• Home
  • Parashah Insights
  • Ask the Rabbi
  • Festivals & Fasts
  • Articles
  • Books
  • About
  •  

    An ethic of world government

    Jewish thinking tries to balance nationalism and universalism.

    Alenu, which originates in the Rosh HaShanah Musaf service, illustrates the balance.

    Its first paragraph is nationalistic, saying in effect: “God, You have made us different, special and unique”.

    The second paragraph is universalistic: “God, You have made many nations; may Your rule extend over them all”.

    Both themes figure throughout Rosh HaShanah liturgy and the universalistic theme seems to prevail: “Our God and God of our fathers, reign in Your glory over the whole universe”. God’s concern is global: “You remember the deeds of nations”.

    A wonderful ideal – HaShem as the God of the world, all nations ascending the mountain of the Lord, peace on earth as it is in Heaven, no wars or weapons (Isa.2:4, Micah 4:3).

    What stops the dream from becoming a reality?

    Some nations reject outright the idea of the Biblical God. Those who accept the God idea don’t want Him to mix into their affairs. Even Israel, which pays lip service to the Creator, is scared of clerical domination.

    Surely God Himself has an opinion, and it might be this:

    “I have been here a long time, and I can wait patiently until the nations decide to call upon My Name.

    “In the meantime let them at least jointly decide to live by My will: ‘Do not kill (especially your own people)’, ‘Do not steal, Do not commit adultery, Do not bear false witness…’, ‘Lay not your hand on the lad (let children be children and grow up in joy)’, ‘Support the falling’, ‘Have just weights and measures’, ‘Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly’, ‘Keep away from a false word’, ‘Study, teach and wonder…’

    “Achieve these things, make the world a Garden of Eden, and I will bless you and remember you unto life.”

    Comments are closed.