The well known Kabbalist Rabbi Michael Laitman states in a Quora comment; “The Jewish people are not a people like other nation, founded on the common denominators of residential area, family relations, origin or color. The followers of Abraham were instead a conglomeration of different people whose one common denominator was a shared ideological basis.”
The great Torah commentator Rashi taught that Jews started seeking converts from the very beginning. Rashi interpreted Genesis 12:5 which states that Abraham made souls in Haran, to mean that Abraham and Sarah both made converts to monotheism in Haran, and later among the various nations in the Holy Land. These converts who went with Abraham and Sarah to the Holy Land were the majority of Abraham’s army of 318 men who rescued Lot from captivity. (Genesis 14:14)
Rabbi Laitman states that this special group of Isaac and Jacob’s descendants plus all the converts and their descendants would later be called “Israel,” which is derived from the phrase “Yashar-El” (Straight to God), i.e. a desire directed straight to the power that manages reality.
“Since then and throughout history, anyone who joined Israel on the basis of the same unifying principle was warmly welcomed. French, Italian, African, Japanese—anyone in the world—was and could be a Jew. Kabbalah explains that the Jewish people is not a nation like the 70 nations of the world. Jewishness is an ideology, a person’s attitude toward others.
“Although Jews have lived and married among themselves as a relatively small group over the generations and have acquired a similar external form, when the ten lost tribes are revealed, it will not be genes that will bind us, but ideology. The external form of the ten lost tribes will surely appear different from who we see today as Jews, but between all of them will be a spirit of mutual solidarity combined with the love of Zion.”
Rabbi Laitman continues: “The awakening and manifestation of the ten lost tribes depends on the awakening of the Jews themselves. As the Jews become more and more connected, their unity will be projected throughout the network of connection that binds together all life and this will make the tribes emerge from their hiding places. At the same time, Jewish unity will build a kind of “womb,” an environment capable of absorbing the ten lost tribes.”
I would add that all three Abrahamic religions share similar views about many things; ranging from basic concepts to minor details. For example, they all agree that the one God of all creation, has used spiritual agents or messengers who act as agents of the Divine will. All three religions even use some of the same names for their angels; like Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, although each religion perceives their roles and activities in different ways.
In the same way, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all proclaim that sometime in the future our world will undergo world wide, cataclysmic upheavals, that will occur prior to Judgement Day, and the resurrection of the dead; as well as the belief that God’s anointed (Moshe’akh in Hebrew, Messiah in English, Christos in Greek and Madhi in Arabic) will come to battle the forces of evil and promote peace.
One of the major differences between the Muslim and the Jewish-Christian views of the signs of the coming Messianic Age; is the many Biblical prophecies of the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
Had these differences been widely discussed by Muslims and Jews in the decades prior to the 1917 Balfour Declaration perhaps a religious agreement to share the Holy Land might have been arranged that would have avoided the tragic conflict of the last 100+ years.
But the leaders on both sides in those generations, were primarily political nationalists who failed to see the larger religious events soon to take place. In 1897, when the Zionist movement held its first internationalist congress, only 1% of the world’s Jews lived in the Land of Israel. Now, 125 years later, 45% of the world’s Jews live in the revived State of Israel.
And since the 1960’s an even larger number of Muslims have settled in Europe, and North and South America. While these movements have resulted in the rise of inter-religious tensions worldwide, they also provide religious opportunities for spiritual developments of ‘End-time’ significance. Here is a small example from the Jewish view.
Most people have heard of the ‘ten lost tribes of Israel’. In reality they were never lost; they were just submerged among the much larger non Jewish population in the place where they lived, or they moved to distant lands, and over the course of centuries became detached from the main body of the Jewish People, and were forgotten.
The well known Marano Jews, who are the descendants of Jews forced to convert into the Catholic Church in 15th century Spain and Portugal, are a good example of a submerged Jewish population similar to the forced underground Muslims of Spain.
The Jewish communities in India and China are a good example of remote Jewish communities, who in the 12th and 13th century became detached from the body of Israel and were forgotten. Today the Jews of India and China are remembered primarily because, unlike Jews in Europe and the Middle East, the Jews in India and China never were subject to Anti-Semitism or any form of religious oppression.
Now, a new group of ‘lost’ Indian Jews, who are descendants of the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten tribes exiled from the Land of Israel in 721 BCE by the conquering Assyrian Empire, are returning home.
In 2005, Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar officially backed the Bnei Menashe’s claim to be Jewish. That announcement led to a wave of immigration from India to Israel; and about 1,700 of the 7-8000+ Bnei Menashe community arrived in Israel over a decade ago. But the flow stopped in 2007, when Israel stopped giving visas to the Bnei Menashe due to objections from some Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis.
Israel’s decision to reverse the policy paved the way for the remaining Bnei Menashe members to migrate. Some 5,000+ Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in recent years, with almost 3-4,000 still remaining in India.
The Bnei Menashe Indian Jewish community says it is one of the ten lost tribes of Israel who were exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. According to its oral tradition, the tribe travelled through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China and on to India, where it eventually settled in the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram.
Ethiopian Jews are another remote community that returned to Israel a generation ago after a separation of over 2,000 years. The amazing 1991 rescue of 15,000 Ethiopian Jews in an airlift lasting less than 48 hours stirred and inspired people for several weeks. Subsequently, the difficult problems the newcomers faced (similar to those of the 900,000 Russian Jews who immigrated in the 1970’s and 1980’s) occupied the Jewish media. Now both are taken for granted. The miracle has become routine.
But if you had told the Jews of Ethiopia two generations ago that they would someday all fly to Israel in a giant silver bird, they could only conceive of this as a Messianic miracle.
If you had told Russian Jews a generation ago that the Soviet regime would collapse, and the Soviet Empire disintegrate; while hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews would emigrate to Israel, they would have conceived it only as a Messianic dream.
In our own generation therefore we have seen the dramatic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I (God) will bring your offspring from the East (India) and gather you from the (European) West. To the North (Russia) I will say ‘give them up’ and to the South (Ethiopia) ‘do not hold them’. Bring my sons from far away, my daughters from the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6)
Truly amazing things are happening in our generation if we would only open our eyes to the wonders around us. If we, and our religious leaders do, then we may also see the fulfillment of another prediction of Prophet Isaiah:
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)