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Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

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Question:

I've been asking this from everybody and I can't get an answer: Why do Jews exclude other people? My fiance's parents told me that for a Jew to marry a non-Jew and have children is worse than the Holocaust! I don't get it. Am I really that terrible? In a world with 6 billion people, what kind of G‑d is the Jewish G‑d, who chose a tiny percentage of the population of the world and left the rest without G‑d's mercy?

I don't think I have to mention that I'm not a Jew myself, but I am in a relationship with a Jew, and I want to know more. I want to understand, because right now, I have big problems finding acceptance and respect for Judaism, which of course causes problems in our relationship. I could ask him, but I would rather ask a rabbi, since I expect you to have deeper knowledge than my boyfriend.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Answer:

I'm glad you were persistent in asking your question, and I'm glad you've given us a chance to answer.

First, please keep in mind that I didn't make any of the statements you are citing. Start reading fresh, like we've never discussed this before. Because, we haven't.

I'm sure you understand that every creature G‑d has made on this planet wishes to survive. Not just each individual critter wants to go on living, but the mothers want to see their children survive and those children want to see their children survive and so on. In other words, each species wants to endure and survive.

We Jewish people also want to survive. We are a tiny portion of the 6 billion you mentioned. We've been around for almost four thousand years. At times, we made up more than 10% of the world. At other times, much less. Right now, we're less than a quarter of a percent.

Each people makes their contribution to humanity -- inventions, ideas, wisdom, music, art, culture. As a people, we've made many important contributions to the rest of the world. Such as monotheism, the value of human life, equality before the law, the concept of world peace. All these and many other ideas that are central to our society today find their source in the Bible and the other traditions of the Jewish people. Since Biblical times, we have made many more contributions to the societies in which we lived, whether in ethics, in philosophy, in medicine, in the sciences...you name it. So it would make sense that the other nations of the world, as well, would want us to survive.

Do we claim superiority? I don't think so. Christians and Muslims both attest to the truth of the Biblical account, where we were picked out by G‑d to perform a mission -- to be a light unto the nations. We contend that G‑d never changed His mind. And, as anyone can see, we've accomplished much of that mission. Most of the ethics we were charged to teach have been accepted by most of the world. Maybe they haven't put it all into action -- but they will, and we believe that time will come very soon.

Do we exclude others? Absolutely not. Any person who wishes to join the Jewish people and their holy mission is welcome, regardless of race, color, sex or family background. We only ask that they commit to keeping the rules G‑d gave us, just as the Jewish people accepted those rules when they received the Torah at Mount Sinai some 3300 years ago. And if they opt not to join, we believe that the righteous people among the nations will share in the rewards of the time to come. I don't know of any other religion so liberal as to say such a thing: You don't have to join us, you don't have to do the things we do, just believe in one G‑d and fulfill the basic requirements of every human being to society, and you're in.

So what's so terrible about us wanting to survive? Obviously, we aren't going to survive if we intermarry with everyone else and raise our kids as just a muddle of everything. Our only route to survival is for Jewish people to marry Jewish people and bring their kids up as good Jews.

Of course, if a girl from a non-Jewish family decides she wants to join the Jewish people, well, what's stopping her? But we don't push that sort of thing, because, first of all, we're not out to push our thing on others. You can be a righteous non-Jew and be loved by G‑d, so why should we push you down a path you weren't born into? You may well resent it later on -- as often happens -- and that doesn't make for a good marriage. And, secondly, some people become Jewish just for the sake of marriage, and then once they're married, the whole thing is dropped. Which means we have to be a little scrutinous about accepting converts, to be sure they're doing this because they truly want to.

I hope this explains things a little for you. If you still can't swallow it, please write me back.

I wish you all the wonderful things your life has in store, not one should go missing.


Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Discussion (690)
July 18, 2016
I am not a rabbi. Please forgive me for answering anyway.
If I understand correctly, "nations" refers to anyone who is not Jewish. This usage was based on the fact that it seemed to the Jews that we were a people, even though most of us lived in the Diaspora--that is, we were dispersed among the nation instead of living most in our own "land" and did not govern our own "land". To us this meant that we Jews were no longer a "nation" and that everyone else was a "nation".
I realize that, because of the slave trade, there is also a black diaspora now. However, there are still black nations which govern themselves. I.e., black people have nations. But even if black people did not have any nations, I am confident that the Talmudic dictum that "the righteous of all nations have a portion in the World to Come" is intended to include all people. The point of the statement was to include everyone.

The question is not who is a nation, but rather, Who are "the righteous"? The righteous do not persecute Jews, and do obey the Seven Noachic laws.
James
Chicago
July 18, 2016
Why Jews exclude no Jews?
For 15 years I was a vegan, happily! I met my wife, who was a troglodite when it came to diet! If there was not a blood dripping steak on a pate it was not food! 35 years later, i am no longer a functional vegan, and have had to tolerate beast meat , most men follow the " guidance" of their wives!., Jewish man who marry non Jewish women also tend to be " guided" by the wife's subtle hints, not to mention Mother in laws interference. I mean opinions! especially when it involves a child's religious rearing ! Some , but not most ,Jewish men lead in raising their children in a Jewish tradition! Even in Judaism , the Mother has that religious ! Responsability! Therefore there are two realities, if a man wants his children raised in Judaism, he should marry a Jewish woman, or an non Jewish woman who both their mother and they have no religious inclination! The second concern is to decide if they have any responsibily to ensure the religion presists!
Howie
Ma
July 18, 2016
Dear Curious
I am not a rabbi.
What I observe is, black people are people.
Some members of my congregation are black people. Their parents or grandparents became Jews by attending classes & getting immersed in the mikveh [pool], so these are born Jews.

