Dear Rabbi Ginsburgh,
It appears to me, by glancing across the history of humankind, that every civilized people have tried to attain or strengthen their relationship with the divine, and that this is not strictly a Jewish mission. In my neighborhood, there are a number of different churches, temples and mosques. Furthermore, in Judaism something that is holy, is something that has been separated, or set aside for special use. For example, Jews are a “holy” people and should be separated from the rest of the world. For example, Jews should not intermarry. This appears to cause divisions and create a sense of plurality in the world. Should we not strive to underline the sense of unity or oneness in the world? The mentality of “We are all human. Both you and me. We are all one.” I would appreciate it if you could help me with these questions. Thank you.
A: God is referred to as “Special.” In Hebrew, “Echad, Yachid Umeyuchad.” Those whose souls possess an actual “part” of God are thus also “special.” This implies “task” and “purpose” in creation – to bring the consciousness of One Special God to all mankind.
A Jew is primarily an influencer. He is able to manifest Godliness for the entire world to see. This is the power of the Jewish soul, which is literally a part of God. This is not the case with the non-Jewish soul, which is primarily a receiver. The non-Jew can recognize and turn to God, and God will answer him. He also has the Seven Noachide commandments to which to devote himself and perform, as well as all the spiritual meditations for the non-Jew.
It is of utmost importance that the Jewish core remain holy and separate. The Torah refers to the Jewish people as, “a nation that dwells alone.” This separation is not in order to create plurality, but rather to ensure that the Jewish nation remains holy and strong. This will create a sense of ultimate unity, when all the sparks presently in the non-Jewish consciousness or souls become attracted or connected to the Jewish people. If the Jewish people, God forbid, intermarry, they lose their strength, which creates plurality.
We know that there is a tremendous plurality of nations around the world that are rivals with other nations. The purpose of the Jewish people is to create a strong pillar and beacon of faith that shines to the entire world and attracts all the sparks. Ultimately, all the people of the earth will come to worship God at the one Temple. Without the uniqueness of the Jewish people, the world cannot reach a state of unity.
A plethora of churches, temples and mosques in every town is not unity, but rather plurality. Unity is one absolute Divine truth and one source of Divine revelation to which all the peoples of the earth subscribe. To some extent, all the nations will “metamorphose” into a more Jewish state of being. This will create true unity in the world.
The mentality that “we are all human, so we are all one” is the lowest common denominator of humanity. Chassidut explains that a person at the beginning of his service of God should identify with all of God’s creatures, even the lowliest insects. We were all created to serve God. The human being, who has choice, is more liable to sin than an insect, who always performs the will of God. Thus, one should actually feel himself on a lower level than every creature in the world.
There is no chauvinism in the Jewish faith. Chassidut explains that a Jew has more potential to exert a negative influence on the world than a non-Jew, due to his expanded spiritual role. If the Jew possesses a power that the non-Jew does not, it is not in his own virtue. It is simply a Diving gift and must be used properly and not, God forbid, abused.
The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that there are three stages that lead to true unity. These stages are submission, separation and sweetening.
With regard to the relationship between the Jewish and non-Jewish world, these three stages are as follows:
Submission is the recognition that all human beings are equal in body and natural soul, which is man’s general state of awareness.
Separation is the recognition that beside the natural soul, the Jewish people also possess a Divine soul. Thus, the Jewish people received the Torah, with its 613 commandments, while non-Jews are obligated to fulfill only 7 commandments.
Sweetening is the process through which, as a result of the above submission and separation, the Divine soul of Israel will become revealed to all. Consequently, all of mankind will be drawn upward in united aspiration to connect to the Divinity manifest in the Jewish People, and will call in the Name of God to serve Him “with one shoulder.”
The source for this statement is (Deuteronomy 6:4), “Hear O’ Israel, Havayah is our God, God is one.” This verse refers to God’s attribute of mercy. The last word, “one” refers to the fact that all is God’s mercy. This verse is the unification that was given in the Torah for Jews. The Biblical commentator, Rashi, explains that Havayah is our God in this world, but that in the world to come (after the arrival of the Mashiach) the recognition that, “God is One” will be fulfilled for all the world, as in the verse (Zecharia 14:9), “And God will be King of all the world, on that day God will be One and His Name will be One.”
One must see the Divine spark in every Jew as well as in every non-Jew. Everything that G-d created is for His honor. Thus, everything can reveal the honor of G-d, the ultimate purpose of creation. A person must love all of God’s creations, which helps them to reveal and manifest God’s honor.