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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 (721)
November 29, 2016
Education in response to Shoshana
Shoshana, I am sorry that you are upset by people wanting to know "what or why" Jewish people do things. I stumbled across this conversation while reviewing some student papers about death and dying in cultures other than their own backgrounds. It is a class assignment to help nursing students learn about other cultures and how best to provide care for people of other cultures. I found this site when I was attempting to verify some of the information in student papers.
Not everyone is questioning for the same reason. I thought that I would offer my reason, because you asked.
Lynn
PRESCOTT
November 26, 2016
Tzvi, you have always had an awesome way with words. Thank you.
sandy price
Phoenix
November 25, 2016
Yes, Shoshana, they have plenty of people they can marry. So what do they care
who we marry? Why do they insist that we all marry Non Jews so that all our children will be non Jews and there will be no more Jews?

And they say we are rejecting them? They are rejecting our very existence, demanding that we disappear.

Why? Are they a tiny minority who cannot find mates unless they marry Jews? Obviously they are the majority and they have plenty of fellow-Christians that they can happily marry without worrying about the attitudes of their in-laws.

Or,if they love us so much, let them join us and keep the covenant of Sinai with us.
Shmulie
Brooklyn
November 25, 2016
Why Jews....
Shoshana, the reason I think that non Jews, and some Jews as well, are troubled , is as a consequence for exactly what Judaism's teaches, and tries to live by. The Love of G-d, and the Golden Rule. Other Nations have never lived up to such a highly demanding obligation. Jews , in spite of all the Thousands of years , Of the best attempts of the ? Guilt ridden, have failed to destroy , furthers their guilt. It is un human for any group , for so long a period of time, under such extreme persecution , to not only survive , but thrive! And yet continue to share that love with the very antagonists that persecute ! As a Jew, I wish peace and love for the world! I don't believe Judaism demands or requires anything from other Nations! We are required , by The Covenant to be a beacon , a light! Not a force to push others to do anything! No other human philosophy seems to offer such a mission! I've read all the Philisophic, Theocratic, ethical, and political explanations! They are inadequate!
Howie
Ma
November 25, 2016
I'm still offended
Maybe you didn't read the entirety of every comment because Shoshanna was the one who referred to a gentile as a goy/im a couple of times.

You do not need be concerned about my bp. I have a very low bp, so the likelihood that this would raise my bp is very unlikely.

I think it is very obvious why Jews are still a minority after the religion has existed for so many years. It is very clear that you are not the most accepting group of people. Evident by the responses here and from personal experience. How can you grow your congregation if you're so unaccepting?

It's not unlikely for a Jewish family to disown a member of its family. Isn't that a major part of the premIse in The Fiddler in the Roof? I think it's just a part of your culture.
Melissa
November 24, 2016
Please explain why
Just out of curiosity, if some of you have so many problems dealing with this Jewish stuff, so many problems that you seem (maybe I'm mistaken) to be angry and aggravated and maybe your blood pressure is going up (G-d forbid), so why do you keep going into this website? What do you need it, or us, for anyway?

We Jews are a tiny tiny minority, hardly a dot on the map. We compose less than 1/4 percent of the world's population and I think only %2 of the population of the USA. So why do you care what we do or say anyway?

I understand that minorities can be really problematic. Like the Muslem "minority" that is invading Europe, raping and murdering and destroying their hitherto good life. Or the Arab "minority" that as I'm writing these words, is trying to burn down our country, G-d forbid.

But we Jews are sitting here not harming anyone, contributing whatever we can, to medicine, science, etc. but some of you never seem to give up
Shoshana
Jerusalem
November 23, 2016
Melissa I've read the previous 50 posts. I do not see one post from a Jew using the
word you complain about to indicate anything undesirable.

I see one post from a woman who says she is a Christian and that she feels unwelcomed by her Jewish in-laws, who use the word in her presence. Is that the source of your ire?
Would it help if most of us remarked that some of our best friends are Christians? Or black? Or Asian? Or Latino? I know that these friends are real.

I don't hear the word used any more. It used to refer to violent drunken ignorant murderers fired up by the state to destroy us in pogroms--the only nonJews our grandparents in their tiny villages ever saw. That's how the word entered Yiddish. Some men in 1919 murdered my granny (a beautiful young mother, age 25) & in '23 murdered my great-grandmother, & Jew-killers still exist. Today Jews grow few via intermarriage.

At a workshop, a woman of German descent asked me to forgive her. For what? I said there was nothing to forgive. She never harmed any Jews.

I miss my Jewish son's beloved Christian grandma.
Chanah bas Cohen
Houston, Tx
November 23, 2016
Re: Melissa
By definition I have come to see the maxim that, “If it is Jewish, then it has to be good.” What you are going through now is as a tributary, a stream, mixing in with a river of Jewishness. Navigating, these mixing currents is what you are experiencing now. It can lead to frustration, and even temper tantrums, which I believe that is this problem's source.
What I recommend is for you to pick yourself up, dust off any dirt, and get back at facing the problems that may separate you by changing your viewpoint of them to a Jewish viewpoint. For instance, if you have encountered what seems to be wickedness in Judaism, you may be correct. However, Jews also set a place at Passover for the wicked son with the hope that love will win over wickedness.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
November 23, 2016
To those who are saying Goyim means "nations":
Well, the word fag means a bundle of sticks, but it's still a derogatory term isn't it? The same thing goes for Goyim or Goy - you weren't using the term to refer to nations were you? You were using it to refer to a non-Jew. I'm so sick of the double standards!
Melissa
November 22, 2016
Love and peace to you too, Scott, & to all nations and creeds who advocate avoiding murder
I said to would-be Jews that the rabbi will teach them to "live Jewishly & pray in Hebrew...to love Gd, love Torah, love other Jews, love strangers, love the Land of Israel." "Must" means that IF that promise is made, Gd holds the promiser accountable if s/he decides not to bother keeping it. Those who are born of a Jewish mother promised at Sinai to love Gd, and the rest. Anyone can make that promise now and be similarly accountable if s/he decides it's inconvenient to keep it. Keeping it means keeping most of the 613 Torah commandments.

Those who don't make the promise to uphold all the 613 Sinaitic Torah commandments (including love) are included in another promise--Noah's--to keep the seven simple laws of decency...no murder, no robbery, & so on. everyone, Jewish or not, is accountable for keeping these seven.

"Heavy"--Torah's commitments are serious. Promise to keep them if you desperately want Torah. Others, being "saved" without Torah, can and should avoid making vain promises.
Moses
New York City