May 27, 2013

You are Holy, Chosen, Special, Beloved ...

In an article in the OU's spring 2013 Jewish Action, their executive vice president wrote an article about "The Chosen People" here.  He says:

"With the exception of the Kuzari, almost all Rishonim (medieval scholars) make it very clear that every human being, Jew and gentile alike, is created in the Divine image. The term tzelem Elokim is ascribed to all of humanity—not just Jews. Every human being is created in God’s image (i.e., we were all created with an abstract intellect that enables us to perceive the knowledge of God through the prisms of physics and metaphysics). No human being is inherently better than any other human being. If that is the case, then what does it mean that Jews are the Am Hanivchar, the Chosen Nation?

He goes on to say that being chosen means we have a mission to partner with Hashem, but I want to focus on the part where he says we are not inherently special.  I read this in astonishment. 

Devarim 14:2 (among other places) states, "You are a holy nation to Hashem your G-d, and Hashem picked you to be for Him His precious nation from all the nations on the face of the earth." This follows a pasuk which states we are Hashem's children. There is no mention here at all about our uniqueness being linked to an assignment.

We are called holy, we are chosen by G-d to be an "am segula" (treasured people) from all the nations and He chose us because of His love for us.  Nothing about missions.

And does Weil think that gentiles and Jews have the same neshama?! Does he think the concept of "pintele yid" is just a manner of speech? What does he think happens to a gentile who converts? He is the same as before and this is merely a technical matter, that he is now considered a Jew according to halacha? I guess so.  Nor does he have an explanation as to why we the Torah expects us to love our fellow Jews. 

I've encountered this reluctance on the part of Jews, religious Jews, to accept that we are inherently different, by virtue of our divine souls.  There is the inanimate, plant life, animal life, human life and a fifth category that incomparably different and greater than the previous four.  A Jew.

1 comment:

  1. He is obviously completely ignorant of the way that the concept of a Jewish soul is explained in Kabbalah and Chassidus, which has widely been accepted as normative Judaism in our times. Since Kabbalah and Chassidus are the Neshama of Torah, one who fails to study them will be out of touch, or even completely ignorant, of such concepts as "Pinteleh Yid" and a Jew having an extra Neshamah. Yes, explicit pesukim prove that Jews are inherently different, but the influence of the modern secular mindset that says that it is wrong to in any way view any group as inherently different and (gasp!) superior to another colors the judgment of the mind unfortified by the teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidus.

    On the true meaning of both the Jew and non-Jew being created Be'tzelem Elokim, see the three-part series of articles starting here.