Q. Prince Charles recently praised Chief Rabbi Sacks as “a light to the nation”. The words are obviously based on Isaiah’s prophecy (chapter 49 verse 6) that Israel would be “a light unto the nations (plural)”. How does one go about being a light to the nation or nations?
A. You don’t necessarily convert them to Judaism, though a Jewish mission to the gentiles would not be a bad idea. You teach them Jewish ideas, ideals and values even if they will never adopt the full program of Judaism.
Sometimes you work by means of direct contact: sometimes you enlist other agencies and groups, even other faiths. Maimonides says that Christianity and Islam, though theologically erroneous, deserve respect because they help to teach monotheism and ethics.
Every serious thinker recognises that Judaism is the source of spirituality and ethics. So if we are indispensable to the world, why do we get criticised and misunderstood?
One of the factors behind antisemitism is the human experience that some pupils turn on their teachers. It is ironical, on the other hand, that there are Jews who are so busy working with and on the world that they forget to be Jewish far sich – for themselves.