But the Talmud says "the righteous of all nations have a portion in the World to Come." Being Jewish is unnecessary. Nobody is damned forever. Nobody inherits sin from Adam & Eve. Everyone is born innocent. We can be tempted, we may sin, but anyone can repent. If you or I or anybody sins, we can realize it tonight, regret it, and resolve not to behave that way any more. If you or I avoid that sin forever after, we are totally forgiven. So we gradually have fewer sins. Most people need to be cleansed in Gehinnom, but for less than one year. A very few are totally righteous but you and I will likely spend at least an hour or a month or a few months in Gehinnom before our souls enter Paradise. The difference? Non Jews have fewer commandments to keep.
Francis
Brooklyn
July 18, 2016
Curious
I like your reply, Rabbi. You do not make others feel hopeless because they are not Jews. However, I am interested to know your views on how the black people fit into the plan of salvation and which people you include in your understanding of "nations."
Anonymous
July 15, 2016
Yes, I am happy that my son married a girl who loved keeping kosher and keeping Shabbat and dovening (praying) every morning, and that her two children know the prayers and go to a Jewish school. I am also happy that my brother's daughter's fiance converted and that their two children are so loving and joyful. I am happy that my grandchildren and my brother's grandchildren are not missing out on the tremendous spiritual experience of Torah and mitzvos. I have Christian friends whom I love honor cherish and respect. My grandchildren, however, should not miss out on their own Jewish heritage, which is what would happen if one of their parents were not able to identify with Torah and mitzvos. A Christian is a fine thing to be. If she cannot identify with Jews and become a Jew, then she needs to marry another Christian and be what she is, instead of trying to fit in with what she indeed is not.
Micaella
Boston
July 12, 2016
Shoshana, you may be right. Maybe those who want us to intermarry are really
asking, "Why do Jews still exist?"

It is indeed a miracle that Jews still exist. There is no other nation from ancient times which still retains its identity.

The reason Jews still exist is that Gd called the Children of Israel to Mt. Sinai and asked us to serve Gd through Torah, and the Children of Israel said, "We will do and we will listen." We promised to accept the Torah, and Gd promised to enable us to continue to exist.

Gd has kept that promise, and the faithful remnant of the Children of Israel have also kept that promise and will continue to keep that promise. But in order to keep it, we must rear our children to keep Torah--and teaching children to keep Torah requires TWO Torah-keeping parents.

Jews accept and include all kinds of other people.

Marriage is more than acceptance. Marriage is children, and
Jewish children need to learn Torah from TWO Jewish parents who keep Torah so that Gd's miracle can continue.
Benjamin
Brooklyn
July 5, 2016
Depends on the family
As a Christian woman engaged to a Jewish man, I had to comment that I think it all really depends on the family/Jewish people. Some are more accepting of others. From the minute I walked through his door I felt this false sense of acceptance by them. Like, they were just trying to be nice to me and supportive of him, but I wasn't what they really wanted for him. This became more obvious over the years and especially when our child was born. I've watched his grandmother completely ignore our child but gush over her other (Jewish) child, who was not even there, the entire time. I did confront them about this and now they label me the intolerant one. Can not win. I have never made anything close to the remarks I have heard them make. I have sat at their High Holiday celebrations and tried to understand what was going on every second of it while they sat and threw the word "gentile" around. . I am NOT a gentile, a goy, a shiksa or a "non" anything. I'm an American woman who is Christian.
Anonymous
Broomall
June 20, 2016
Daniel's answer is very good and also anonymous Ohio
You asked why people say Jews exclude other people but they never say it about Christians? And why they only call Jews who don't want to intermarry "racists" and not Christians? Also, being that we are, as said here, less than one quarter of a percent of the world's population, why on earth should anybody care what we do anyway?

So I'll tell you the reason. It's because they can't stand that even that less than a quarter of a percent of us still exists. After all they have done the past two thousand years to wipe us out altogether, and we dare to still exist?

So they want us to intermarry because they know that that will finish us off completely, G-d forbid. But that will never happen.
The Nation that stood at the foot of Har Sinai will always exist. Am Yisroel Chai.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
June 18, 2016
The question assumes an error. It is not true that Jews
In the Christian "New Testament" Paul says, "Be not unequally yoked to nonbelievers". Nobody asks "why Christians reject other people".
A family must be spiritually united to attain spiritual depth. Whenever I meet anyone reared in "both religions" I'm saddened to see that s/he accepts neither religion.

When people want to marry, they must realize that someday, when children come, their mutual desire is not enough. They will care what the children are taught. The time to decide is before the children come. Will the man become a Christian? The children are not Jews unless the mother is a Jew. Or will the mother become a Jew, to cause the children to be born Jews? If the mother is a Jew, she & her children are born with a soul that stood at Sinai and promised to keep the 613 commandments of the Torah. It is best if the father, as a Jew, helps teach the children.

Most Jews include "other people" as friends, neighbors, coworkers, kin, etc. & invite them into our lives & our homes.
Daniel
Brooklyn
June 9, 2016
Exclusion
People of all races choose to include or exclude whomever they want to, for whatever reason they choose. I see it often within the same race, or ethnic group, and this may very well be where it starts-within one's own racial group of origin. As you age it begins to be more obvious that every racial class does this, on different levels, religious or not. As for what I know, the scriptures of both Christians and Jews do not accept exclusion of any kind--unless the person they are excluding is breaking the Laws of G'd (which Christians are commanded to follow also.)
Anonymous
N/A