Dear Kavod HaRav, Shalom U’brachot!
I’m Alberto Bentzion Rodrigues, and I transmit Noahide knowledge to a study Group in Brazil - http://setemandamentos.wordpress.com/ -. I’m a convert, and here in Brazil my Rabbi is the Professor R. Alexandre Leone shlita PhD, and I have instructions from USA from the Rabbi Moshe ben Chaim, shlita, founder of the Mesora project: www.mesora.org:
Learning together the Sefer HaKuzari, work of the Great Rabbi Iehuda Halevi זצק’ל and we arrived on a critic point just on the first part of the book:
Generally Speaking Rabbi Iehuda presents clearly in his book the doctrine of the inherent superiority of the Jew over the non Jew (and Israel over others Nations). He says that the born Jew receives the called “overflow” of the Divine influence by simply being born Jew, and that comes by a choice of God before the person actually born or perhaps moments before that, considering that the person was actually created during that stage of his life. And this allow him to achieve elevated spiritual realms, like prophecy if he so desire (if he acts accordingly doing justice and like). But even if he does not behave accordingly, not receiving it though, the “seed” still in him so any future descendant of him may become great being his descendant, citing the case of Terah father of Avraham.
The non Jew does not had or have this opportunity, even if he or she behaves in righteous way. Looking forward to explain himself he says that, in questions 31 to 43, as is established in nature, plants have a lesser soul than animals do, as animals has lesser or inferior soul compared to humans. I wonder if not this was the way of thinking of the Ramchal. Accordingly, the Jews should be a kind of above-human class, as is “proved” by the miracles occurred to Moses (being without food for 40 days, walk in fire inside Sinai and others miracles) and to the Israelites in the desert. This should be considered as example to the inherently spiritual superiority of all Jews. I wish to mention that I could re-interpret everything here on my own way looking for rational understanding of the text. But I think this is not fair to the author if he did not mean it.
Latter on he explains that God did revealed His Torah to Israel and not to all humanity simply because that should not be possible – not for God – but for Humanity to receive it because of their inherent inferiority. He explains in questions 94 , 95 and 102 103 to mentions just few examples, that this is established in Scripture since its very beginning, starting with Adam – the very work of God – who transmitted his superiority to Hevel somelike genetically, and not to Caim as proved by his behavior. (Which could mean that he did that because he was inferior in his nature, so he could not avoided ir, explaining why God did not punished him immediately with death? Because such inferior creature should receive some mercy?). So after the assassination, we saw that Shet came into being and receiving from Adam the perfection at birth, and so on until Noah, Shem and Ever. From then the inherent perfection was transmitted to Abraham only. From him only to Itzchak and no Ishmael or others sons. And from Itzchak to Iaacov only and not to Essav. Iaacov was the first – according to Rabbi Iehuda – to transmit that inherent perfection to the 12 sons equally. That’s the why only the Children of Israel were chosen by God to receive the Torah. If a gentile chooses to join Israel, he or she will receive great reward for it, but still in an inferior state compared with the born Jew for this “obvious” reason. He or she did not have the inherent superiority only gained at birth. So – he says – is impossible for this convert to become a prophet, by his natural imperfection despite his efforts:
All this is found in the first dialogue registered in the book of the Kuzari.
My question then is obvious – Those works, called “Judaism Classics” makes clear that If it so, that humanity in condemned to a lesser degree of spirituality, being this a – some like – genetically pre-condition being this the very WHY they should keep ONLY the Seven Laws of Noah, because they can have no more BEING the Goym they are, what kind of Divine Justice is that? If HE created the perfect one and established that this perfection should not be available to all but only to few chosen’s ones, whom could or not appreciate it, but negating this perfection to the others? Should someone born after those generations be guilty by the fault of their ancestors because they refused to comprehend something thousands years ago, or because they did not received a Public Revelation as the Jews received and obviously believed it? Because if the main reason why the Jews received the Revelation was because they were in a super human state of being – also being this the reason the Torah apply just for then and not others – Where is the impartiality of God on it? Surely He is partial, preferring some ones and rejecting others arbitrarily.
But I want to bring to your attention that I did not stopped on that book. I researched about it and I found that this doctrine is not found only in the Sefer Kuzari, so it is not an isolated opinion, but also others important works from Chazal זצק’ל speak about it. To make justice I wish to mentions their own words about it. I had researched it from Halachah point of view and Kabbalah point of view. I’m just sending you the Kabbalah point of view. If you accept the task to clarify my, then I could send you what I found in the Halacha that consorts with this – on my opinion – wrong idea:
The Differences Between the Jews and the Gentiles -- In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought
A. The Ra’avad
We have already mentioned the words of the Ra’avad with regards to an animal slaughtered by a Gentile: "for the Gentiles are like animals…and one who thinks of them as something [worthwhile] will gather the wind in his fist." It is clear that this is not a simple Halachic argument merely explaining why he disagrees with Maimonides on matters of Halacha, but rather the expression of an entire outlook concerning the Gentiles. As far as an explanation is concerned, his words speak for themselves.
B. Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, as I mentioned
In the first part of his book The Kuzari, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi explains at length the nation of Israel’s exceptional nature and the difference between them and the other nations. To the Kuzari king’s question (paragraph 102): "Why was the Torah not given to all mankind? Would it not have been better or more commensurate with Divine wisdom?" the Rabbi answers (paragraph 103): "Would it not have been best if all the animals could speak? You have apparently forgotten what I said earlier concerning the genealogy of Adam’s progeny: that at first the spirit of Divine prophecy rested on one person, who was chosen from his brethren, and inherited the merit of his father. It was he in whom the Divine light was concentrated. He was the kernel, while the others were as shells which had no share in that light. Thus it was until the sons of Jacob came, who all were the meritorious kernel, distinguished from all the other people by G-dly qualities, which made them, so to speak, an different genus -- an angelic one. Each of them, Divine endeavored to attain the degree of prophecy, most of them succeeded in so doing; even those who were not successful were close to that degree in their pious acts, sanctity, purity, and interaction with the prophets."
