Saturday, July 07, 2007
RETURNING TO RABBI ADIN STEINSALTZ'S COMMENTARY ON THE TANYA
I began posting quotes from Steinsaltz's book yesterday. Now I'd like to add more quotes.
The Jews are called the "Chosen People". That is Scriptural. In 1 Kings 3:8 the newly chosen King David speaks to God: "I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted." Today the issue of whether the Jews are still the Chosen People repeatedly surfaces in conjunction with the possibility of a dual covenant which provides a way to heaven that does not depend upon Jesus Christ. Some say yes. Some say no. In any case, the Jews still view themselves as God's Chosen People according to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Picking up where I left off yesterday, Steinsaltz continues with his theme that the Jews are by nature compassionate, bashful, and charitable:
Obviously, a non-Jew can also be charitable, compassionate, or bashful; in a non-Jew, however, these are not natural traits but traits that must be acquired and cultivated through education and training, just as the Jew must cultivate many positive traits (humility, joy in serving God, and so on) that are not natural to him, for they are not part of his biological self and must be acquired through education and hard work and often only by vanquishing his natural instincts. ...kelipah, devoid of all manifest holiness, all the good that the non-Jew does derives from egocentric considerations, be it to the aim of priding oneself with one's good deeds or the aim of achieving peace and harmony in the world that the "I" inhabits. It does not turn toward the other; rather [here Steinsaltz quotes the Tanya - ct]all the good that the nations do, is done from selfish motives. As the Talmud comments on the verse, "The kindness of the nations is sin": "All the charity and kindness done by the nations of the world is only for their own self-glorification" and so on. [end of quotes from the Tanya - ct]
Thus, the "the [sic] good characteristics that are to be found in the innate nature of every Jew" form part of the natural dynamic that defines the relationship between matter and spirit in every living creature. In the Jew, this dynamic might be more sophisticated and possessive of a higher consciousness, but it is essentially similar to that of every other natural soul....
Because the natural soul of the non-Jew is wholly
The author is not coming, with these brief sentences, to define the nature of the non-Jew. Whatever he says here about non-Jews is just the background for the issue with which he is dealing--namely, the uniqueness of the natural animal soul of the Jew. For when we say that the Jew is chosen and unique among the peoples of the world, it is in regard to his animal soul and not regarding the Jew's "Godly soul"...which the non-Jew does not possess at all. (p. 67-68)
When Stainsaltz says the non-Jew does not possess a Godly soul, he is referring to Christians along with the adherents of other religions. He means anyone who is not racially and religiously Jewish. That is a perspective of chosenness from the inside, so to speak. A belief that the Jews are, by their very human nature, a superior people. As Steinsalts puts it:
The process of Israel's becoming a chosen people is described in the book of Genesis not unlike the process of genetic selection in the breeding of plants....This is the story told in the book of Genesis: from millions of human beings, God chooses one seedling; from the progeny of this seedling, He again selects one branch, one individual, whom He carefully cultivates into a new breed of human being.(p. 68 - 69)
As you read those quotes, keep in mind that Adin Steinsaltz is President of the newly formed Sanhedrin, the court which will preside over the Noahide Laws...Laws which are meant to apply to non-Jews, and which will forbid idolatry under pain of beheading...courts which will consider a belief in the Trinity to be idolatrous. Also keep in mind that Judaism is not monolithic as it exists at the present time.