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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 (475)
March 27, 2014
Why Jews exclude others..continued!
The Rabbi's comments referencing the right of a people to survive can have its limits. The radicals of the world have taken this to the absurd, resulting in the murder of innocents! Some have claimed Jew's insistance on exclusion is synominous with that murderous behavior. Jews think,because we living next to a non Jewish cultures, that the " others" understand Jewish philosophy, and its law based religious requirements. It is not true. We can be different by choice, a theme repeated to me as a young Orthodox, but need not be occult, unknown to the others we live with. If survival is the Rabbi's goal, the more we are understood by, and accepted by the others, the greater are chance for survival. Religious leaders role is to provide the continuity of the religion. Different time frames, cultures, require different responses to those base teachings . Rather than intolerance to the variations in "Jewish" lifestyle among Jews, a greater reach out tolerance is needed.
Howard
MA
March 26, 2014
Answer to your Question
Jews don't marry outsiders because as you see what the Rabbi says, they are afraid that they will not exist anymore.

Now to the real question, Jews say they are the Chosen Ones, Who chose you?

Another thing what does the Palestinians have to do with the Holocaust?
Allen Rosenburg
USA
December 26, 2013
People who do not tolerate other people's religious thoughts and/or practices
include, first and foremost, those who say that everyone who doesn't "accept" the Nazarene as their "lord and savior" is going to spend eternity in hell.

In Arabic there is a term for "unbelievers" which I will not dignify by repeating it here.

I have never heard or read anything from observant Jews saying that those who disagree with them will spend eternity in hell.

The "worst" I've heard from them is that Torah claims all Jews [defined as the children of a Jewish mataernal line & "converts"]. This means that Jews who violate anything in Torah, are, by definition, sinning. But sins are punished in Gehinnom (purgatory). The worst sinner is out of there & into Olam HaBa in 12 months.

Non-Jews are bound by the 7 Laws of Noah. Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says Hindus & Buddhists & others who obey the 7 laws get Olam HaBa even without having the Torah in mind.

All decent folks are ok!
Hymie
Cinncinnati
December 26, 2013
Rejecting Disconnection
Jews, as mentioned many times earlier, have a conversion process for people who would like to become a Jew. That said, we work off a connection to G-d, where G-d is the center of our world. Any disconnection from that is worshiping yezer ha'ra. Anyone "on the outside" trying to disconnect us from our way of life (even by trying to intrude) is asking us to bow to evil inclination. I can only speak for me - I refuse. Torah prohibits bigotry; I don't want to see it or hear it and the world is full of it. So I can only moderate how much and who I want in my life. I would never try to push someone else into something he/she doesn't want to do - people need to stop doing that to the Jews. It is our choice to live as we wish.
Shoshana
December 25, 2013
Chosen, misunderstood
The premise of this discussion was why Jews exclude others. The response was clear, but the question is at the foundation of why for so long The Jewish People have been singled out and attempts to destroy them , us, persists! I remain a non religious ! Very strongly Jewishly philosophically grounded person. The intolerance of my position, especially from the Orthodox, from who I first was introduced to Judaism till my Bar Mitzvah , lead me to my present position. I am not just a potato pancake Jew, but one who seeks to follow a humane life style, based on the secular components of my Jewish up bring. That said, if my own people shun my philosophical jewish path, how can I expect nonJews, with so much historical miseducation, and outright prejudicial behavior, understand any Jewish thought? Their observation has to be one that indicates ,Jews don't tolerate non Jewish thoughts, or Religious practices. Are they right?
Howard
MA
December 24, 2013
Shoshana
The Israeli government allows converts to come to Israel under the "law of return" and does not judge who did the conversions.

That fails to establish Reform and Conservative conversions as valid in the eyes of the orthodox.

If your purpose in converting is to become an Israeli citizen, by all means convert Reform. That way you don't have to uphold the Jewish way of life, and you do get to become an Israeli citizen, and you are free of orthodox constraints.

But if you want to be part of an ongoing way of life that will extend to your children and grandchildren, you might want to be aware that the current reality is that only orthodox Jews can encourage future generations to remain in the fold. Being brought up with a discipline has much to say for it, and being brought up to do as one pleases fails to extend the discipline over two generations, much less over more than two.

Facts are facts. Statistics are statistics. No guarantees, however.
Hymie
Cinncinnati
December 24, 2013
Howard
I knew about the Jews not being the first peoples to be presented Torah as a lifestyle. But your take on it is really lovely, especially this 'even a motley unworthy group of people' formulation of yours put such a big smile on my face. Sometimes it is this kind of slightly self-depreciating humor that we need to put things into proper perspective.
zeynep
December 24, 2013
"Choosen" misunderstood!

The comment, "Jews think themselves better, because they think G-d choose them", is misunderstood by non Jews! Revisit the Bible, reread the event, the Hebrews were a sorely group undisciplined, without ethical values. After presenting his requirements for a godly life to other peoples, who were unwilling to follow such a rigorous law based life style, the Hebrews agreed. I still can't understand why they did. The Jews were difinately the runner ups in this process, and not G-d's first choice. The burden has been great since. The covenant has brough both joy and tragedy! As a secular Jew, The ethical demands of Judaism, require thoughtful behavior, with concerns for consequences to self, and as important, others. I understand this covenant as not proof of superiority, a special "choose people", but as a beacon to others, that with effort, even a motley unworthy group of people, living an ethical life style,( following G-d's requirements) can improve the world.
Howard
Massachusetts
December 19, 2013
Craig
I fear I have been unclear. I wish you well, but I didn't say quite what you suggest I did.

Be well.
Hymie
December 18, 2013
conversions
In 1988 high court of Israel ruled all Conservative and Reform conversions are accepted as Jewish. A Jew is not a Jew b/c of level of observance. If that were the case the Torah would be filled with lessons from non-Jews. Hating each other b/c of labels is living in the spiritual realm that worships yetzer hara. Be very careful
Shoshana
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