Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
Kabbalah Online
Kids Zone

Are the Jews the Chosen People?

Are the Jews the Chosen People?



I have long been uncomfortable with the concept of the "Chosen People". To suggest that as Jews we are somehow closer to G-d than all other nations smacks of arrogance, elitism, and racial prejudice. How is that any different to anti-Semitism?



Dear Margaret,

That is a fantastic question -- a question that could only come from someone who is chosen. Allow me to explain.

In the Jewish understanding, chosenness leads not to arrogance, but rather to humility. If it were some human king that chose us to be his special people, then your assumption would be correct -- we would become elitists. When a mortal power shows favoritism towards a subject, that subject will become more arrogant as a result -- the closer you are to the king, the more significant you are, and the more significant you are the higher respect you feel you deserve.

But we were chosen by G-d. And the closer you are to G-d, the more you sense your insignificance. While being buddy-buddy with a human leader inflates your ego, a relationship with G-d bursts your selfish bubble. Because G-d is an infinite being, and all delusions of petty self-importance fall away when you stand before infinity. Being close with G-d demands introspection and self-improvement, not smugness.

This is the idea of the Chosen People -- a nation of individuals who have been given the opportunity to sense G-d's closeness, hear His truth and relay his message to the world. All agree that it was the Jews that introduced the world to monotheism and a system of ethics and morals that has shaped the modern view of life and its purpose. And it is the survival of Judaism to this day that attests to the eternal value of this system.

To say that this is ethnocentric is absurd for one simple reason: anyone from any ethnic background can convert to Judaism and become chosen. Jewish chosenness is not a gene, it is a state of the soul. Anyone wishing to take it upon themselves is welcome -- as long as they are ready to have their bubble burst.

So the arrogant person is not acting chosen. The true test of chosenness is how humble you are. You, Margaret, have passed this test with flying colors. Your humility is so deep, it doesn't allow you to accept that you are chosen. While most other religious groups are quite comfortable claiming that they are the best, we Jews will do anything to say that we are nothing special. Now that's what I call a Chosen People!

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (125)
November 28, 2014
I am poor, lonely, not very brillant or terribly handsome. Being Jewish is all i got. And i felt so when younger, loved,richer and yes, terribly handsome. I accept that other Jews argue or disagree about being chosen. But Jewish or not,who can really understand a G-dly choice? what a brillant answer to a fantastic question this article offers.
U.s of A
October 25, 2014
Chosen People
More a question than a comment. Didn't G-d offer the law to others before Abraham and while others didn't accept the law, Abraham did? Are we chosen because G-d chose us or we chose G-d?
October 6, 2014
The Chosen People
Yes, I have always felt uncomfortable with the phrase "chosen people" too. Even if it signifies our humility in the face of the Eternal, is also signifies that we are unique in our capacity to experience this humility, which ironically, is not humble. There are all kinds of people who are not Jewish who are as or more capable as a many amongst us of recognizing their relative insignificance. There have been non-Jews like Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, who gave their lives in a very literal sense for the cause of helping others. It is not enough that we remove labels among ourselves, i.e. conservative, orthodox, liberal. According to the Torah we all came from the same source. There was only on creation and one family, humanity. The story of Adam and Eve tells us that we are all related, all people of the earth. We are all one, as G-d is one. We humans are all part of G-d's family. He is the father of everyone and everything, Jew and non-Jew alike.
July 28, 2014
What is a stiff necked person? (example below)
Here is the difference between a stiff necked person, and somebody else.
For example, suppose a government was doing some bad, illegal thing, to many of its citizens, including charging them fines or arrest them if they complained. But it wasn't so bad, that it would ruin their lives, so most people tolerated it for a short while, until it went away, and they paid their unfair fines to the government.

