How much weight, seriousness and focus does orthodox Judaism give to the prophecy of Isaiah 49:6:

It is too small a thing that thou shall be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel: I have given thee for a light unto the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.

In what ways do the Orthodox and Hasidim endeavor to be "a light unto the Gentiles"? I ask this from the perspective of someone to whom it seems the deeper someone is into Orthodox Judaism, the more they try to limit their contact and exposure to Gentiles as much as possible.

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    No source, hence a comment for now. I think that there is a notion that, as we remain in exile, we are not in the position to be "a light unto the gentiles" just yet. Thus it is concluded that contact with gentiles should be minimized to avoid assimilation. There are varying degrees to which this notion is subscribed to, obviously, as evidenced by the different orthodox communities one encounters.
    – Baby Seal
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:47
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    Leading by example doesn't necessitate that much contact.
    – Double AA
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:49
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    chabad took this pretty seriously en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah#Chabad_movement
    – Baby Seal
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:50
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    Note that shining a light does not help if someon carefully puts on blinders. Being a "light unto the nations" includes keeping all the mitzvos of the Torah and involves behaving correctly. It does not necessarily involve contact and exposure to the nations. Nov 1, 2015 at 21:52
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    You should provide a source that that's even what the text means. How do you know God isn't saying this about Isaiah?
    – Shimon bM
    Oct 10, 2017 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


This verse is not a command for Israel to be a light unto the nations. Its speaking about Isaiah, not Israel. G-d is telling Isaiah not to be upset that he didn't complete the job of returning the Jews to G-d, because his job will now be even greater: to prophecy the prophecies of the Messianic Age which will affect all the nations of the earth.


, לכן אמר לי ה' אל תדאג על שלא השגת התכלית שבעבורו נוצרת, ולא נשלמה העבודה שיחדתי לך שהוא להשיב ישראל בתשובה, כי לגדולה מזה אתה מוכן עתה, ויחדתי לך עתה תכלית גדול ועבודה נכבדת מאד, על כי "נקל מהיותך לי עבד להקים את שבטי יעקב", העבודה המיוחדת לך עד עתה להקים שבטי יעקב, הוא דבר נקל וקטן וכאין נחשב נגד העבודה שנתתי בידך עתה, כי עתה "ונתתיך לאור גוים", עתה לא יהיה תכלית שליחותך ענין פרטי שהוא להשיב הדור ההוא בתשובה רק ענין גדול כללי, כי אתה נמשחת לבשר ענוים הבשורות הגדולות והנחמות העתידות, בעת הישועה הכללית שתהיה באחרית הימים, אשר לאור נבואתך ילכו גוים רבים...‏


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