Levels of acceptance

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.
  1. Chochmei Umos HaOlam – A wise gentile, a gentile who fulfills the Seven Commandments out of intellectual conviction.
  2. Chasidei Umot HaOlam – The Pious among the Gentiles, individuals who accept the Seven Commandments with proper intent, but do not formalize their acceptance.
  3. 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].
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).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. The Chachamim say that a Ger Toshav is a Nochri who accepts upon himself to observe the seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach.
  3. 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).
Rambam’s Hilchos Issurei  Bi’ah 14:7
What 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 14:8
We 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.’