So we see that the Jews, because of their special spiritual level, are considered to be a genus different from all the other people.
C. The Maharal
The Maharal of Prague OBM, explains the saying of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, "You are called men" in a number of places. In the book Gevurot HaShem chapter 44 (page 167) he wrote: "…for even if all human beings have a common shape, there still is a distinction…there are nations who have more of a tendency towards the physical and their actions testify to this, for they are inclined towards lust and abominable things. This is evidence of their materialistic nature…and as we find animals, which are like an intermediary between man and the rest of the animal world, such as the monkey…likewise there exist men--who are not completely men. Therefore he [Rashbi] spoke of, the complete man who doesn’t gravitate towards materialism too much -- these are the Jews, for they possess the complete form without a tendency towards materialism. However, as for the other nations, their form is nullified by their material aspect, until they, so to speak, cease to be ’men,’ because their material aspect is primary and their form is secondary -- and in everything which has both a primary and a secondary aspect, the secondary aspect is always nullified by the primary aspect. With the Jews, however, the opposite is true, for their form is primary and their material aspect is secondary, and is therefore nullified."
In chapter 67 (ibid., page 311-312) he wrote: "For even thought all human beings were created in the image of G-d, said it is written: ’You are called men and the nations of the world are not called men,’ for the G-dly form that was placed in man should not be nullified. In the Gentiles, who are extremely materialistic, this form is nullified by the materialistic aspect until the form itself becomes materialistic. Concerning the Jews, however, the material aspect is nullified compared to the form, and since the material aspect is nullified by the form, they are considered men."
Regarding what is written in Avot, chapter 3, mishnah 17 (in the Vilna edition, mishnah 14), "He used to say, ’beloved is man for he is created in [G-d’s] image,’ a greater love spreads upon him because he was created in [G-d’s] image, as it is written: ’For with G-d’s image He made man;’ beloved are Israel, for they are called G-d’s children. A greater love spreads upon them, for they are called G-d’s children, as is written, ’You are the children of the Lord, your G-d’." The Maharal wrote in his commentary on Avot, "Derech Chaim," (Hanig edition, page 146; in R’ Chaim Pardes’s edition, page 354): "Even though it says ’Beloved is man,’ this does not include all human beings, for Chazal said: ’You are called men and the nations are not called men’ -- as though the completeness of the Creation, which is given to man in particular, is given to the Jews and not to the other nations…And even though this advantage is only possessed by Israel, he said on this matter ’beloved is man’ and not ’beloved are Israel,’ because there is a great difference [between the two]. Even though this advantage is also possessed by Israel in particular, nevertheless, there does exist the form of man in the nations also. However, the principal form of man does not appear in the nations. In any case, this image does exist amongst the rest of the nations, but it is worthless, and therefore he did not say ’beloved are Israel who were created in G-d’s image.’ Additionally, when man was created, this advantage was only possessed by Adam and Noah, even though they are not called ’Israel.’ Though after G-d chose Israel this Image was lessened amongst the nations, nevertheless His image belongs to man in essence, and this matter is clear" (see also "Netzach Yisrael," page 73).
In "Netzach Yisrael" chapter 14 (page 83) it is written: "…Israel is special and separate from all the Gentiles, for the Gentiles are on a materialistic level, whereas Israel is on the ’form’ level…as Chazal said: ’You are called men and the nations are not called men,’ as though it were an ordinary thing for them, that the comparison between Israel and the Gentiles is similar to the comparison between man and animals who cannot speak, and this is because man is distinct from animals in that he is not materialistic and physical like the rest of the animal world; man is intelligent. This is the level of Israel, for they are distinguished from the material and are not immersed in it. Likewise with regards to Israel, the material is nullified compared to the soul; the material aspect is merely a transporter with the soul riding upon it, and the material is nullified, just like an ass is nullified and secondary with regards to one who rides on it. So is the matter with Israel, when they fulfill the will of G-d they alone are considered a transcendent form. However, in regards to the nations it is the exact opposite, as though their soul is nullified compared to the body, and as though they are only body and material."
In "Tif’eret Yisrael," at the end of the first chapter, the Maharal wrote: "…what Chazal said: ’You are called men and the nations are not called men’…for the special difference between man and the animals is that man possess a Heavenly soul. Behold, those who possess this Heavenly soul are prepared for Heavenly matters such as prophecy and the Divine spirit, and this matter can only be found in the nation that G-d has chosen. Therefore they in particular are called ’man,’ in completeness, in that they possess everything worthy of being called ’man’… Therefore, ’you are called men.’ Subsequently, the commandments as Heavenly actions are particularly related to Israel in their entirety…"
Also in "Gur Aryeh" on the portion of Matot (page 164 s.v. v’ein ha’goyim) it is written: "…and this is what they said ’You are called men and the nations are not called men,’ for the difference that exists between the animal world and man exists within you exceedingly, but the nations are not ’men,’ for their souls are immersed in the material, associated with the materialistic animal world, and this matter is clear."
