I am reading a passage of Rambam's Introduction to the Talmud (chapter 8), where he analyses that the distinguishing function of Man in Creation is to develop his ability to think, being its highest aim to create an understanding about the Unity of G'd, and all related ideas (which includes the 613 mitzvot). When I was reading about it, I remembered having read in Parashat Ki Tisa, Chapter 33 (regarding Matan Torah), that Rashi comments that after the episode of the Golden Calf, Moses asked G'd that the Shechinah (and not an Angel) should accompany Am Israel to Eretz Israel, and, from that moment on, the Shechinah should only be with Am Israel, and not amidst any other heathen nation in the world, and this would also separate Am Israel from the other nations. The question that came to me was: what would be the difference between Am Israel's process when thinking about G'd's unity (as per Rambam's idea of man's - in general - ability to think) and the process of the other nations, since the Shechinah would be only with Am Israel (if I correctly understood Rashi's idea)? Wouldn't this mean that men were created different (shouldn't their intrinsic abilities/essence be a consequence of the very definition of Man, in general)? Also, don't we see that nations have the ability to reach G'd from their
knowledge from Nature, in the present times? How does this reconcile with Rashi's comment that the Shechinah would not be with the heathen nations? I came to you because Rashi cites as his source a discussion on Berachot, 7a. to explicit this idea, and I could not properly find my way through it. Thanks in advance for your attention, and best regards,
S?o Paulo, Brazil
Eduardo, S?o Paulo, Brazil
The "Hashra'as ha'Shechinah," the dwelling of the Shechinah, that Rashi mentions has no connection to man's understanding of the ways of his Creator.
Every person can contemplate the ways of Hash-m, Jew and non-Jew alike. A Jew is able to contemplate the ways of Hash-m through Hash-m's Torah, and a non-Jew is able through Hash-m's creation. However, Hash-m protects the Jewish nation, and reveals Himself to His people (through prophetic vision), in a manner which is not paralleled by any other nation. This element of Hash-m is called "Shechinas Hash-m," and this is what the Gemara means when it says that it does not dwell upon the other nations of the world.
In order to help you understand this further, I am attaching an essay I wrote which is related to this issue.
All the best,