From all the chaos surrounding us, it is easy to conclude that the world is becoming more and more depraved, with many groups using their belief systems to justify acts of terrorism and evil.
But the reality is that God’s plan continues to unfold.
The Rambam (Hil. Melachim8:11) states that non-Jews who observe the seven mitzvahs of Bnei Noach are referred to as “the righteous from among the nations” – but only if their observance of these laws is based on acceptance of them as having been given by God at Sinai.
If, however, their adherence is based on their own intellectual recognition and conclusion, they are neither “ger toshav” nor are they counted among the “righteous of the nations” – not even among their wise ones.
Which raises the question: Why not among the wise ones, since it was their wisdom and intellect that led them to recognize that these precepts ought to be followed?
The answer lies in the proper understanding of the opening verse of the Torah: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” The Hebrew for “in the beginning” is “bereishis,” in which the prepositional letter “b” can also be understood as “for the sake of.”
Accordingly, this verse is interpreted (Rashi, Bereishis 1:1) as follows: God created heaven and earth for the sake of Reishis. What is Reishis? Two entities are called Reishis (elsewhere in the Torah). Torah is called Reishis and Israel is called Reishis.
And so this opening verse of the Torah can be understood as saying God created the world for the sake of Torah and the people of Israel, who study the Torah and observe its mitzvahs. This indeed is the Blueprint of Creation and its purpose, with every part of Creation being an accessory to this end-purpose.
Now, what is the status of an accessory? Is it merely in a secondary position or can it become part and parcel of the overall plan by virtue of being a necessary preparatory detail thereof? According to the Rambam, the latter is the case. In this manner, the status of non-Jews vis-à-vis this Torah Blueprint of Creation can become part and parcel of the Godly plan.
There comes a time when individual non-Jews sense and realize that by observing the seven laws they help can help establish a world of justice, peace, and serenity, devoid of wars and strife – which can then fully become the fertile ground for Jews to truly fulfill their Torah-centered mission.
This recognition has been slow in coming in the course of history, with the non-Jews who recognize this truth constituting the true “righteous from among the nations.” But times are changing drastically, as God is directing the world toward the eventual Messianic utopia.
In the same way that, in significant measure through the efforts of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his emissaries over the course of half a century, uncountable numbers of Jews have become more Torah-observant, the number of non-Jews who have been positively affected has also risen drastically. Good will definitely prevail over evil; it cannot be any other way.
The nature of this process, however, is not simply a matter of an individual’s mere intellectual recognition of the truth of good vs. evil, of spirit vs. corporality. Hence, says the Rambam, those whose conduct is based solely on their personal philosophy and observations, rather than on recognition of the truth of Torah, do not satisfy the true definition of wisdom and “are not among their wise ones.”
In any event, regardless of what is reported in the media, the world is not becoming more depraved. The right way to look at the world is through investigating the lives and beliefs of the billions of individuals on earth.
All the spiritual advances mankind has already made will not recede. Acts of evil are not ignored or overlooked to the extent they once were. The current difficulties resulting from Islam and its extreme interpreters have been foretold by our prophets as being the last of the birth pangs that precede the coming of Mashiach. It augurs the beginning of a new, glorious chapter of history.
May we soon merit the coming of Mashiach and the era of peace and world subjugation to the Torah Blueprint of Creation.