Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
Contact Us

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

 Email

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 .
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (756)
February 13, 2017
Reine: On Divisiveness and chosenness
Computers are often made up of many things like processors, motherboards, RAM, hard drive, ports, keyboards, etc. The role of each part is divisive, but that doesn’t mean that it is not an essential part of the computer. The same is true in business, especially a chainstore will have a hierarchy of managers, janitors, truck drivers, cashiers etc. However, while their is most certainly a difference of pay between the roles, everybody knows when the cashiers don’t show up because they are so essential. Judaism has a hierarchy as well, such as king, priest, gender roles, and rabbi, etc. What you are getting into here is very dangerous stuff as the Ten Commandments teach not to covet (Exodus 20:14). We have a role. It is what it is. If you want to convert, then do so, but don't try to do kill the religion by teaching an idea similar if not identical to making a rule that everyone should serve as the High Priest at the same time, similar to the way it was with Korech and his company
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
February 13, 2017
Why is it okay to exclude?
If you read above you can tell that the question the person is asking is why do Jews exclude other people. I still have yet to get a response from anyone other than the answer listed above as to why it's okay to exclude or ostracize someone for marrying a person that is not the same religion as them. Can you please tell me why it is acceptable for you to ostracize your child's partner because they're not the same religion as you? When I gave birth to my son I realize that I have an unconditional love for him and my love for him would extend to anyone that he loves. Why is it that you are incapable of doing that same thing... giving your child unconditional love? I know in the future that my Gateway or bridge to my son will be through my daughter-in-law so it would be important to me to have a good relationship with her whether she's Jewish or Christian or whatever. Why is it okay to mistreat someone else just because they're not who you want them to be? That's the question.
Mel
February 13, 2017
Shoshana- are you talking insinuating that we're jealous of Jews for being the "chosen people?" Christian's were Jews before we became Christians. My Savior was a Jew.

The issue is... Why is it okay to exclude or ostracize someone for not being a Jew? Why are you incapable of giving someone the same love and acceptance you seek from others?
Mel
February 12, 2017
Chosen for what?
Commenters here seem to be bothered that Jews are the "chosen people". Did anyone stop to ask what we were chosen for? If so, the answer is: we were chosen to stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai and receive the Torah, follow it and be an example to the nations of the world. Until the time of Shem, Yeffet and Cham, anybody could have been chosen, but from the time of Shem, it was a given that it was him and the Jews are his descendants. Could any other nation have stood at Mt. Sinai and received the Torah? Yes. Before it was given to us, G-d asked every nation if they wanted it and they all said, "no". Even the founder of Christianity, many years later, said that one does not have to keep the Torah and publicly desecrated the Shabbos by making a paste and also changed it to Sunday. So what exactly did we do wrong? That we decided to continue observing the Torah? And a costly decision it has been-the Inquisition, pogroms, Crusades, Holocaust. Join us if you will.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
February 10, 2017
Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?
Chosenness is diviseve. (Tzvi)
Christianity and Islam are direct consequences of the jewish theory. Furthering the idea of division in their own way. The christians call everybody who do not believe the story about the torturing/killing of Jesus/G-d for lost/damned or so. The muslims don't want to be part of this killing of G-d, so they go back to the jewish way, but still easier to become part of the chosen/special ones/the saved/the ones on the inside of the theory. All these theories, triggered by the jewish theory are not diversity. They are division. Us - them.

The truth is that G-d is one! Diversity and division are two different things. Division is something manmade that excludes others. The point is to chose for oneself to do the job. God never chose a small group of people to do it.

People invented this choseness. Not G-d. Choseness is manmade and divisive. Blame the humans that made up this theory ?

To say that diversity and division is the same is misunderstanding both.
Reine Dyrstad
February 9, 2017
You said this well. I tried to explain it just this way to someone, about why we don't socialize more. I said, if you want to carefully pass down a tradition, you need to be extremely focused on your mission. Clarity means that each person finds what they truly need and gives what is truly needed.
Anonymous
February 8, 2017
Reine
There are two possibilities: The Torah was given by Gd, or, the Torah was written by humans.

If you believe that the Torah was given by Gd, then you have an issue with Gd, because the Torah says Gd gave it to the Children of Israel at Sinai.

If you believe that the humans wrote the Torah, then it doesn't matter what the Jews think. You can simply say the ancient Judeans somehow convinced each other that their Torah was from "their" Deity, while other people worshipped other deities. You can worship what you think is the "real" deity, & you can discount what these few--less than 1% of the world's people--falsely believe. What does it matter what we think? We are too few to matter, and our being "wrong" makes us matter even less. Go complain about what some Latin American tribe believes. Worship whoever you like & let us be foolishly wrong. Let us squeeze our toothpaste in the middle of the tube. We're too few to matter. Why should you care what we think? What's it to you?
Jacob
Brooklyn
February 8, 2017
Thank You
Dearest Rabbi Freeman,
Thank you for such a thoughtful discussion. What if we change Chosen to Responsible Ones. Choices are only ours when we forget to behave as one heart. One mind cannot hold the entirety of our thoughts, but One Heart beating as one can do anything. Ring those bells, for Leonard Cohen.

With Love and Radiance for all hearts.
Scott
Heartland
February 8, 2017
Is chosenness divisive? (Reine)
This is certainly the claim of the Catholic Church, and of Islam. Jonathan Sacks calls it "Plato's Ghost" in his book, "The Dignity of Difference."

The truth is that diversity is not divisive, and neither are distinct roles. If nobody is chosen to do the job, nobody does it. And anybody is the same as nobody.

I recall that someone once complained to the Rebbe in a private audience, "This idea of chosenness—it's not nice!"

To which the Rebbe replied, "Don't blame me. I wasn't the one who did the choosing."

Humanity is not a homogenous mush, it is a living organism with a mind and a heart, feet and hands. Each part has its role, and together they make a single whole.
Tzvi Freeman
February 7, 2017
Reine, as a Military Officer, during a leadership course, The class Was asked what' differentiates a Leader, Officer, from the Enlisted troops. The usual comments followed...better, brighter, specially, choosen, the comment from the instructor placed the significance of the assigned tilte of Officer, into prespective. The selected were choosen because the expectation of service to many others, not to be served! My interpretation of Jews as separate fall into the same category. Not morally better, not to be served, but to serve. As an Officer is required to meet higher Standards of behavior, So Do Jews! The world is devided by roles, teachers, Doctors , Police...not better, Jews who act properly , see their role as meeting G-d's intent , with the hope those with free will will also choose the righteous path . Non Jews have only to be decent humans. Jews are held to higher standards. That separates us from others , not by superiority , but by role , and concern for humanity!
Howard
Ma