Will A Non Jew who did not keep the Noachide Laws be Held Accountable on yom hadin?

After all, he can claim he didn't know anything about them.

Maybe there is a difference between a gentile in China where there are almost zero Jews and a gentile in New york.

The question can also be asked for a Jew who was brought up non religiously, although maybe there, there's more grounds for a claim


2 Answers 2


A non-Jew is accountable because he should have learned the laws and he didn't (Bava Kama 92a; Rambam, Melachim 10:1).

Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman (Kovetz Maamarim, Maamar Al Emunah; available in the preview here and partially translated to English online here) explains that a person naturally should think about the purpose of life, and even a drunkard shouldn't remain under the impression that the purpose of life is to drink beer. An unbiased investigation should eventually come to the conclusion to look for G-d's instructions given in the Torah, and follow them.

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    ok. but most non jews intuitively do believe in a higher power - Gd. but how would they make that jump to believing in Judaism, especially since many will never even be exposed to Jews
    – ray
    Oct 3, 2012 at 21:58
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    @Raymond, i think that all the 7 Noahide laws are things that a person with sense can come to. Perhaps eating a live animal is hard to understand, but even that perhaps one can understand that it is a cruel thing to do.
    – Yehuda
    Oct 27, 2012 at 18:45
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    @yehuda wont help since the Rambam says that a nonjew must fulfill the noahide laws thru belief in the torah, not out of logic.
    – ray
    Jul 9, 2013 at 19:36
  • @ray Rambam merely says, that in order to be guaranteed a share in the world to come, he must fulfill them because of belief in the Torah. However that is not to say that he would be held culpable even though he NEVER transgressed any his obligations out of intellectual conviction. Jan 20, 2019 at 13:52
  • @ray I agree that he doesn't explain that part well. He writes only about belief in God until the very last paragraph in which he proves in a few sentences both the necessity of believing in the Torah and the Messiah. Maybe someone who knows Rabbi Wasserman's writings better than I do can answer how he sees those beliefs as logical conclusions of belief in God.
    – b a
    Jan 20, 2019 at 14:23

According to the Mishneh Torah, only a Ben Noach (one who has accepted the 7 Noahide Laws) is to be held accountable for violating his laws, whether he is aware that he violated a specific law, or not (Melachim uMilchamot 10:1).

A non-Jew who has not accepted the Noahide Laws upon himself, especially if unaware of them, would not be culpable for their violation. On the other hand, one who fulfills them out of intellectual conviction is not guaranteed a share in the world to come, either (ibid. 8:11).

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    Can you bring a source for "ben noach" referring only to someone who accepted them upon himself?
    – b a
    Oct 3, 2012 at 21:59
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    I don't think you accurately represented the Rambam. He writes that someone who fulfills the laws out of good sense is not guaranteed a portion in the world to come as is someone who abides by those laws specifically for the sake of serving God. That does not mean that the can't obtain a portion in the world to come.
    – Fred
    Oct 3, 2012 at 22:16
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    @TamirEvan all people are children of Noah. Oct 3, 2012 at 22:52
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    @ba Yes, I realize that. But Charles Koppelman was trying to claim that because "all people are children of Noah", then the term Benei Noach means 'all non-Jews'. What I was trying to point out was, that Benei Noach doesn't mean 'all people'( Jews are descendants of Noach, but are not Benei Noach). So, if Benei Noach only refers to a subset of "all people", then why can't it also refer only to a subset of 'all non-Jews', especially when there are perfectly good terms( Nokhri, Goy) to refer to 'all non-Jews'?
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 16, 2012 at 5:06
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    @ba Then, does that mean that idol-worshipers are not Benei Noach, and exempt from the Noahide Laws? Also: here, here and here it is Goy. To the best of my knowledge, it is the censored editions that use עכו"ם instead of גוי( I don't have the Farnkel edition with me, to confirm it).
    – Tamir Evan
    Oct 18, 2012 at 4:51

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