D. The Ramchal
In the book "Derech Hashem," part 2, section 4, the Ramchal explained at length the difference between Israel and the nations of the world:
One of the deepest concepts of G-d’s providence involves Israel and the other nations. With regards to their basic human characteristics, the two appear exactly alike. From the Torah’s viewpoint, however, the two are completely different, and are treated as ones belonging to completely different genera…
Before Adam sinned, he was on a level much higher than contemporary man… In that state, man was on a very lofty level, fit for a high degree of eternal excellence…He would have then sired future generations while still in that state of excellence. Their number would be accurately determined by G-d’s wisdom, depending on how those enjoying His good should best be perfected...
G-d had also determined and decreed that all these generations that would have been born of Adam should exist on various pre-determined levels. Some generations would thus be primary, while others would be secondary, like roots and branches. Later generations would stem from the earlier ones [and share their characteristics], like branches stemming from a tree…
However, when Adam sinned, he fell from his original high level, and brought upon himself a great degree of darkness and insensitivity…. Mankind in general also fell from its original height, and remained on a degraded level…He was thus only prepared and receptive to a much lower level, and it was in this state that his children were born…they were all born into this degraded state…
Nevertheless, even in the time of his downfall, the elevated aspect that existed in man as a result of his true root was not completely extinguished. Adam was therefore not cast aside completely, and could still return to the higher level. But he was actually on a lower plane with only the potential for the higher level.
Behold, G-d gave Adam’s descendants the choice, at that time, to strengthen themselves and strive to elevate themselves from this lower state and regain the higher level. The Highest Wisdom, however, determined the length of time best suited for such an effort…
The Highest Wisdom deemed it fitting that this effort be divided into a period for the roots and another for the branches. The original effort would thus be that of the founding generations, while what would come later would involve the following generations. The whole human race still needed its state to be properly determined and the spiritual damage that had been done to be rectified gradually. The proper procedure…the roots and chiefs of Adam’s descendants would first elevate themselves to the rectified level -- once this had been accomplished, both the roots and their branches would remain in this state forever, since the branches always follow the roots.
The time provided for generations to function as roots, however, was limited, so one…who prepared himself properly would permanently become a good and worthy root. He would then be prepared for a high degree of excellence, appropriate for man in his original state… He would also attain the opportunity to produce offspring…on the level and state already attained by him as their root.
The period during which this was possible extended from the time of Adam until the generation of the Tower of Babel. During this period there never ceased to be some righteous people who preached the truth to the multitudes, such as Enoch, Methuselah, Shem and Eber…Man’s measure was filled, however, in the generation of the Tower of Babel. G-d’s attribute of justice then decreed that the time when men could be considered roots should come to a close. Until this time, things could become a permanent part of these roots, depending on…until this period came to a close.
G-d then scrutinized all mankind, perceiving the levels that should be made permanent in that generation’s people according to their deeds. These things then became a permanent part of their nature in their aspect as roots…It was thus determined that they should bear future generations, all possessing the qualities that were deemed appropriate for their root [ancestor]. So all human beings were thus divided into permanent genera, each with its own characteristics and limitations, just as all other genera in Creation…
According to the Highest Judgment, it turned out that none of them deserved to rise above the degraded level…not even a little bit. But Abraham, being the only exception, succeeded in elevating himself through his deeds, which led to him being chosen by G-d. Abraham was therefore permanently made into a superior and excellent tree, conforming to man’s highest level. It was further provided that he would be able to produce branches [and father a nation] based on his characteristics. The world was then divided into seventy nations, each on its own particular level in the general scheme. All of them, however, remained on the level of man in his fallen state, while only Israel became men in the elevated state.
After this, the gate was closed on the era of roots. Things would then be directed and brought about on the level of branches, each one according to his nature…. When this period ended, things were judged and made permanent, and a new era began. This is the era of branches, which is still ongoing…
The verdict, however, was not that the other nations should be destroyed. It only meant that they would have to remain on the lower level that we have discussed. This lower state of man should never have existed, had Adam not sinned… These nations still have the human aspect, blemished though it may be, so G-d desired that they should at least have a part of what was actually appropriate for the true mankind. He therefore granted them a divine soul somewhat like that of the Jew, even though it is not on the same level as Jewish souls are, but on a much lower level. They were likewise given commandments through which they could attain both material and spiritual advantages appropriate to their nature -- the Seven Commandments given to the children of Noah.
In the World to Come, however, there will be no nation other than Israel. The souls of righteous Gentiles will be allowed to exist in the Future World, but only as an addition and attachment to Israel. They will therefore be secondary to the Jews, just as a garment is secondary to the one who wears it. All that they attain of the ultimate good will have to be attained in this manner, since by virtue of their nature they can receive no more.
Jews, therefore, are the "true humanity," whereas the Gentiles are only "on a low level of humanity"; Jews "are true humanity from its authentic roots," whereas the other nations are "all on the level of Man in his fallen state" -- and therefore "are treated as ones belonging to completely different genera."
One who reads the words of the Ramchal will notice how precisely he chose them and how accurately they represent the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, "You are called men." But not only him…
E. Rabbi Abraham Issac HaCohen Kook
In the book "Orot," Orot Yisrael chapter 5, article 10 (page 156), Rabbi Kook wrote: "The difference between the Jewish soul, in all its independence, inner desires, longings, character and standing, and the soul of all the Gentiles, on all of their levels, is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a man and the soul of an animal, for the difference in the latter case is one of quantity, while the difference in the first case is one of essential quality."
