One of the seven Noahide laws, applicable to all humankind, is: Establish courts of justice. The implication is that there must be law and order in a healthy society. But these laws can be vicious, discriminatory, and totally opposed to Torah values (even if they uphold the other six Noahide laws). Example: Nazi Germany. (What we would call murder can be written into law as capital punishment.)

Is it mainline Jewish teaching that "any laws" is better than "no laws", no matter what these laws are? Or is the 7th Noahide law interpreted by Chazal in a more restricted fashion?

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    Didn't the Nazis violate Don't Kill? They really missed the mark on that one IIRC
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2019 at 0:35
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    I believe Sodom is described midrashically as having corrupt laws.
    – Loewian
    Jun 5, 2019 at 2:15
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    This is a great question but I'm not entirely convinced Nazi Germany is the best example of the way a B'nai Noach legal system is supposed to work.... Jun 5, 2019 at 3:53
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    @JoshK -- That's my question: How IS a "B'nai Noach legal system supposed to work"? Jun 5, 2019 at 4:01
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    I think the question would be stronger if you'd replace Nazi Germany with a real or hypothetical regime that does not obviously violate other of the Noahide Laws but whose laws may be considered odious from a Jewish values point of view. I like Loewian's idea of using Sodom, or perhaps midat Sedom - a regime in which charity is illegal.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jun 5, 2019 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


In terms of how a Noahide Court System is supposed to function, there is an alleged malochet between the Rambam and Nachmonides. The Rambam states that the purpose of a Noahide court system (the seventh and final law for B'nai Noach being to create a court system) is exclusively to enforce the other six laws; Nachmonides gives such court systems broader powers. See below:

The Obligation to Create a System of Laws According to the medieval philosopher and codifier Maimonides, the legal system which Noahides are required to set up is specifically to establish punishments for infractions of the other six Noahide laws (Laws of Kings 9:14).

Nahmanides, a medieval Bible commentator, understands the obligation more broadly:

In my opinion, the laws which the Noahides were to establish according to their seven commandments is not only to establish courts in each town, but that they were also commanded concerning theft, abuse, usury, labor relations, damages, loans, business, and the like, just as Israel was commanded to set up laws in these matters (Nahmanides, Commentary to Genesis 34:13).

Later authorities, including Rabbi Moses Sofer (1763-1839), claim that Maimonides did not exclude what Nahmanides had included, but that Maimonides considered all of these laws to be included under the prohibition of “theft.”

Source: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-noahide-laws/amp/

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