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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 (580)
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
June 11, 2015
John! What world are you referring to? Dress in garb that identifies you as Jewish in any Muslim country , and minimally you will be verbally assaulted ! Being married to a Jew would be the end of your life! Ideally the golden rule is all that is needed , but it has failed to establish peace. If hidden in the Koran is acceptance of non Muslims in any category , it is only with the intent of conversion. Infidel means one who has been exposed to Muslim teachings, and refuses to convert. The obligation of every Muslim is to "kill" infidels! Stop the delusion of the Muslim religion as peaceful . That is like saying Nazis were a law abiding group. They only killed when the " law" allowed it! Whether or not Jews are prejudicial , as a topic next to that, is a minuscule issue. One the Muslims choose to maintain their belief system by exterminating oppositional view points. The other, Jewish, chooses separateness as the method of choice to insure its existence! not equivalent!
Howie
Ma
June 11, 2015
Jphn
Go to Israel and find out how Jewish wives are treated by their Muslim husbands. Maybe you can even read the stories here and don't need to make the trip. The ones who are lucky enough to escape tell the story. The mother-in-laws usually join in the tortures. I'm talking about Jewish women who converted to Islam.
Leah
New York
June 10, 2015
Some one said something about Islam and chopping off heads and getting married to non Muslims.

Muslim men are allowed to marry a Jewish or Christian woman without converting to Islam but only because all are people of the book. Hindus and Buddhists are not allwed unless they convert.
John
Nyc
June 4, 2015
Rebecca
According to Chabad , converts are among the most revered among Jews. They made the choice as adults knowing the many obligations that are entailed. Judaism is not and never was an "instant coffee" religion. Unlike Christianity or Islam which requires nothing but a quick oath of sorts (in Christianity its to accept Jesus as your lord and savior instead of G-d, and in Islam is to accept Mohammed as your profit of the one and only G-d) Thats it- it can be over in a flash. In Judaism - they take these things more seriously. Do you know what you are getting into? How committed are you ? How much do you know about Torah ? This is a time consuming process , and a labor of love . Not a 2 minute "quickie" .
avi
Eilat Israel
May 31, 2015
to Sandman, Mar. 2015
Oh yeah? Islam accepts the right of a non-Islam to live? They'll chop off your head!
Leah
New York
May 28, 2015
To Rebekah
Of course gentiles are welcomed into the Jewish faith.

Come to services.

Come to Friday night dinner.

If you like being with us, if you want to be one of us, then take classes, and let yourself be witnessed going into the mikveh (a pool of living water), and enter the covenant. Some congregations take longer for this process than others. I know a congregation in Houston that takes one year; I know another that takes three years. Chabad takes longer than that. But you CAN be welcomed, as a guest or as one of the Children of Israel who stood at Sinai and accepted the Torah.

It's up to you. You ARE welcome, either way.

In addition, you can be welcomed as one of the Children of Noah.
Saul
Houston
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