F. Rabbi Charlap
In the book "Mei Marom" on Tractate Avot, Rabbi Charlap wrote on the aforementioned mishnah (page 174): "And it is well known that the argument of the nations is that they will say, ’Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths’ (Isaiah 2)…from this aspect they also possess the level of ’man’ -- however, this aspect is not theirs. It is only latent and concealed within them through by virtue of the Jews, and this virtue is called ’man.’ This is what is meant by ’beloved is man who was created in [G-d’s] image.’ However, a greater love spreads upon Israel, for upon them appears the light of G-d’s image in all its holy shining…Therefore only Israel cling to the Living G-d, ’And you who cling to the Lord your G-d are all living today’ -- you, the Jews, and not the nations of the world…"
G. Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin
In the book "Poked Akarim" page 19, column 3, he wrote: "Concerning what is explained in Yevamot, ’You are called men,’ and not the other nations, [the meaning is] that the Gentiles were deprived of the title ’men’ only where Israel were called ’men,’ because in comparison to Israel, who are the primary form of man in the Divine Chariot, it is irrelevant to call any of the Gentiles ’men’; at most, they are like animals in the form of men. Taken as themselves, however, all the children of Noah are considered men…and when the Messiah comes…they too will recognize and admit that there are none called ’man’ except Israel…anyway, in comparison to Israel even now they are in the category of animals…"
In "Pri Tzadik" part 1, page 30, column 3, he wrote: "…before the Giving of the Torah, the souls of the nations and of Israel were all at one level, for good and evil and the filth of the snake were all combined. When Israel received the Torah and were chosen to be a special nation, the filth ceased to exist in them and consequently, the roots of their souls were separated [from those of the Gentiles]…And all the good was rooted and set aside for the souls of Israel, and all the evil found root in the souls of the other nations, for they all are part of the evil and Satan’s camp…"
He wrote similarly in "Pri Tzadik," part 5, page 76, column 2: "…for the nations, whose inner essence lacks any root of holiness, can easily be caused to falter…which is not the case concerning the holiness of Israel, who in their inner roots are clinging to G-d…"
In "Takanat HaShavin," page 31, column 1 he wrote: "… for the source of the souls of Israel is from a different chamber than the souls of the other nations…and this soul has no connection whatsoever with the soul of the nations. Therefore, even if one converted to idolatry he is still considered a Jew with regards to the laws of marriage and divorce…"
H. The Arizal and Rabbi Chaim Vital
On the difference between souls of the Jews and Gentiles it is written in the book "Etz Chaim" (Heichal Abi’a, Sha’ar HaKlipot, chapter 2):
"So we find that Israel possesses the three levels of soul (nefesh, ruach, neshama) from holiness… The Gentiles, however, possess only the level of nefesh from the feminine side of the klipot…for the souls of the nations, which come from the klipot, are called ’evil’ and not ’good,’ are created without the da’at [knowledge], and therefore they also lack the ruach and neshama." (And in the continuation there: "This is also the secret of what Chazal said: ’It is forbidden to have mercy on one who lacks da’at,’’ for one who lacks da’at comes from the klipot lacking da’at, and therefore one who has mercy on him causes the spreading of the supreme mercy to the klipot as well…" According to this it is possible to understand the Gemara which I mentioned above regarding the lost item of a Gentile (Sanhedrin 76b): "…one who returns a lost item to a Gentile, of him the verse says: ’To add drunkenness to thirst; the Lord will not spare him’.")
In Sha’ar Klipat Noga, chapter 3, it is written: "Now you will understand what the animalistic soul of man is; it is the good and evil inclination in man. The soul of the Gentiles comes from the three klipot: wind, cloud, and fire, all of them evil. So is the case with impure animals, beasts, and birds. However, the animalistic soul of Israel and the animalistic soul of pure animals, beasts, and birds all come from [klipat] noga."
In "Midrash Shmuel" on Tractate Avot (written by Rabbi Shmuel Di Osida OBM -- one of the Kabbalists from Safad, who learned Kabbalah from the Arizal) on the aforementioned mishnah it is explained as follows:
Afterwards, I asked the magnificent and G-dly sage Rabbi Chaim of Vital to explain…if the sons of Noah are included in ’beloved is man who was created in [G-d’s] image’ or not. He answered that definitely the wicked [perhaps this is a distortion of the censor and it should state ’the Gentiles’] are not included in this statement, and the reason the term ’man’ was used is because it is a more important title than ’Israel’…additionally, the quarry from which the soul of Adam was taken is higher than that of Jacob our forefather…and since Adam was created in G-d’s image so all men follow him, that is to say, the holy and pure amongst them and the entire Jewish nation. Regarding the reason why the mishnah brings an argument from the verse ’For in G-d’s image He made man,’ which seemingly alludes to the Seven Commandments of the sons of Noah, he answered that it would have been sufficient for the verse to have said, ’Whoever sheds a man’s blood, his own blood shall be shed,’ so why is it written ’man’s’?… It comes to tell us the reason why G-d decreed that one Gentile who kills another is punishable by death, for in reality who cares if a Gentile is killed, and punishment by payment would have been sufficient. Perhaps, however, a righteous man is destined to come out of his lineage…therefore G-d was stringent concerning the killing of a Gentile for, in effect, one who kills a Gentile is actually killing that potential righteous man, and therefore it is written ’Whoever sheds a man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed,’ he spills the blood of that potential righteous person…and because of this aspect of holiness within a Gentile he is called ’man,’ for if not, behold it is stated ’you are called men,’ etc…
