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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 (151)
June 25, 2016
Shalom! Firstly, i apologize if i hurt any Christian sentiment in my previous post. Sorry!!!
Apparently the Torah (not sure what it would have been called if given to another people), was offered by G d to other nations first but they didn't want it or its responsibility. The jewish folk with Moses did. They took it upon themselves and became the guardians and torchbearers to show its Light to the nations. Some 3000-4000 years on and today they have admirably done so and doing...
The Laws of Moses can never be changed, added, or subtracted from. And HaShem established that He would never send or command a prophet to alter any one of Torah's commandments. (The Divine Code pg 34).
Today, what with the net worldwide, i am absolutely in awe of the work of the rabbis and Sages from then to now. Phew! Mindblowing! Today, when i find myself in a discussion in my circle about Jews being the 'Chosen people', i know they are.. Stood the test of time, and how!
They always come back! Blessings!
rajiv rajan
Pune
June 22, 2016
Being a Jew in the military, I was told by the Chaplain (Christian) that being G-d 's chosen people meant the Jews were chosen by G-d to spread the message that G-d is but one G-d, and G-d is one. Something to that effect, so reading this makes me rethink things a little bit. What is the real story?
Donovan
Tustin, CA
June 2, 2016
I am not a Jew; I am a gentile and a Christian. However, I believe and always have that the Jews are God`s chosen as the bible teaches. Israel is really the only nation set up and selected by God himself and the bible came through them. They were the first nation to know God and to be given his laws, For this reason I respect the Jewish people. I was raised to respect Jews and to acknowledge that they are God`s chosen. Sadly many do not, and show hostility to the idea of them being a chosen people. This is jealousy. I do not understand how anyone, particularly a Jew, could be offended by The Jews being god`s chosen. Obviously it does not make them better than others, but it does give them a connection to God that no other people have had. The Jews have a great deal of history with God that no other race on earth has had. They truly are a blessed nation.
melanie
UK, Wales.
March 6, 2016
True Jew vs False Jew
The promise to Abraham was to be a Father of many nations.

Ishmael also was foretold to be the father of twelve nations.

The purpose of G_D was set in place before all these things.

The offering of Isaac by Abram was only a step along the way.
Joseph H
June 3, 2015
thanks
Thanks John. Yes, out here in India you have an idol at every corner of the street. I found a lot of identification with your post. Infact all. I reckon there must be just a handful of tribes around the world with no idol or form or shape for G d. Only G d knows what's up with christendom. The first law itself; its there for all to see. Thanks again Chabad!
rajiv rajan
pune
May 23, 2015
Jews "chosen" for what
The concept of being G-D's"chosen People" has provoked may in the wrong direction thinking that Jews are chosen to live a life privilege. That is a mistake. The reason G-D chose Jews, He chose them to tell the world about the One and true G-D. From the time we read of Adam knowing G-D, by the time we get to Noah, Noah was the only man on the face of the earth who worship Elohim. G-d started over. From Noah to the time of Abraham, No one knew or worshiped The Most High. Abraham's father was an idol maker, so G-D "chose" Abraham, established a relationship with him, which would go on to change the world. However Jacob a couple generations moved his family to Egypt where Jews before the time of slavery began to embrace Egypt's gods. Even after they were free they forged a gold calf to worship. Its safe to say G-d decided to train a group of people in a way so that never again would the world not know the The Most High, creator of all. The group He chose" Jews. Incidentally the Jews that came out of Egypt were so inclined and tainted with Egyptian idol worship, that except one ( Caleb) none were allowed to enter the promised land. Again Jews were "chosen" to tell the world for all generations about the true and living G-D, to tell about His laws, His ways, His blessings, and above all, abut His love for all people regardless of being Jewish or not.
John C Fernandez
Orlando
May 6, 2015
Arrogant?
Anonymous, (Dallas TX), would I be arrogant if I asked you "why is it that so many Christians come across as arrogant"?
Meira Shana
San Diego
May 4, 2015
Then why is it that Jews so often come across as arrogant?
Anonymous
Dallas, TX. U.S.A.
March 17, 2015
The bible says ...
Seems to me that G-d Said ... and, if one believes the bible (Hebrew, Tanakh, Jewish) then make note that He said 'chosen' - the people did not.

I have never been taught that Jews are better because they are The Chosen.

It's easy to remember: G-d chose all -- few chose to listen. Those who listened became known as Jews.

Do we all listen? Not necessarily.

But Jews do not pray to idols, or to a person. We pray directly to G-d, as He commanded us to do. That, in and of itself, means that we do not accept Jesus as our god or savior. ONLY G-d has that distinction in Judaism.

For Jews to listen to G-d per His instructions means we have been forever attacked and murdered by those to chose to go in a different direction and who call the original words 'Old' ...
Meira Shana
San Diego
March 15, 2015
I am a practising Roman Catholic and I strongly believe the Jews are the chosen people and I love and respect them. They are my people and I will always defend them! Without Judaism there would be no Christianity. I like to believe that we are the 'adopted sons of Israel.' In my working life I have worked for two Jewish companies and both of them treated me as one of their own family. and were most generous to me.
Marnie
England