t include into the Seven Commandments of Bnei Noah?

In 9 chapter of Genesis it is said about Noah’s Commandments – about Commandments which were be given to Noah. But there is no Commandment of Honour the parents. I was surprised by this fact. Thanks.

Answer:

Gaon Rabeinu Nisim said that Bnei Noah have a lot of another Commandments that were not be included in Seven Commandments. Seven Commandments unclude six Commandment which establish moral restriction: the prohibition of murder, the prohibition of theft, the prohibition of idolatry, the prohibition of blasphemy, the prohibition of adultery, the prohibition of eating parts of the living.

Seventh Commandment tell about an obligation to establish the justice court, and there is great disagreement over what exactly this means. Most believe that this Commandment includes the establish of courts and the imposition of punishments for breaking the six other Commandments. Besides this positive commandment, all others in the Commandment are prohibitions, and among them there are no positive Commandments that show what to do. Thus, the Commandment to respect parents is not included in the seven Commandments. Rabeinu Nisim says: it is obvious that in every society there are things that are recognized as logical and necessary by all people. And Bnei Noah must observe them.

It is also clear that in some cultures Bnei Noah may consider certain actions to be right and necessary, while in another culture such actions may be considered meaningless. Thus, in those cultures in which certain actions are considered correct and positive, Bnei Noah must observe them, while in other cultures they may not be necessary.

Thus, in principle, for all sons of Noah, regardless of the culture to which they belong, restrictions can be established, but commandments should not be established.

And society can decide for itself that some things are right and important for serving God, for example, the American Thanksgiving, about which some great rabbis say that there is a obligation to celebrate it.

Rav Yeshayahu Hollander

Both the ten Commandments and the seven Commandments of Bnei Noah list the Commandments for which, under certain conditions, a person can be sentenced to death. Thus, Bnei Noah are required to observe the commandment of respect for parents, but in case of violation they cannot be sentenced to death.

Rav Ouri Cherki