I further asked him whether from every Gentile righteous people are destined to emanate. If only there were one righteous Gentile from a city and two from a family!…yet ’his blood shall be shed’ is part of a general verdict…He answered that a Gentile who murders is put to death only if there are witnesses, as the Targum Onkelos there translated the word b’sahadia [according to the witnesses], and if there aren’t witnesses, he is exempt. Therefore G-d, Who knows the future, arranges that there would be no witnesses to the killing of a Gentile who does not have the potential of producing a righteous person from his lineage…
I. The Tanya
In the Tanya chapter 1 (page 5b) it is written: "The explanation of this matter is according to what the Rabbi Chaim Vital OBM wrote…that every Jew, whether he is righteous or wicked, has two souls, as it says, ’And the souls I have made’ -- that is, two souls: one soul from the side of the klipa and Satan’s camp… also naturally good character traits that are found in every Jew, such as mercifulness and charitable deeds, stem from it, for in the Jew, the soul of this klipa comes from klipat noga which also contains good…But it is not the case concerning Gentile souls, for they stem from other impure klipot which contain no good…and the second soul of the Jew is surely part of G-d on high…"
In the end of chapter 6 it is written: "The klipot are divided into two levels…the lower level consists of three impure and completely evil klipot which contain no good whatsoever…from there the souls of the Gentiles are influenced and drawn, as are the bodies and the souls of all impure animals which are forbidden to eat…However, the vital animalistic soul in the Jews, which stems from the klipa…and the souls of pure animals, beasts, birds, and fish which are permitted to eat…are influenced and drawn from the second level of the klipot…which is called klipat noga…and the majority of it is evil, combined with a slight amount of good…"
It is evident that what Ra’avad, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, the Maharal, the Ramchal, Rav Kook, Rav Charlap, and Rav Tzadok wrote in the language of the Revealed Teaching, each in his own style, has been said by the Ari, Rabbi Chaim Vital, the "Midrash Shmuel," and the Tanya in the language of the Secret Teaching -- and the intention is the same.
J. The "Tosephot Yom Tov"
We have found, however, slight differences in the "Tosephot Yom Tov" commentary on the aforementioned mishnah: "’Beloved is man for he is created in [G-d’s] image’… Rabbi Akiva spoke of all men…and Rabbi Akiva’s intention was all men including the Gentiles. Maimonides stated explicitly in chapter 8 of The Laws of Kings (halacha 10): ’Moses our teacher was commanded by the Mighty One to force the Gentiles to accept the commandments of the sons of Noah…Anyone who accepts the Seven Commandments and is careful to fulfill them is considered a righteous Gentile and receives a portion in the World to Come. This depends upon him accepting and fulfilling them because G-d had so commanded in the Torah…’ And for Rabbi Akiva came to communicate to the entire world what we have been commanded by Moses our teacher as Maimonides stated…And it is appropriate to say that they were created ’in an Image’ -- however, [the mishnah] did not mention whose image it is -- namely "G-d’s" -- as it is mentioned in the verse. These are also is words of rebuke, to reprove and inform them that they are created in an image -- but in what type of image? In the image of G-d…however, since they do not fulfill His commandments, and even if they do, it is not out of a knowledge that G-d commanded them -- behold, they are lacking the designation of G-d’s image…"
K. The "Tif’eret Yisrael"
On the aforementioned mishnah he wrote: "…since the mishnah ends with the words ’Beloved are Israel,’ we understand that the beginning is speaking about all mankind, that is to say, even Gentiles. Another consideration is that the Tanna derives his statement from the verse ’[G-d] made man’ which includes Gentiles, too, for this was said to the sons of Noah…from this we understand that the Gentiles also possess G-d’s image of G-d…"
And in his commentary on this mishnah in "Boaz," he interpreted the saying "You are called men" in a very surprising fashion:
…therefore, Israel and the other nations each have their own unique levels. The advantage the nations have over Israel is that they have actually made themselves through their own free will and their own might, and this is certainly an advantage over Israel who were completed only through Heavenly intervention…that G-d did wonders to complete them…Nevertheless, Israel also possess a unique level, for the Gentiles have reached their levels only through their own human intellect. Therefore, there are many commandments in the Torah which are above and beyond the human intellect, as are all the decrees [chukim, that is, laws which have no rationale behind them] of the Torah. The Gentiles do not observe these commandments, since they do not understand them…. Therefore, any of them who is ignorant…is still wallowing in the abominable filth of the earlier generations, as the majority of the inhabitants of Africa do…
Correspondingly, the completion of the level of Israel is similar to that of Adam, for all people are created without knowledge at birth, and with time and learning the intellect develops…but this was not true in the case of Adam, who was created at his full height and stature…with knowledge and intellect, and the realization of all his responsibilities. Therefore he was judged similarly to Israel in that he too was the handiwork of G-d, as Israel were…
Therefore, every place in the Torah where it says ’man,’ the sole intention is Israel…for the term ’man’ is not fit for them [the nations], for they gained their status only through difficult efforts and do not resemble Adam at all. However, every place where it is written ’the sons of man’ includes the Gentiles also.… In conclusion, therefore, the fact that only Jews are called ’man’ is not particularly praise for them, it only testifies that not they themselves peeled the thick layer from over their closed hearts, but rather it was the result of their being G-d’s handiwork.
The approach presented here is, undoubtedly, entirely different from what we have previously seen. (Attention should be paid to the large differences between the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and "Tosephot Yom Tov").
