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Obviously a non-Jew cannot keep Shabbos but what if, for example, they wanted to keep kosher and say brachos on food? Are they rewarded?

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3 Answers 3

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It would appear they are, although not to the same extent.

In the Kuzari (1:27) it is written:

"...non-Jews who wish to adhere to the Torah will share in the rewards like us, though not to the same degree."

The Gemarah in Kiddushin 31a says:

וְאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: וּמָה מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְצֻוֶּוה וְעוֹשֶׂה – כָּךְ, מְצֻוֶּוה וְעוֹשֶׂה – עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: גָּדוֹל מְצֻוֶּוה וְעוֹשֶׂה מִמִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְצֻוֶּוה וְעוֹשֶׂה. And Rabbi Ḥanina says: And if this is related about one who is not commanded by the Torah to honor his father, as Dama was a gentile, and nevertheless when he performs the mitzva he is given this great reward, all the more so is one rewarded who is commanded to fulfill a mitzva and performs it. As Rabbi Ḥanina says: Greater is one who is commanded to do a mitzva and performs it than one who is not commanded to do a mitzva and performs it.

I think I remember reading somewhere that the reason they are rewarded less is because being commanded to do the mitzvos shows you truly believe in Hashem and want to follow His commandments, while a non-Jew may just be doing it as happenstance. If someone can clarify that would be great, because what if the non-Jew fully believes in Hashem and wants to serve him?

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    The Mishnah says "The reward is according to the effort." One who is commanded may not want to do it and have to force himself, so he earns a lot. One who is not commanded, but does it, obviously wants to do it and it brings him satisfaction, so he earns little. Sep 7, 2023 at 21:58
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    "In the Kuzari (1:27) it is written: '...non-Jews who wish to adhere to the Torah will share in the rewards like us, though not to the same degree.'" I'm not sure how much can be learned from that passage, as the Engilish translation used by Sefaria says: "...any Gentile who joins us unconditionally shares our good fortune, without, however, being quite equal to us". It doesn't mention Torah, or reward (nor do the Hebrew translations there)...
    – Tamir Evan
    Sep 8, 2023 at 9:56
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    ...On the whole, it could be referring to non-Jews choosing to live under Jewish authority, and keeping the 7 Mitzvot assigned to them (יעמוד בתורתו).
    – Tamir Evan
    Sep 8, 2023 at 9:57
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    @TamirEvan I was using the translation from this version : amazon.com/Kuzari-Defense-Despised-English-Hebrew/dp/1583308423 There is a detailed explanation on how they came to their translation in the book itself and they did an immense amount of research into making the book. I believe it is a credible source, but even so, the gemara says it outright anyway.
    – Seeker
    Sep 8, 2023 at 14:37
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    @Seeker not only that, but the context is talking about the Torah anyway and it is logical given the context that it is talking about the Kuzari in the text (it even mentions it right before any after).
    – HaLevi
    Sep 11, 2023 at 12:47
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a noahide is allowed to follow the torah, considering he doesnt change the correct way neither creates a new religion. its very clear for me when readng rambam:

9 A gentile who studies the Torah is obligated to die. They should only be involved in the study of their seven mitzvot.

Similarly, a gentile who rests, even on a weekday, observing that day as a Sabbath, is obligated to die. Needless to say, he is obligated for that punishment if he creates a festival for himself.

The general principle governing these matters is: They are not to be allowed to originate a new religion or create mitzvot for themselves based on their own decisions. They may either become righteous converts and accept all the mitzvot or retain their statutes without adding or detracting from them.

If a gentile studies the Torah, makes a Sabbath, or creates a religious practice, a Jewish court should beat him, punish him, and inform him that he is obligated to die. However, he is not to be executed.

10 We should not prevent a Noachide who desires to perform one of the Torah's mitzvot in order to receive reward from doing so, provided he performs it as required. If he brings an animal to be sacrificed as a burnt offering, we should receive it.

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No, gentiles earn no reward for observing commandments other than the seven Noahides laws. The Rambam writes:

[Gentiles] may become true converts [to Judaism] by accepting all the commandments or they must observe their own (seven Noahide) laws only, and not add or detract from them. [Mishneh Torah, Kings and Wars 10:9]

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  • Hmm a couple of contradicting sources here, how do you think we can reconcile the Rambam that disagrees with the Gemarah (and R' Yehuda HaLevi)?
    – HaLevi
    Sep 8, 2023 at 1:57
  • Well, first, Judah Halevi was a poet, not a rabbi, so I am not sure he counts as a halachic source. Second, the Gemara was talking only about honoring parents, which most people naturally do to some extent. Sep 8, 2023 at 14:40
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    The first part is about honoring one's parents but the second part is a quote of R' Chanina which was brought as proof.
    – HaLevi
    Sep 11, 2023 at 2:04
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    @MauriceMizrahi I looked at the article that someone commented with in my question, it quotes the Rambam there: Rambam, Laws of Kings 10;10, who says that a non-Jew may perform any mitzvot s/he wants. Could it be you're misunderstanding the Rambam? I'm sure he's not contradicting himself. I think it is probably nuanced and some mitzvos a gentile can do while others he cannot. Check out the article if you get a chance.
    – Seeker
    Sep 12, 2023 at 20:18
  • Your extrapolation here is incorrect. See H. Melakhim 10:10: בן נוח שרצה לעשות מצוה משאר מצוות התורה, כדי לקבל שכר--אין מונעין אותו לעשות אותה כהלכתה. Sep 18, 2023 at 18:38

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