The Seven Principles of Divine Service for Righteous Gentiles
The Nature of the Soul
The Seven Noahide Commandments
The Seven Principles of Faith
“All is in the Hands of Heaven Except for the Fear of Heaven”
Mercy–God Performs Miracles
Victory (Trust)–Self Transformation
Sincerity–”I am Abraham’s Servant”
Lowliness–A Home for God
As mentioned above, a non-Jew possesses free will inasmuch as he can choose to keep or ignore his seven commandments. But in a larger sense, there is only one choice to be made. From the saying of our sages that “all is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven,” we understand that man’s free will relates specifically to his fear of Heaven.
In a sense, this precept pertains to the Divine service of the non-Jew in particular. There are two similar verses in Psalms that begin with the phrase, “Serve God….” One reads: “Serve God in joy…”; the other reads: “Serve God in fear….” Our sages interpret the verse “Serve God in joy” as addressing, in particular, those who are already God’s People. The verse, “Serve God in fear” addresses those who are currently gentiles. It is important to realize that the ladder of faith can be climbed by every human being; ANYONE whose soul moves him or her to do so can become a Jew, one of God’s People, a living part of “the son of God.”
There are many levels of fear or awe of God. For the gentile, the most basic level–the one which motivates him to refrain from sin–is fear of punishment. For the Jew, the most basic fear is the fear of God as omnipotent King of the universe. Whereas both levels relate to God’s power to decree life or death, the first does not focus on the Almighty King Himself, but solely on the threat of His punishment.
When the fear of the non-Jew connects to that of the Jew, he also becomes able to experience the King Himself, and turn to Him in awe. This is the essence of the power of free will in the soul of the non-Jew. The one and only choice that a person truly makes in life is whether or not to turn to God. Ultimately, a Jew turns to God in love, the love of a son for his father. A non-Jew first turns to God in fear, the fear of a servant for his master. Nonetheless, it is the fear in the Jewish soul that elevates the fear of the non-Jew.
The greatest example in the Bible of a non-Jewish society turning to God is the account of the repentance of Nineveh, recorded in the book of Jonah. Jews read this story at the high point of the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It was a Jewish soul, the soul of Jonah, that became a tool in the hands of God to arouse a multitude of non-Jewish souls to turn to Him in sincere repentance. It appears from the text that the inhabitants of Nineveh were motivated by fear of punishment. However, after being inspired by Jonah, and hearing of the miracle that he experienced, they in turn experienced a sense of awe for the God of Israel.