Each Jew is expected to reach an understanding of his destination in life even as he grapples with the questions along his journey. Thus he will come to understand that his status as a Jew was not decided by a blind fate which appears at times to be meaningless and cruel.
We must comprehend that our life has meaning as an element of a divine plan. The Jewish people are no less than God's messengers on earth. We are God's witnesses.
For the Jew, this battle of defense is ultimately won through the exercise of free choice. We have often played the part of the persecuted people upon the stage of history. However, the scope of the problem is much larger. The term "despised" conjures up an infinitely more pejorative image than the word "persecuted." Persecution is a political, social, material state. To be despised is a much lower level.
How is it possible that the truth be hiding within a tiny, despised nation, a nation which persists, against all logic and in the face of degradation, in considering itself the chosen people? As Jews, as believers, as ethical human beings, we constantly find ourselves in the minority. And as a result we are often criticized by society, criticism that seems at times too difficult to bear. Constant effort is necessary to hold fast against the tremendous social pressure of the majority. To be chosen means, in effect, to swim against the stream.
It is impossible to understand either Christianity or Islam, or indeed any of the modern world, without the basis of Judaism. All the world leans upon the pillar constructed by this tiny, despised nation. Paradoxically, this same tiny nation covers the front pages of newspapers the world over. Christianity and Islam, for all their great numbers, must define themselves through Judaism. The Jewish inferiority complex is therefore unjustified.
God has assured us "...it is not for your great numbers that God has desired you of all the nations." Our very existence proves that there is nothing to fear in mere numbers. We must search for answers to our existential questions, answers built upon our national mission.
The comparison between Judaism and the other central religions comes to teach us that the Jews, despite their small numbers, are not an insignificant tribe or a "statistical error" among the populations of the world. The Jews possess a message of universal import.
One who never heard the knock (tinok shenishba) will be judged according to his subjective intentions. Whoever has not yet been faced with the challenge, whoever has not experienced the dream, cannot be judged objectively. In the heavenly court they will be judged innocent, since they knew no better. Many idol worshippers actually intend to worship God; however, they are misled by their lack of religious knowledge.
But the moment a knock is heard, responsibility begins. Each of us hears the Godly call at some point in our lives. Whether the call is experienced in a dream or in daily life is of no consequence. Whether we are awakened by a stunning sunrise or sunset, after reading a new book, in moments of tragedy, joy or fear - no matter. God communicates with man in numerous ways. This is in fact one of the central tenets of the Hasidic movement.
The question God asked of Adam in the garden of Eden - "Where are you," echoes throughout the ages. God communicates with man in numerous ways. Once the question has been asked of you, even as you attempt to determine whether you have indeed heard the heavenly call, the process of response has already begun.