For about 25 years I have been looking for a rabbi who is capable to help me in search for God’s reason for the creation of humans in general and Jewish humans in particular. I didn’t find such a rabbi, began my own search in the Torah and began sharing my discoveries with others in many publications and forums including the posts here in the TOI. I am not alone in my inability to find a rabbi for such search – the majority of contemporary Jews are trying to find the reason for their existence without rabbis.
Two recent publications of two unquestionably reputable rabbis here in the TOI are a good illustration of this problem. The publications are
- “Who will be our rabbis?” by rabbi Adin Steinsaltz at
- “Rejecting the rabbi as spiritual sissy” by rabbi Shmuley Boteach at
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes:
“What, then, is a true Jewish leader? The Torah (Numbers 1:15) calls the leaders “the heads of the thousands of Israel.” This defines their essence. The Torah is thus telling us that a true leader is like a head. The head is the part of the body that knows what is happening in all of the other organs, and feels the pain of each and every one of them. Similarly, the leader is supposed to sense the problems and feel the pains of everyone.”
“Every Jew is an organ in the national body, and every Jew – even one who is like the little finger on the left hand – wants to know that s/he is connected by nerves, flesh and blood to its head.”
And this statement by rabbi Steinsaltz illuminates the problem and helps understand why I have not been able to find a rabbi I was looking for. It looks like rabbi Steinsaltz considers all of us who are not rabbis to be “nerves, flesh and blood” of rabbis’ heads. And that is an intellectual slavery by definition. No doubt, rabbi Steinsaltz knows the key story of the Torah – the exodus of Jews from Egypt from slavery to freedom. Why then he is trying to enslave me – intellectually – again? Why he is transforming a rabbis’ mission from being a teacher and researcher of God’s guidance into a mission of a spiritual authoritarian?
Unfortunately, the rabbis whom I met were of rabbi Steinsaltz’s mind-set and treated me just as “nerves, flesh and blood” of their own heads.
Rabbi Steinsaltz, and a great majority of other rabbis, wants me to be made in the image and likeness of my rabbi. However, God made me in His own image and likeness, and I am searching for my own individual meaning of this “image and likeness” – and I am searching for a rabbi who is capable to help me in this search.
The rabbi’s characteristics suggested by rabbi Shmuley Boteach are much closer to what I am looking for. Indeed, rabbi Shmuley Boteach says:
“A rabbi is a man on a mission. His purpose: to rebuild Jewish life. To establish schools, mikvahs, adult education classes, debates, seminars, weekend retreats, and stimulating communal events. He is not empathizer-in-chief but programmer in chief.”
It’s true, as both Socrates and the Zohar state, that a truly wise person knows how much he doesn’t know. That being said, we are not free to shirk our responsibilities to fix problems in the world. Neither Socrates nor the great Kabbalistic text implied that in our ignorance we could absolve ourselves of the responsibility of offering guidance where it was warranted. It just means that such advice has to always be offered with humility and a keen awareness of our own limitations.
“Because if Judaism cannot demonstrate that it has real-world guidance on how to have passionate marriages, raise moral and inspired children, overcome deadening materialism, and countless other real-life matters, then it has no shot at survival. Aside from a small band of the orthodox, it will die.
People in the West want guidance to overcome emptiness and lust for money that has come to define Western culture. They want more than investing in stocks and bonds. It’s why thousands of Americans still decide to go to college and study humanities and not business. Even in a world where Wall Street, in your first year, will pay you a million bucks, students study history, art, philosophy, and language. Many of them look to religious leadership and religious texts to find that same inspiration but walk away empty and frustrated.”
A rabbi with such understanding of his mission would be capable to help me in searching for God’s reason in creating us the humans and us the Jews among the humans. In particular, I am looking for rabbi’s thoughts on the following.
- God created us the humans not for worshiping Him – He doesn’t need our worshiping that acknowledges His all-mightiness. In the Torah, God is the Creator and He created all humans in His image and likeness – therefore He created us the humans to be creators and to continue His creative work that began by the Six Days of Creation.
- Worshiping of God (the religion) is needed for us as a spiritual, “analytical” tool for researching of “what and how” we the humans have to create. We have to do perpetual worshiping since it is impossible to create a “frozen forever” set of “what and how” and stop worshiping. It is impossible since God created our world as permanently changing along the lines of His laws of nature: when the world is changing we have to adjust our “what and how”, and we are adjusting it with the help of worshiping.
- The creative work can be truly creative only if it is competitive – therefore the competitiveness among the humans in spiritual and material spheres has to be encouraged, and that is the essence of Free Will which is given by God to us the humans. The various spiritual streams in Judaism are competing with each other and no one should claim its superiority in the knowledge of “what and how” – each of them are researching the “what and how” in their own unique competitive way.
- The competitiveness has to be peaceful and the chief goal of rabbis in Jewish communities is to help their followers develop peaceful individual “what and how” in all spheres of life – in families, in social and political institutions, in economic and technological enterprises, in arts and sciences … And that is the way of creating “common good” for everybody – the Jews and the non-Jews.
- The Torah is God’s spiritual guidance for establishing moral codes of behavior that promote and encourage the competitive creative work. This guidance is given by God to all humans through the Jewish people as the Chosen with the mission of the Chosen to help the others in creating their own Torah-based moral codes tailored to different, non-Jewish traditions. The Christianity was initiated by the Jews as a Torah-based code of behavior for non-Jews and therefore should be considered a Jewish success in introducing the Torah-based guidance into non-Jewish communities in competitive search for the God’s “what and how”.
- Obviously, the non-Jewish communities prefer their own way of searching for the God’s truth. Therefore, they naturally resist the influence of the Chosen, and that is at the root of anti-Semitism. Thus the anti-Semitism is a sort of indication that the Chosen are fulfilling the God-given mission; the absence of anti-Semitism may mean that the Jews have stopped fulfilling their Chosen mission.
- In order to prevent a “natural” anti-Semitism from becoming an “unnatural” one (like pogroms and holocausts) the rabbis have to encourage the establishment of interfaith dialog, first of all with the Christians, for clarification of the God-given mission of the Chosen that is the creation of “the common good” (making our world a better place for everybody) – not to be above the others. We the Jews should not be afraid of such dialog. There are many good Christians who appreciate the creative work of the Jewish people as the Chosen. Below are some examples.
|Pope Francis:The Church recognizes that the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses and prophets … due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic … St. Paul firmly condemned hatred, persecution and all forms of anti-Semitism … the gifts and call of God irrevocable.
I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations… They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews.
Winston S. Churchill:
Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
John F. Kennedy:
Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe:
Energy is the basis of everything. Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal… It is the most perpetual people of the earth…
What is the Jew?…What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew – is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.
The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese–and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.
…If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. … The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
Vladimir Minkov: And the answer to the Mark Twain’s question is: the secret of Jewish immortality is their eternal God-given mission of the Chosen.