The message of the Gemara is not that Jews are inherently different from Gentiles. Rather, it is that Jews have the Torah which enables them to more easily fulfill their purpose. Jews, who have received the Torah, have the keys to fulfilling their purpose in life. Therefore they are called "Man". Gentiles, who do not have this tool, have greater difficulty in accepting God's yoke and therefore are not necessarily called "Man".
which commenters on the Reshimu site dismiss as "tired apologetics". I find it lacking in that Gentiles, who may not have the Torah, also do not have as many mitzvot. Is the Torah a universal code, that all Homo sapiens are called upon to fulfill? And non-Jews, not observing Torah, are not thereby living up to their potential?
I thought non-Jews are only obligated in Seven (or 66, according to R' Aharon Lichtenstein, cousin to the one in
There are various ways to perceive non-Jews, I think. One is to embrace the racism, as does the first chapter of Tanya, based on the Eitz Chaim of the Arizal (16th century):
מה שאין כן נפשות אומות העולם הן משאר קליפות טמאות שאין בהן טוב כלל
The souls of the nations of the world, however, emanate from the other, unclean kelipot which contain no good whatever,
כמו שכתוב בע׳ חיים שער מ״ט פרק ג׳: וכל טיבו דעבדין האומות לגרמייהו עבדין
as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 40, ch. 3, that all the good that the nations do, is done out of selfish motives.
[Since their nefesh emanates from kelipot which contain no good, it follows that any good done by them is for selfish motives.]
Which I'm sure made the Alter Rebbe's audience in 18th-century
Or, we can take Chazal in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot:
3:18. Rabbi Akiva used to say: Beloved is the man that he was created in the image of G-d; an extra love is made known to him that he was created in G-d's image, as it says (Genesis 9:6) "for in His own image G-d made humankind". Beloved are the Jews that they are called sons to G-d; an extra love is made known to them that they are called sons to G-d, as it says (Deuteronomy 14:1) "You are children of the Lord your G-d." Beloved are the Jews that there has been given to them the precious instrument; an extra love is made known to them that they were given the precious instrument of the world's creation, as it says (Proverbs 4:2) "For I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching."
- So Man is created in God's image. Man is himself beloved because God let him know this.
is called sons of God; they are beloved because God let them know this. Israel
- Jews were given the Torah; they are beloved because God let them know that this was the instrument of the world's creation.
Somehow this manages to portray all mankind as human, and Jews as extra beloved because of God's relationship with them. The non-Jews are not portrayed as sub-human, but the Jews are portrayed as receivers of extra love, because they are given extra work to do.
Still, that leaves us with the problematic statement in the Gemara in Yevamos 114b, "You are called Man [Adam], and the non-Jews are not called
However, that mishnah gives us a somewhat gentler understanding of the statement than R' Feldman's, which doesn't fall afoul of the 7 Laws of the Sons of Noah. The key can be found in the following Zohar (II, 86a), tr. R' Moshe Miller:
Rabbi Shimon taught: How privileged Israel is that the Holy One calls them "adam" ["man"], as is written, "You are my flock, the flock that I pasture; you are man (in Hebrew, "adam")" (Ez. 34:31); "When a man ("adam") will sacrifice..." (Lev. 1:2). Why does the verse refer to them as "adam"? Since it is written, "And you who cleave to the Lord your G-d..." (Deut. 4:4).
R' Miller comments: The word "adam" is a derivative of the word "domeh", meaning "like" or "similar to." (See Radak, Shorashim s.v. Adam.) Because the Jewish People cleave to G-d they are in His likeness, as in the verse, "We shall make man in Our image in Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). Note that the word for likeness is "kidmuteinu" - also a derivative of "domeh".
So it's not an inherent higher status (per the Tanya) which makes the others lesser, but an act of will and love. Avraham so loved the Lord that the Lord chose him and obligated his descendents to keep the Torah. We collectively accepted the mission at Sinai and again in the time of Esther and Achashverosh. Non-Jews are addressed as Adam, because they, like us, are descendants of Adam, created in God's Image. But only Jews strive to return to that primordial state, the state most like God, the state of pre-sin Adam. Thus, only the Jews are called Adam in that only they strive to be Adam.