L. Rabbi Tzvi Chiut
Rabbi Tzvi Chiut has an opinion similar to that of the "Tif’eret Yisrael." Thus he wrote in his novellae on Yevamot 61a (printed at the end of the Vilna edition of that tractate): "Incidentally, the intention of Chazal here is not to exclude the other nations from the term ’man,’ but rather to explain that wherever the word ’man’ is used on its own in the Torah or Holy Writ, the intention is only the Jews, as in the religious literature and customs of any particular nation wherever it is stated ’All men are warned or obligated to do such and such,’ the intention is only to those to whom it pertains. Similarly in the Torah and in the Prophets, wherever the term ’man’ is used on its own, it pertains only to the Jews, for it is only they who are addressed, with the obvious exception of prophecies explicitly directed to the other nations; and the matter is simple."
M. The Zohar
The opinion of the Zohar on this subject is crystal-clear, unlike the words of the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut. In "Raya Mehemna" on the portion of Pinchas, page 238b it is written: "’And G-d said: let us make man’…that is, ’let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness,’ and the rabbis established that there is no ’man’ except for the Jews, as it states: ’But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, you are men’ -- You are men and not the other nations, and because of this ’let Israel rejoice in Him who made them’." (All citations from the Zohar are according to the version in which the commentary "Or Yakar" by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero appears, printed according to a manuscript 400 years old (excluding parts that have yet to be published in this edition). Rabbi Eliyahu Di Vidas OBM, a student of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, wrote in the end of his introduction to the well known book of the Ramak, "Reshit Chochma": "In most passages of the Zohar one may find many differences between the printed edition and ours. However, our version was proofread according to the hand-written manuscripts here in Safad, which are highly accurate.")
On the portion of Yitro (page 86a) it is written: "Rabbi Shimon taught: Israel merited that G-d called them ’men,’ as it is written ’But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, you are men,’ ’If any man of you brings an offering.’ Why are they called ’men’? For it is written ’And you who cling to the Lord your G-d’ -- you and not the other nations, and because of this ’you are men’ -- you are called men…" And the Ramak OBM wrote on this in his commentary "Or Yakar" (volume 8, page 214): "…G-d testified for the Jews that they cling to the secret of nobility and the supreme form which is called ’man,’ as it is said, "If any man of you bring an offering," which shows that you [the Jews] are ’men’ and the nations are not ’men,’ and this explanation is necessarily derived from the verse, ’But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, you are men,’ the explanation of which apparently is: you are called ’men’ and not the nations of the world. From there we learn what ’if any man of you bring an offering’ means -- and this is what these two verses teach us. So he testified that this level cannot be achieved by any human being except the Jews alone…"
On the portion of Bereishit (page 20b) the Zohar says:
These lights sketch the lower figure to fix the figure of all those who are included in the term "man," an inner figure -- [which is called the "face of man" -- the Sulam commentary]. For all figures are called "men," and all figures which are included in this expansion are called "men," as the verse says "you are men," you are called "men." You and all the spirits are called "men." [For all inner figures are thus called -- "the face of man"… for all figures included in this expansion…are called by the name ’men"…and this is what is written "You are ’men"…the souls are also called by the name "men," as they interpret the verse, "You are called men"… and all the spirits are also called by the name "men," that is to say, only an aspect of the light of the spirit, whose dress is the body, is called by this name, "men" -- the Sulam.] The spirit of the holy side, his body is only a dress of the ’man,’ and this is what is written, "You dressed me in skin and flesh, and covered me with bones and sinews"…The flesh is only the dress of "man," as is written, "flesh of man" -- the "man" is inside, and the flesh is only the dressing of the "man" -- his body. The lower aspects, which were blended from this spirit [the "face of man" -- the Sulam], became an essence from which figures were sketched -- figures which were covered by different dresses [and not by the dress of "man" -- the Sulam], that is, the figures of pure animals: "The bovine, the sheep and the goat; The gazelle, the deer and the fallow deer; and the ibex and the addax; and the wild ox and the wild sheep" -- and these could be covered by the dress of the "man" [the "face of man" -- the Sulam], that is, by the body of the "man."
The Ramak wrote in his commentary "Or Yakar," (volume 2, page 31): "’His body is only a dress of the "man," etc.’ -- this means that although one may find that the bodily features of the Gentiles and the Jews are the same, the meaning of the word ’man’ is not the body. For were it so, their saying "’You are called man’ would not be just. But rather the body is only a dress of what is within him -- namely the spirit, and the body is only a dress for the spirit, that is the ’flesh of man’: ’man’ -- the spirit, ’flesh of man’ -- the garment of man. And for this reason the Jews, who are holy, are called ’men.’ ’The lower aspects, which were blended, etc.’, they are holy and not impure, but not at the level of man; however they are blended from the holy spirit, which expands increasingly, and reaches the final levels of holiness…"
In continuation of the Zohar there it is written:
…in a similar fashion [as it is with the holy spirit of "man" and pure animals -- the Sulam] it is concerning Satan’s camp, which is impure. The spirit which spreads to the other nations stems from the impure side, and is not the aspect of "man" -- and therefore it is not called by this name and does not have a share in it. [As was mentioned previously, "You are called men, etc. " -- the Sulam]… Its body is the dress of "impure" [the spirit whose name is "impure," and it is not called by the name "man" and has no share in it -- the Sulam], the impure flesh in which the impure spirit is dressed… The lower aspects, which were blended from this spirit, became an essence from which figures were sketched -- figures, which were covered by different dresses, that is, the figures of impure animals, and the Torah started describing them with the words, "And these are impure for you" -- such as the pig, birds, and animals of Satan’s camp. The spirit which permeates them is called impure, and their bodies are the dress of that spirit, therefore it says, "flesh of pig" -- pig is it inside, and the flesh is only the dressing of the "pig."
