Jun 28, 2010

Because we aren't human!

A judge in Georgia, asked his Partner in Torah whether he was a rabbi.  He said he wasn't a rabbi; he was a businessman and the judge was disappointed since he had a question that nobody was able to answer to his satisfaction. 

What was his question?

He had marched for civil rights in Selma and he firmly believed that all humans are created equal, so why does the Torah say Jews are the Chosen People?

Hashem helped him formulate an answer which pleased the judge which went something like this.  He said Jews are 0.2% of the world population and yet, Jews have received 22% of Nobel Prizes.  When Time magazine was considering who to put on the cover as Man of the Century, they were undecided between Karl Marx, Freud, and Einstein, all Jewish (they picked Einstein).  Why are we consistently superior in ways that greatly surpass our numbers? Because we are G-d's ambassadors to the world and have a mission to carry out and a message to convey.

That's a fine answer but I heard an even better one.  Yes, all humans are created equal but Jews aren't human! We are neshamos, a veritable part of G-d Above, and we are here on earth in the guise of humans.  We look like everyone else but are hated because we are not truly like everyone else; we are alien beings - neshamos.  Hashem sent down angels in the form of humans (see Bereishis) and that did not work out well.  Neshamos, sent down in the form of humans, works. 

This idea is discussed by Maharal.  There are the four levels within the Beria (creation): inanimate, plant life, animals, and humans, and Yisrael is a separate, higher category which is part of the Borei (the Creator).  As a convert friend of mine told me, non-Jews are often fine with this idea.  They get annoyed when Jews try to act like them.  It's very often Jews who squirm at the idea of being Chosen.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein tells of a lecture he gave for Gateways in which he asked the audience what makes Jews special.  He got hostile responses from "I don't think Jews are special" to "That's racist!" to people walking out.  At a later point in his lecture he asked the audience where they thought someone granted a green card to any country on earth would pick and they enthusiastically responded America! When asked why, they offered many reasons: the economy, the education system, the can-do attitude, etc.

R' Rubinstein then pointed out to them how ironic it was that when it came to extolling America as the best country to live in, they had no problem doing that but when it came to extolling being Jewish, they rejected their Jewishness as anything special. 

Time to relearn the song, "I'm a Jew and I'm proud and I sing it out loud, forever that's what I'll be.  I'm a Jew and I'm proud and I sing it out loud and I know Hashem is watching over me."

1 comment:

  1. Approx 30% of the student body at Yale University is Jewish and the school emblem is the urim v'tumim.
    I never realized that we are not really human but that does make sense.