In Isaiah 42:6 we read

I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations

I have seen it argued that it is a responsibility for Jews to act as example to the people of the world. Based on the fact that throughout global history Jews have had a very minor influence, and even today there are billions of people who have never heard of or are at best only remotely aware of the existence of Judaism at all, I would like to know if any Rabbinic authority has written on the subject of the seeming failure of the Jewish people to successfully be a light to the nations?

  • @ShmuelBrin currently, several billion in China and India for starters. But in any case hearing about a book(s?) is the definition of success in being a light to the nations?!?
    – user6641
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:45
  • If I could have an explanation for why there are votes to close the question I would be able to edit and improve it.
    – user6641
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:46
  • 1
    @user6641, not sure you really can fix the question. Any answer is a matter of opinion. Nothing really wrong with the question, but not every question fits here.
    – Yishai
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 20:18
  • 2
    @user6641, yes, that would certainly be an objectively answerable question, although you might consider phrasing it more neutrally (e.g. "... on the subject of whether or not the Jewish people have successfully been ...")
    – Yishai
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 1:48
  • 1
    @user6641 I doubt you'll find anyone who considers our task to already be a closed book. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


in this phase of history we are supposed to be working on being good students not good teachers.

the messianic era is when the Jews will be the teachers of humanity and the light unto the nations.


Rabbi Uziel Milevsky, former chief rabbi of mexico


nevertheless, he brings some examples of how judaism has successfully influenced the world, the concept of ethical monotheism - it all comes from us.

  • by ethical monotheism do you mean as mandated in the 7 Noahide mitzvot? I don't believe there is or has ever been any significant amount of people who practice that.
    – user6641
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:24
  • @user6641 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noahidism, especially en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noahidism#Modern_Noahidism
    – MTL
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:25
  • 1
    @Shokhet I am aware, which is why I wrote "significant amount"
    – user6641
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:47
  • @user6641 see the lecture where he quotes the sefer ikarim on certain aspects of christianity and islam
    – ray
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 20:15