Therefore these two sides separated one from another: one is included in the secret of "man" ["the face of man," -- the Sulam], and the other is included in the secret of "impure." And every genus takes the side of the genera similar to it, and clings to them. [That is, the spirit of "man" represents the general aspect of the side of holiness, and the spirits of pure animals, beasts, and birds represent its particular aspects, derived from the general one. On the other hand, the spirit of a "wicked man" represents the general aspect of the impure (side), and the spirits of the impure animals, beasts, and birds represent particular aspects derived from it. These are two opposite orders. Animals of every species are attracted to their specific species, without mixing with the opposite side; even if they did mix at one point, finally they will return to their species -- the ’Sulam’.]
These are the the Zohar’s words.
Behold, before us lies the inner, deep explanation of the words of Rashbi, "You are called men," and also an exalted and faithful source for the aforementioned words of Rabbi Chaim Vital and the Tanya.
Furthermore, in the portion of Bereishit (page 47a) on the verse "Let the waters teem with swarms of creatures that have a living soul" the Zohar writes: "Rabbi Aba said: the verse ’creatures that have a living soul,’ pertains to the Jews, for they are the sons of G-d, and from Him come their holy souls… And the souls of the other nations, where do they come from? Rabbi Elazar said: they have souls from the impure left side, and therefore they are all impure, defiling anyone who comes near them."
In the continuation there it is written: Rabbi Elazar said: it supports what we said above, ’that have a living soul’ -- these are the Jews, for they have the high and holy living soul. And the verse, ’Animals, creeping things, and beasts of the earth, each to its kind,’ refers to the Gentiles, for they have no living soul, but only the prepuce, as we said above [that they stem from powers of the left side which defile them -- the Sulam]."
In the end of the portion of Vayikra (page 25b) the Zohar says: "Come and see the difference between Israel and the rest of the nations. Even though a man from Israel merited only a nefesh, he remains on his level; [and the higher levels are also open before him -- the Sulam] if he wants to merit ruach or if he wants to merit a neshamah… [in the printed editions it is added: ’he can obtain and merit it’ and thus also explains the Sulam]. The Gentiles, however, can never obtain more [than their impure nefesh, -- the Sulam] except if one of them is circumcised, for then he merits ’nefesh for nefesh’ -- a nefesh from a different source [from the holy side-- the Sulam]. In ’Or Yakar’ (volume 12, page 100) it is explained: "Can never obtain more; even the righteous Gentiles do not merit holiness, except only from superficial levels…"
The Zohar’s words are very clear, and most definitely cannot conform to the words of the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut.
We have seen two opinions concerning the question of whether or not the Gentiles possess G-d’s image and the interpretation of the saying "You are called men.":
1. The Ra’avad and the Kuzari, the Maharal and the Ramchal, Rav Kook and Rav Charlap, the Ari and the Ramak, Rav Chaim Vital, the Tanya, Rav Tzadok HaCohen and the Midrash Shmuel all stated in the same manner -- the Gentiles are considered similar to beasts, lacking the complete G-dly image, and [the grounds for] their words are explicated in countless places in the Zohar. (The quotes from the Zohar previously brought are just a few examples of statements which appear throughout the Zohar and Tikunim).
2. In contrast, we have seen the opinions of the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut (who apparently never saw the words of the Zohar and the aforementioned great Torah scholars) that the Gentiles are also considered "men" and also possess G-d’s image. (It must be pointed out that in the aforementioned booklet, "Chaviv Adam Shenivra B’tzelem" by Yochanan Ben-Ya’akov, Director-General of B’nei Akiva, the author, dealing with the aforementioned mishnah in Avot (beginning on page 5 in the booklet), quotes only the commentary of the "Tif’eret Yisrael." He similarly treated the statement of Rashbi , "you are called men" (page 13 in the booklet). Mr. Ben-Yaakov knew well to quote Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz on this subject, and even went as far as to quote the heretical words of Dr. Yehezkel Cohen, which one is forbidden to bring into the beit midrash. But the words of the majority of Torah scholars, both quantitatively and qualitatively, he apparently never heard. These two points exemplify how little effort the author made to deeply understand the subjects he dealt with; instead he merely wrote things that fitted his own outlook.)
If we had to choose between the two opinions, undoubtedly the weight of the Zohar and the giants of Kabbalistic wisdom and Jewish thought is beyond any comparison greater than of the ’Tiferet Yisrael’ and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut. Moreover, even the Halachic sources presented in this essay, express a view totally different from that of these two Torah scholars. How, for example, would they consider the words of Midrash HaGadol concerning pouring of the anointing oil: "…if it was poured on an animal or utensils, or on Gentiles who are like animals…?" Or the words of the Tosephta in the beginning of Chulin: "…an animal slaughtered by a Gentile is unfit, and an animal slaughtered by a monkey is unfit…?" Or the words of the Talmud in Bava Kama 49a, that a pregnant maidservant is like a "pregnant ass"? Or the statement of Rav Shila in Berachot 58a: "Are they not called asses"? Furthermore, in the words of the prophet Ezekiel the son of Buzi the Gentiles are also likened to animals.
