Wednesday, January 30, 2008

No Longer Receiving Vitality From The Gimel Klippos Temeyos

(Picture by Pat Anderson)

Rabbi Dovid Sears commenting on "A Waiting Controversy":

This is a very mysterious distinction. We observe many Jews who seem to be quite "unspiritual" and unenlightened, many non-Jews who seem to be highly spiritual and wise, with every possible combination in the middle.

I think the key to this mystery is the Zohar's teaching, which is explained by Rav Chaim Vital, that one internalizes the various higher levels of the soul through Torah and avodah and acts of chesed, etc. Then these divine potentials become part of who "we" are in the here and now.

Same thing for gentiles. If they are pursuing materialistic goals, the nefesh is what animates them and their approach to life. If they are morally and spiritually advanced, they receive higher capacities.

Thus, one who observes the Noachide laws (i.e., who is a moral person in the most basic sense) no longer receives his or her vitality from the Gimel Klippos Temeyos but from the next higher level; and on and on.

As Tanna Devei Eliyahu states in the name of Hashem: "I will put My spirit on anyone, Jew or gentile, man or woman, slave or handmaid -- it all depends upon one's deeds!"

The Tiferes Yisrael (Rabbi Yisrael Lifshutz, 19th century) also takes a more inclusive stance, counting those who benefit humanity among the "chasidei umos ha-olam," righteous gentiles, apparently even if they are not so perfect in heeding all of the Noachide laws. (For example, I don't think Sir Francis Drake, whom he lauds for introducing the potato to Europe, thus saving millions of people, was such a paragon of virtue in other areas of his life.)

As in almost all things in Judaism, there is a range of views about this issue. As Rav Moshe Cordovero states again and again, citing numerous referents, God cares for all of His creatures, all have worth in His sight, and we are supposed to emulate that divine love. Rav Chaim Vital says the same thing. Ditto Rav Pinchos Eliyahu of Vilna, author of Sefer HaBris. Ditto Rav Kook, and countless others. If all non-Jews were "monsters," how could be encouraged to love and respect them?

As for "true altruism" -- how many of us ever do anything that is purely unselfish? The saintly Chofetz Chaim berated himself that he was not free from the least taint of self-concern -- how much more does this reproach apply to the rest of us?


At January 30, 2008 at 8:10:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your father must have been a liberal!

At January 30, 2008 at 8:22:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actually my father was an admirer of William Safire and voted Republican (while my mother, the daughter of a socialist, voted Democratic -- and they didn't argue about politics). However, I never heard my father or mother say one bad word about any religion, nationality, or race my entire childhood. I never knew that this was anything special until I was well into my teens!


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