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WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO ORDAIN NOAHIDE JUDGES?

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Imagine a world where justice and ethics go hand in hand, where non-Jews from all backgrounds resolve conflicts and foster peace based on the Seven Noahide Commandments. In such a world, there is room and an obligation for a unique concept: the idea of governments appointing Noahide judges, also known as “Dayanim” in Hebrew.

But let’s start at the beginning. What are Noahides?  The term “Noahide” refers to non-Jewish individuals who adhere to the seven universal laws given according to G-d’s teachings to Noah and his descendants. These laws include principles such as the prohibitions of murder, theft, and idolatry. They form the basis for a just society. The seven universal laws were eternalized by G-d in the Torah of Moses, along with their details that were passed down in the Jewish Oral Torah tradition.

Now, onto the crux of the matter: the appointment of a Noahide judge, or Dayan. But who has the authority to validly bestow such ordinations?

This brings us to the first question we need to answer: who has the authority to authentically appoint someone as a Noahide judge? The answer to this question is crucial, as it determines the legitimacy of the entire concept. This is where the article we are referring to comes into play.

But let’s not rush ahead. Let’s first consider the second question: is it possible to have a Noahide court in the present condition of the world?

The idea of a Noahide court may sound new and perhaps even radical to many. But when we consider the principles of justice and ethics, it doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea. After all, if the world truly aims for peace and harmony, why not make room for a legal system based on universal principles of morality?

Of course, this is needed, and it is the subject of the Noahide commandment for Dinim – establishment of righteous laws and courts. But who has the authority to make a legal system of laws and courts, which includes enforcement officers and the criteria for the ordination of judges/Dayanim? According to the majority opinion of the Jewish Sages, this authority and responsibility is a societal, rather than individual, obligation. So, it falls upon a ruling government whose existence and laws are accepted and authorized by (at least) a majority of the citizens.

By Angelique Sijbolts

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