The levels of a Gentiles acceptance of the Commandments
- Unobservant Noachide (An Akum or Nokri) – A gentile who does not observe the seven commandments, i.e. an athiest, idol worshiper or practitioner of another religion.
- Observant Noachide (Righteous Noachide) – A Righteous Gentile who observes the seven commandments and does what the law requires of him.
- Noachide Chassid (Pious Noachide) – A Pious Gentile who ‘goes beyond the letter of the law’ and what is required of him.
- Ger Toshav – A resident stranger (gentile) in the Holy Land, who observed the seven commandments – Not applicable until the Moshiach comes.
- Ger Tzadek – A righteous stranger – a gentile who fully converts and takes on the status and commandments of a Jew.
The three levels of a gentiles acceptance of the Commandments, according to the Rambam.
Rambam's Hilchos Melachim 8:10'Moses was commanded by the Almighty to compel all the inhabitants of the world to accept the laws given Noah's descendants. If one does not accept these laws, he should be executed. A person who formally accepts these laws is called a resident alien (Ger Toshav). This applies in any place. This acceptance must be made in the presence of three Torah scholars.' Rambam's Hilchos Melachim 8:11'Anyone who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these Seven Commandments and is precise in their observance is considered one of the Pious among the Gentiles (Chasidei Umot HaOlam - מֵחֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם) and will merit a share in the World to Come. This applies only when he accepts them and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the Torah and informed us through Moses, our teacher, that even previously, Noah's descendants were commanded to fulfill them. However, if he fulfills them out of intellectual conviction, he is not a resident alien, nor of the Pious among the Gentiles, but rather, of their wise men.' Definition: Ger Toshav - a Resident Stranger (Gentile) who dwells in the Holy Land. (N.B. Currently in this era nobody can become a Ger Toshav, until the Jubilee Year is reintroduced in Israel when the King Moshiach comes).
- Chochmei Umos HaOlam - A wise gentile, a gentile who fulfills the Seven Commandments out of intellectual conviction.
- Chasidei Umot HaOlam - The Pious among the Gentiles, individuals who accept the Seven Commandments with proper intent, but do not formalize their acceptance.
- Ger Toshav - A resident alien who makes a formal commitment in the presence of a Beth Din. [N.B. Currently in this Era nobody can become a Ger Toshav, until the Jubilee Year is reintroduced in Israel when the King Moshiach comes].
In biblical times a Gentile who observed the seven Noachide laws in the Holy Land was regarded as a resident alien or Ger Toshav in Hebrew. (גֵר תּוֹשָׁב)
The Gemara (Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zarah 64b) quotes three opinions regarding who is a Ger Toshav, and they are:
Rambam's Hilchos Issurei Bi'ah 14:7What is meant by a Ger Toshav (resident alien)? A gentile who makes a commitment not to worship false deities and to observe the other six universal laws commanded to Noah's descendants. He does not circumcise himself nor immerse. We accept this commitment and he is considered one of the pious gentiles. Why is he called a resident? Because we are permitted to allow him to dwell among us in the land of Israel, as explained in Hilchos Avodah Zarah. Rambam's Hilchos Issurei Bi'ah 14:8We accept resident aliens only during the era when the Jubilee year is observed. In the present era, even if a gentile makes a commitment to observe the entire Torah with the exception of just one minor point, he is not accepted. Rambam's Hilchot Avodat Cochavim 10:6'The laws concerning the sale of property and support of the poor, et cetera, mentioned in this chapter apply only when the Jews are exiled amongst the nations, or when they are attacking the Jews, but when we are attacking them it is forbidden to have them in our midst. Concerning temporary residence or moving from one rented house to another; we may not allow a gentile into our land unless he has accepted upon himself the Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah, for it is written, "They shall not dwell in your land", even for a single hour. If a gentile accepted upon himself the Seven Commandments then he is classed as a settling stranger. Settling strangers are accepted only at a time when the Jubilee is observed, but a righteous stranger, i.e. a convert, is accepted at all times.'
- Rebbi Meir maintains that a Ger Toshav is a Nochri (stranger) who accepts upon himself, in front of three "Chaverim" (Talmidei Chachamim), not to worship idols.
- The Chachamim say that a Ger Toshav is a Nochri who accepts upon himself to observe the seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach.
- Acherim maintain that the above opinions are incorrect, and that a Ger Toshav is a Nochri who accepts all of the Mitzvos except for not eating Neveilos (animals that were not slaughtered properly).
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