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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.
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Discussion (586)
August 20, 2015
To Lupree in Spain
I do not hate you. I do not think any Jews "hate" you.

If you want to marry a Jew, you need to encourage the Jew to keep kosher and to keep the Sabbath. The best way to encourage this is to be a Jew yourself, by converting.

If you are an atheist, think again. What "god" is it that you disbelieve in?

Maybe the Jews also disbelieve in that "god".

Some Jews use the word "god" for the Life Force.
Some use the word "god" for the totality of Existence, within and beyond the universe.
The important thing is not what you call Gd, but that you are willing to keep Torah mitzvos. You can keep those regadless of what you believe. If you love him/her, you will be willing to keep the Torah mitzvos and to avoid worshipping any other "gods" from other religions.

If you don't love him enough to keep Torah mitzvos, then you don't love him very much. You are better off to marry someone who shares your own opinions and practices. Jews are not rejecting you. You are rejecting Torah, and that's OK.
Sonia
New Orleans
August 19, 2015
to Lupeee Spain
First of all nobody hates you. If you say you are an atheist, though, I am really sorry for you.

What do you mean, "prohibit me to be with a Jew?' If you mean to marry one, yeah, it's fair that it's prohibited, for the reasons given in the above article.

Anyway, there are so many peoples in the world, why do you have to marry a Jew ?
Shoshana
Jerusalem
August 18, 2015
What if I respect entirely the Jewish history, believes and everything. Even I would like to have some classes about Jewish history.
But I do not want to convert to judaism, not because i do not appreciate them, if not because I am atheist.

Is fair that other jews can hate me for that, and prohibited me to be with a jew?
lupeee
Spain
August 13, 2015
Beautifully said!!
Susan Elizabeth
August 10, 2015
Still the question lingers, what is it to be Jewish! The "10% who are referred to as the real Torah followers, seems to claim they are the inheritors of the covenant! Bronze aged reasoning as recorded in the book, were appropriate for the age it was written. Jews through out the ages , have morphed their older cultural practices , to adapt to the times, or cultures they found themselves forced to live next to. Judaism continued even with near cultural absorption .the premise is correct, Jews marrying non Jews , usually results in their Children lost to the faith. But what should be added is why it happens. To the 10% , there are still 90% of us who feel and identify as Jewish, just not from the 15th century.
Howie
Ma
August 8, 2015
west bank
The Jewish people are gods chosen people is not right they. Are just defending the land that god gave them
terry stone
mn. usa
June 28, 2015
For Anonymous
Yes I am.
Tzvi Freeman
June 27, 2015
Addressing the original questioner above
She says, "Am I really that terrible?"
NO. You are fine. Not terrible. Not the least bit bad.
It's not about you personally.
It's about the survival of Gd's Torah covenant.
The Jews are the only ones in the world who live by the Torah.
Not all Jews, unfortunately. Only about ten percent of Jews live by the Torah.
But at any time, any Jew, including your boyfriend, can return to living by the Torah.
If he marries a convert, for example, she would almost surely encourage him to return to a Torah lifestyle. If YOU converted and began keeping a kosher kitchen and observing Friday night and Saturday as Shabbat, your husband would surely be influenced to keep kosher and to keep Shabbat.

But if you did not convert, then the chances are that a Jew who married you would never again consider keeping kosher or keeping Shabbat.

Almost certainly his children would not return to Torah. He and his descendants would be lost to Torah forever.

But if you converted, you'd keep him faithful.
Helena
Richmond
June 27, 2015
Re: Anonymous June 23rd…Filling Vacancies of Souls
Regardless of our status as a Jew or non-Jew; these ideas are comfortable with our soul. Regardless of who invented these things, Jew or non-Jew; they are pleasing to nearly anyone. There is a part in our souls that of nearly all of us have such that these contributions sit well with our souls. We don’t like these things just because they are accredited to the Jews. We like them because our Creator made a spot in our heart for them. Take for instance the invention of controlled fire. Controlled fire probably predates even Abraham, the first Jew. I argue that Gd placed a special part in our souls that intrigued us about fire; making us ponder if we could use fire for a good purpose, such as to sterilize, to cook (there are many reasons), or even bad purposes, such as to torture. Jews and non-Jews see things in nature that spark ideas, such that we try to make them useful to us.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
June 23, 2015
"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." Wonderful! I hope you are not saying that until the jews came along these values were non-existent.
Anonymous
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