I once attended a class with a rabbi in New York who once spoke about how every person, and every ethnic group on the planet has a destiny. For a Jew this means that we are not the only people on the planet who have a divine mission. Needless to say we do have a mission, to know and walk according to the will of God. Never to bow down in our faith, and to be an example i.e. a light to the nations.
Once when I was speaking at a High School about Judaism to a class who was reading a book called the Color of Water, a student asked me, "How do Jews spread Judaism to the world?" This was an interesting question for me to answer since the class was made up mostly of Christians, and a few Muslims. My response to her was:
"In Judaism we don't have a commandment to spread Judaism to the world. There is no requirement for Jews to make more Jews, and there is no concept that the entire must become Jewish. It is not our job to make the world believe that the One we worship is The One and only God, blessed is He, whose name is יהוה. It is only our job to be an example, and to live our lives based on the Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible)."
Note: Of course I didn't pronounce God's Name, just visually trying to make a point in differences between Judaism and other religions.
Often major world religions are pictured with the concept of vying for new converts under the belief that the world will become a better place once the world accepts their theology. If one wants to receive some form of afterlife then one must subscribe to their theology to be safe. In Judaism we don't exactly see it that way. In our faith there are two tracts that lead to God in the exact same way.
Path #1 is as a Benei Yisrael (Descendant of Jacob) or a Jew. A Jew is anyone who comes from an accepted ancestry from either descendants of Jacob of Geirim (non-Jews who live amongst Jews and accept the commandments of God like Jews). A person who "converts" is the same as a Jew, just without the ancestry, yet they have the same rights as anyone born Jewish.
Path #2 is that of a Ben-Nochri/Benei Noach. These are non-Israelite or non-Jewish people who have accepted The God mentioned in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and who live a life based on 7 things.
- Do not murder.
- Do not steal.
- Do not worship false gods.
- Do not be sexually immoral.
- Do not eat a limb removed from a live animal.
- Do not curse God.
- Set up courts and bring offenders to justice.
Rabbi Moshe Maimon aka Rambam (1135 to 1204) explains that any human being who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in heaven. So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary. As well, when King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, he specifically asked God to heed the prayer of non-Jews who come to the Temple (1-Kings 8:41-43).
As a Jew, it is not my job to go out and conquer the world, or force Judaism or the Noachide Laws on non-Jews. Yet, it is my responsibility as a Jew to be an example and to be able to explain the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to any non-Jew who wants to know about it.
It is this part of destiny that at times has been hard for some religious Jews to grapple with. Mainly due to the treatment that Jews have faced from the 2nd Century CE till recent history. How can on one hand a person look back and see the persecution of his ancestors, just for them trying to follow the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) within their own community. Now, they have to turn around and teach it to people who in many cases could care less, and in other cases descend from the people who persecuted those Jews from Europe to the Middle East to Africa to America.
It may sound strange, but it is a part of the Jewish destiny. The Torah was given for our benefit, but the Torah also had instruction for the non-Jewish nations. The reason is because every nation has a purpose and every nation has a mission. Is is clear, but we live in a time where it is more beneficial for a Jew to not live a life based on Torah. It is easier to simply throw off this responsibility because it is perceived to have failed us. Why did we have to suffer, why did we have to loose so much, why does it seem like God has abandoned us?
Maybe, the answer is both a mystery and a given. On some level we don't know why suffering exists in every nation, and not just our own as Jews. Maybe, we have something to share with the world, without using the methods that others have used to get their points across. Maybe it is time for us to stand up against evil and fight it with our defense being our spiritual, mental, and physical awareness peaked. Maybe, the world is trying to tell us that we can't throw away our ancestry and our faith and expect sympathy from the world. What would be the point of the Land of Israel without the faith of Israel?
The only reason we have a right to the Land of Israel is because of the Bible that not only we accepted, but also millions of non-Jews accept. Could it be that the more we run away from our destiny we fall further and further into the hate of nations who are crying out for sane dialog when it comes to faith matters? Maybe the world is crying out for the Torah we posses, so that the may know the ways of God. Though it is not our job to beat the world upside their heads with our faith, maybe in this time where we more freedom than our ancestors from about 600 BCE until 1948 the world is waiting for us to stand for something.
This isn't just a call to all of us who are Jewish, but is also a call to all non-Jews who believe in the God described in the Bible. He is not the token for only the Jewish people, and we know this because Adam was not a Jew, Noah was not a Jew, Abraham was not a Jew, Job was not a Jew, etc. Those who came before Jacob were not Israelites and they weren't Jews. Abraham was the father of Jews, certain Arabs, and a number of other Semitic people, but his faith in God preceded the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Noah and Job are seen in Judaism as examples to both Jews and non-Jews of how to walk with God.
This is a call for us all, face your fears, become who God created you to be, and stand for something!