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Are the Jews the Chosen People?

Are the Jews the Chosen People?

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Question:

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?

Sincerely,
Margaret

Answer:

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 Chabad.org.
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Discussion (141)
February 23, 2015
You Win
Looks okay... at the very least, doesn't look like any Noahide codes broken here..:-) but like the sharing from Devorah, chosen or not, the jewish folk are the torch-bearers of the Torah or Instructions which is good for all mankind. and it was given to them to follow and carry forward and share. The fruits of which we see today. Thank you.G d will prove to be with you. Hang in there...just a lil' while longer. Shalom. The light will shine from Jerusalem across the world. May it be sooner!
Rajiv Rajan
Pune India
February 19, 2015
you win
For those I have offended, accept my deepest apologies. Please, refrain from being brutal toward me.
Mary Schulmeyer
Abingdon
February 19, 2015
reply to the anonymous author
Your brutality pours from your words. Perhaps my study of history needs refreshing. However, do you really believe Jews owned the slave ships? I think not. Your soul radiates darkness. The soul is the life source. Humble thyself and restore light. I fail to understand the monthly checks you referred to... I feel you are insinuating greed, which is far from my persona, my faith. Yes, I lost my family heritage in WWII. Time can't erase that. However, in time, we grow in strength of faith. May G-d bring you to His light and restore your light. Be humble, my friend. Know that you are loved.
Mary Schulmeyer
Abingdon
February 19, 2015
@ Mary Schulmeyer

Have you done research? Many people died and suffered during ww11. Just how many jews do you think died exactly? Probably 6 million, right? Let's not forget that slavery in the US was made possible using jewish ships, can't you just be happy that you got away with israel and your monthly cheques? Now you want a national day? Pfff.
Anonymous
February 12, 2015
Chosen?
Chosen is a great description for Judah. G-d chose them to demonstrate to the world how people should function with Hashem. Notice the Torah blesses those who obey and there are curses for those who don't. It is the choice of the recipient which "reward" they reap. Chose for the task of guarding the TaNaK. Chosen for many reasons. Special? Ask Hashem. Because of the fathers, yes. Yet much is expected because of this brit.
Douglas Carter
Trion
February 10, 2015
Neither Judaism nor a soul could be inherited, everybody knows that. Let's the rabbi stick to the religion and leave the genetics to scientists.
And as for the Black History Day it appears that Mary Shulmeyer is misinformed. The slaves did not belong to the same nation or religion. It is a Pan American holiday. Jews, not being a nation, yet do have a holiday that commemorate their liberation from political oppression and religious persecution, it is called Chanukah
Lev Anenberg
Vaughan, Ontario
February 6, 2015
Aaron Moss lies. Everyone knows judaism can be "inherited" from your mother, dont know why if it's supposed to be a state of the soul.

Are states of the soul based on genetics?
Anonymous
Jerusalem
January 20, 2015
The chosen people
I raised my daughter in the Catholic faith just to avoid a battle. We did this and that. Then, Confirmation. My daughter refused. That was WWIII. Her grandmother told me to force her. That is insanity. She said she is a Jew! She made her choice. I respect that. To add to my previous post... Americans celebrate black history month. Where is our month? We lost more people than the slaves. I lost all of my family by the hands of an insane man. Our faith glued us back to life. Are we the chosen? I was raised to believe this. I don't judge others. Be a good person, and you get my attention. I was taught that as well. It's a rough horizontal path. We grow by overcoming hard blocks along the way Jew or Christian. This world is a disaster. Just show love to all. That makes you special.
Mary Schulmeyer
Abingdon
January 20, 2015
Are Jews the chose race. I stopped for a while to consider my response. The Jews believed strongly about G-d our Father from the start. That makes our community special. What I do not understand is in America, we have a black history month because they were placed in slavery. I understand their plight. However, reflect on our community for a moment. Look at how many Jews suffered and died. I lost my family due to disturbed man, Hitler. Still, our faith held our people to be strong and work on our horizontal path. Our faith is the glue for strength and endurance.
Mary Schulmeyer
Abingdon
January 7, 2015
I don't agree that that is how the question should be taken.
It becomes relevant when the same bias is applied to Judaism as is applied to other religions by fervent jews. Meaning that we are not chosen but simply believe or disbelieve the myth that it is the case. I personally find it laughable. I find self-importance funny in that it presupposes that we or some people must matter more than others in the billions who come and go through the ages, somehow some of us or groups of us must have special relevance. And the lengths we will go to to justify this conceit. I challenge anyone to disavow in themselves the notion that their life has to matter so much and be filled with so much special meaning to the eons that follow. Assume for one moment that your intellectual life doesn't matter except to you. And that the consequence doesn't lead to irrelevance but rather to liberation from the thought that enslaves us all. So we are worm food,. So our lives don't matter once we die. So what?
SdM
Montreal
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