The classical stiff necked person would fight back, not bow down to their law, not pay the fines, fight against those trying to arrest them, and then completely change the law, and perhaps oust the government representatives who were part of the entire bad thing.
That's a true stiff necked person.
For many Hebrews, it's in the DNA already. It's just there, it's in so many of us….
For other tribes, this stiff neckedness is much more rare.
New York / Tel Aviv
July 28, 2014
Actually... about choosing your parents, and Samson, don't forget Samson
Many, many people think all children choose their parents, or approve of them, before they are born, in the spiritual world. I know this is stuff no one can know for sure, or prove, until of course, we are in another realm, after death, and then we know. But personally, I think Gd, or angels or something, presents several sets of parents for us, and we choose.
But I don't know for sure, but if I was going to bet, that's where I would bet my chips on that question.

And on the "Whipping Boy" thang.
You people forget about Samson.
He was the baddest toughest dude on the planet.
And though many Hebrews are "whipping boys", or not tough guys,
there are ALWAYS, in EVERY generation,
a group of Hebrews that no one else on Earth can beat in hand to hand combat.
I know of one.
He ain't no whipping boy.
If he was a professional fighter, he would be number 1.
But he does other things for a living.
Not all Hebrews are whipping boys.
New York / Tel Aviv
July 27, 2014
As a Muslim- in the Quran is explicitly states numerous times that the Jews were chosen above all nations... Numerous prophets coming forth from this nation to worship God, beyond idols in His Unity. God also have the Jews specific commandments. God's choice of the Jews is clear for me- however the issue comes if one says THE Chose people, the ONLY, chosen people. This I believe is never stated in the Torah or in the Quran- the Jews are Chosen, though not the ONLY chosen people. Each act of creation from east to west is chosen by God- useful in this discussion would be Jews considering their specific chosenness from a point not taking this to be qualitatively 'better' than that of other people, removing any arrogance or lack of humility which at times manifests and to do the work they are sent to do... And non-Jews, Muslims, Christians etc not to assume that Jews in their understanding of Chosenness infer that others are not Chosen in some other beautiful manifestation as well
July 27, 2014
While reading the Bible, being a non-jew, I forget the Book and verse but distinctly recall G d stating He chose the Jews because they were a stiff necked people and He wanted to show the world what happens when someone is obedient and when not. They were to be an example. No doubt He loves them. Like a Father. From what I can see, they have come thru' the test with flying colors. They have endured their tribulations exemplarily. Just do remain to be kindly towards the less fortunate gentiles. Light truly comes forth from Jerusalem.
Rajiv R
Goa India
June 24, 2014
Chosen for what?
The Jews were chosen to be God's whipping boys... I chose to opt out.
June 11, 2014
Choosing the Yoke
I am amazed that people are still debating this issue. The rule of life is, one is responsible ONLY for his/her choice. One does not choose his place of birth, parents, brothers,sisters, nationality complexion or name etc. and therefore is not responsible for all of the above. Jews are Chosen People which means traditionally, they had a choice: they chose the rules and regulations presented to them by Moses. Whatever occurs later in history is the consequence of this very choice.
Lev Anenberg
June 9, 2014
NEVER taught 'superior' or 'better than'
I was raised orthodox and know that I was never taught that 'chosen' meant I was better than anyone else.

My brother and I were taught to respect all people and to respect ourselves by treating others as we would like to be treated.

However ... many of the Christian kids (and their parents) called us 'dirty Jews' and other not very nice names. We didn't understand and my stock answer as an 8 years old little girl was 'why do you call us that? You pray to a Jew!'

They made fun of little boys for wearing skullcaps - and I said to them 'The Pope wears a yarmulka!'

No amount of respect for others made a difference to the non-Jewish bigot children.

No, I'm not better as G-d's Chosen ... but sure better at practicing the Jewish religion than were those who belittled us.

As an adult, I've been to many different denominations of Christian churches and find it appalling how much hatred of Jews is spewed to the congregants.

I love when after services they see my Jewish star or chai.
Meira Shana
San Diego
Show all comments
Load next 50