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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 (699)
September 26, 2016
Goyim is a derogatory term. Why did you allow Shoshanna to refer to Christians by that term?!

Also, stop blaming the gentiles for muddling your bloodlines and ask yourself what you need to do to retain your people.

To Shoshanna:

The only thing I have left to say to you is....

Bless your heart!
melissa
Commerce Twp
September 26, 2016
to Oscar Shank
I read the pages you mentioned but don't see there that rabbis actively went out to convert goyim. It seems to be discussing the desire of goyin to convert and the welcoming attitude of the rabbis to accept them. The Kuzari is an excellent example of this, when the entire nation converted. But the king of Kuzari came to the rabbi to discuss Judiasm, the rabbi did not seek out this king.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
September 22, 2016
Shoshana

Well, for starters, in biblical times proactive conversion was by way of sometimes easy assimilation by outsiders since back in those days there was no distinction between the Hebrew nation and its religion. There's a six page essay on the matter of Jewish approaches to Conversion throughout history on the myjewishlearning web site. Check it out.

Of course, in the USA and all modern Western states, there's "separation of religion and state" so that a citizen , e.g., of America, is an American national no matter what his/her religion is, or even if he/she has no religion or is an agnostic or atheist.
Oscar Shank
USA
September 17, 2016
If you really want to, you CAN become a Jew
It is true that keeping the commandments is difficult for those who were not taught in childhood. This means that anyone who wants to become a Jew must be determined. Rather than convert and fail, the candidate needs to show the stick-to-it ability before converting. If s/he hangs in there & shows the grit and determination needed, s/he becomes a viable candidate who will indeed be able to keep the commandments. It helps if the candidate starts keeping some of the commandments right away, & demonstrates that s/he can follow the service in Hebrew (which takes some learning in order to do it), does the assigned reading, & relates to the local Jewish community. Affinity with the community is very important; some think it is every bit as important as doing the mitzvos. If the candidate sticks with it, s/he will succeed, but it will take at least two or three years, except in a modern orthodox community, where it may take only one year.
Josh
London
September 17, 2016
Oscar Shank-
Please document. When did Jewish leaders try to convert goyim? Names and dates, please.

All observant Jews accept the 613 mitzvos. But the rest, as we know, don't. So why does the Torah require this of a convert? Because if you are born a Jew, you are a Jew, but if not, and you want to join, it is normal to expect to be required to keep the laws of the religion. If not, why are you converting, and to what? Chopped liver, gefilta fish and some chicken soup?

Let's say someone wants to become an American, and the judge asks him, "Do you promise to keep the laws of the Land?" And he says, "No". So the judge says that they can't accept him. And he asks the judge, "Why not? There are plenty of American law-breakers, the jails are filled with them, and anyway, I fly a flag on the 4th of July and eat turkey on Thanksgiving so therefore I should be accepted, law-abiding or not" What do you think the judge should say?
Shoshana
Jerusalem
September 17, 2016
anonymous-Broomall-July 2016
I am sorry to read that your son is ignored by his grandmother, as this must hurt the child very much.

On the other hand, you are, as you said, an American woman who is Christian. This is certainly your right and you sound like a very fine person You were born Christian and Judaism is quite tolerant, to a certain extent, and does not require the whole world to be Jewish. But when it comes to accepting mixed marriages, there ends the tolerance. The Torah forbids intermarriage. Most Jewish parents want their grandchildren to be Jewish. This is something that a Christian has to consider before marrying a Jewish man.
In your case, it seems that you knew before you married your husband that his family would not accept this extreme violation of Jewish law.

But I do hope that they will be kinder to your child because this is not his fault at all.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
September 15, 2016
Historically, Jewish leadership occasionally was pro-active in soliciting new members from the Gentiles, as the Evangelical Christians always are, but most of history this has not been the case. Few Jews actually practice the 613 rule regime, but demands on converts are much higher. The resulting net result is a mask for ethnic purity in the tribe. It has worked well, this insular solidarity, as otherwise there'd be no Jews today. Tribal continuity is the Jewish G-d.
Oscar Shank
September 13, 2016
Gd is not racist!

Where did you get that idea?

Anyone of any race can become a Jew if he is persistent and demonstrates that he really wants to.
Jacob
Seattle
September 4, 2016
This guy's telling me that God is racist... for real Rabbai?
MaxPower
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