Additionally, all those Halachic laws that we mentioned, like the ones concerning murder of a Gentile or saving of his life, causing damage to his property and returning his lost item, seem unjust and incomprehensible according to approach of these two scholars. If a Gentile also possess G-d’s image, why isn’t a Jew who murders him for not just reason put to death, as it is written (Genesis 9:6), "Whoever sheds a man’s blood, through man shall his blood be shed, for in G-d’s image he made the man"? According to the words of the prophet, the sayings of Chazal and almost all of the great Torah scholars, that the Gentiles in truth are not called "men" it is understood; only one who murders a "man" in the full sense of the word is put to death by a Beit Din. However, according to the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut, if Gentiles are also "men," what is there to say? (And indeed, the holders of this outlook recognize this difficulty and therefore they had to appeal to strange dialectics. Rabbi A.A. Kaplan found himself in a difficult position concerning this subject and presented the answer that while the prohibition of killing a Gentile has the same severity as that of killing a Jew, the Beit Din may pass a death sentence only in a case where the soul of the one being put to death is equal to the soul of the murdered, and since the soul of a Jew is higher then that of a Gentile, he is not put to death. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein also adopted this idea (a synopsis of his lecture is brought in the aforementioned booklet, page 72). However, they forgot an explicit mishnah in Bava Kama, 4:6, and an explicit Gemara, ibid. 41a, that an ox which kills a man is punished by death, yet if he kills a Gentile, he is acquitted. According to their explanation, why isn’t the ox killed?) (In an attempt to rationalize and understand how they could have written words so far removed from the words of Chazal, it can be said that the "Tif’eret Yisrael" and Rabbi Tzvi Chiut wrote what they wrote words in the atmosphere of blood libels and pogroms against the Jews. They saw fit, therefore, to explain the matters in a way that would put the minds of the slanderers and censurers at rest. The truth, in any case, remains the same.)
Another example -- how can one explain the fact that there were Tanna’im who held that it is permitted to steal from and rob a Gentile according to the Torah’s law? What place is there for such an opinion if indeed G-d’s image is present in Gentiles? How can stealing from another person be permitted? However, according to the view that G-d’s image is present in Gentiles only in an insignificant measure, and that their souls come from an impure source similar to that of unclean animals, the difficulty disappears -- just as there is no prohibition against stealing from an animal, so too is it permitted to steal from a Gentile, for the difference is merely quantitative and not qualitative, as is explained in the aforementioned words of Rav Kook. While the view which maintains that stealing from a Gentile is prohibited by the Torah -- the view which Halacha follows -- is based on the consideration that the difference existing between Gentiles and the beasts is sufficient to prohibit stealing from Gentiles. (Here, too, Rabbi Lichtenstein is mistaken. In the synopsis of his lecture, which was mentioned in the previous footnote, he wrote (page 73 of the booklet): "If we are speaking of injury, robbery, fraud, or the like, things which can be reproached according to any universal standard we might use -- behold, they must be prohibited also in regards to the Gentile." According to what we have clarified above regarding robbery of a Gentile, the approach of the Jerusalem Talmud, the Tosephta in Avodah Zarah and the Sifri on the portion of V’zot HaBracha is that robbery of a Gentile is permitted by the Torah. This is also the opinion of some Rishonim and Achronim, and there seems to be no reason as compelling as Rabbi Lichtenstein thinks. True, Halacha states that robbery of a Gentile is forbidden by the Torah, but a clear-cut and simple view of the kind of ’there is no need to say…’ does not exist here.)
From all that mentioned above it is clear that views presented by certain personalities, including [former] Knesset member Professor A. Shaki, Rabbi Lichtenstein and Rabbi Amital, and Mr. Yochanan Ben-Ya’akov, do not represent the truth of the Torah. Simple and clear Halachic laws, whose foundations are in the words of the Living G-d, clearly state the difference "between the two bloods" (in the words of Ms. Huberman) -- between Jew and Gentile.
There is no escaping the facts: the Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is defined as "man," and a Gentile defined as animal. This distinction is expressed in a long list of Halachic laws, be they monetary laws, the laws of the Temple, capital laws or others. Even one who is not an erudite Torah scholar is obligated to recognize this simple fact; it cannot be erased or obscured.
It is clear to every Jew who accepts the Torah as G-d’s word from Sinai, obligatory and valid for all generations, that it is impossible to introduce "compromises" or "renovations" into it. Any attempt to bypass or ignore certain things will not succeed. Perhaps one may view the aforementioned Halachic laws as an expression of racism; another may see in them baseless hate towards any Gentile. However, for the Jew who is devoted to the Torah as it is, this is the reality and the living path which has been set for the Jewish nation by the word of G-d.
One who carefully studies the sources cited previously will realize the abysmal difference between the concepts "Jew" and "Gentile" -- and consequently, he will understand why Halachah differentiates between them.
The Torah of Israel is a set of instructions for life, and about those who cling to it as it is, the verse says: "And you who cling to the Lord your G-d, you are all living today."
In conclusion, there is nothing more appropriate and fitting than the words of Rav Kook in "Orot" (Orot Yisrael 8, paragraph 5, page 169): "The expansiveness of heart which occasionally attempts to consume the entire world, all humanity, into the special love which spreads over Israel, calls for examination. When the recognition of the special, holy excellence of Israel endures in its distinction, and through this clarification, love and affection spreads with good cheer to every nation and person as one, this is the character trait of Abraham our forefather, the father of many nations, [of whom it is said,] ’And in you shall all of the families of the earth be blessed -- and in your seed.’ Sometimes, though, the foundation of this expansion of affection stems from a dullness of emotions and a dimming of the holy light of recognition of the supreme Jewish uniqueness, and then it is poisonous, and the content of its activation is full of awesome destruction, from which one must distance himself as he would from an ox which has been proven dangerous, [as it is said,] ’And the gate is battered to ruins,’ ’I myself have seen it gore as an ox’."
How could I understand those statement without compromise my trust in the Sages in the Rabbis in the writings in the Judaism? Must I negate my reason, blind my mind, ignore those evidently wrong thoughts and act as if I did not know them?
Sincerelly: Alberto Bentzion Rodrigues