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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 (513)
July 5, 2014
Okay.....here's a hard one.
Why not just give up being Jewish?
Sean
July 4, 2014
To Avi
Avi,

People like you are selfish and only care about their own feelings and their own desires so much so that they're willing to easily throw away their own family and grandchildren simply because that child went against their personal desires. You could place the blame back on the parents and Jewish communities that were unable to keep the Jewish people in line. It's that kind of thinking that turns people off from religion and why so many Jewish people are intermarrying. If you love your child why would you shun them and their spouse for no other reason than the other person is not of the same faith as you? I don't think G-d likes seeing any of his children hurt whether they're Jewish or Christian. If you want someone to convert to your religion then you shown them how good your religion is by the way you behave and treat people and that will draw them in. I'm certain that being shunned will only further alienate the couple even away from the Jewish religion.
Melissa
birmingham
July 3, 2014
The human race wants to survive.
It can do so by respecting each other's groups.
We don't say to someone, "I like you only if you have no group to belong to."
We don't say to them, "I like you only if you join my group."
We like everyone as long as they don't attack us.
And we like hundreds of people, but we (hopefully) marry only one.
That one must be totally intimate with us.
So it's best if that one already has a lot in common with us.
Statistics say that when Protestants marry other (different) Protestants, that already predicts a failed marriage.
When Protestants marry Catholics, the odds of a good marriage fall even more.
And when Christians marry non-Christians, the odds fall even more.
A Jew does a disservice to a Christian to take him away from a Christian family.
When my mother-in-law offered her son bacon, and he said, "But Ma, I'm a Jew now," I saw how that hurt her. She was silent. I said, "You ate it before!" She said, "Thank you!"
Let Jews wed Jews.
Miriam
Boston
July 3, 2014
Assumption, this discussion was about the presumed snobbery of Judaism . The kumbayah approach works well in Star Trek's Federation of the future, but so far in this reality, no so well! Go tell a Lion not to eat Lambs! All people will get together when Gd wills it. Not by feel good repeatedly failed human interventions! READ HISTORY!! Man's goals are not so honorable, as you state, at least again history would demonstrates the weakness in huggs and kisses approach to gain peace. Discuss your love approach with those that HATE, AND RECENTLT KILKED 3 JEWISH students! You may find a less than welcomed response from them! If you are Jewish, you have missed the philosophy! If not, you obviously don't have the back ground to suggest Jewishness is no different than this weeks popular soda flavor, rock Star's dubious life style philosophy! The Golden Rule is a good place to start, but does not require the abandonment of Jewish practice. Now who is a jew is another bone of issue!
Howard
Ma
July 3, 2014
Difference is not superiority
Jews were created for a specific purpose & we are to share G-d's wisdom with the nations. We remain small in part so that G-d's miracles can be seen. If we assimilate & the world becomes a melting pot, G-d's greatness would be hidden. Example: 6 day war. Throughout history we have maintained a certain "constant demographic." Are Jews better than non-Jews? Of course not. We have our criminals and our pious like any other nation. Our purpose is different. I might hear the equality argument. We do not seek converts, but anyone who sincerely wants to become a Jew can do so through conversion. The door is open for sincere people. Judaism presents 2 ways to "heaven" - one for the Jew & one for the non-Jew. A Noahide has 7 laws & approximately 66 elaborations. It is G-d's law that separates us and His will is perfect. We are restricted from some Noahide activities and they are restricted from some Judaism activities. This structure is G-d's will - period - not prejudice.
Shoshana
July 2, 2014
Question to the rabbi
Assumption :
If human race has to survive : a non Jew and a Jew have to mix up… will moral law be more suitable for the sake of human survival ?

The goal of the human race is to become more peaceful to each other.
Language, religion have brought genetic division in population, geographic division in the world and human acceptance.
The objective is to evolve united for the sake of the human race and the earth survival.
We should focus more on moral law and balanced behavior to become one global community.
Breaking barriers, using culture difference as our ability to share global knowledge instead of competition advantage. Creating something new that overwhelm religion, current democracy, currency.
We have the technology to break weather barrier, heal people, travel faster.
We do not have found a worldwide community model yet.

Positive thing about torah are spirituality and human values, why should it be restrictive, protective ? those limits bring negativity.
Anonymous
Nice
June 30, 2014
Is it wrong for a woman to object to being attacked? Or, "worse," to defend herself?
That's the kind of thinking that leads to impunity for battering husbands and for rapists. I'm surprised to see such thinking being advocated by a woman, and using a quote from the gospels to uphold it.
Kristina
Indianapolis
June 29, 2014
An Eye for an Eye!
As I understand the meaning of that phrase, it means , in the eyes of the law, looking for ultimate justice, the worst punishment an offender can be given, is no greater than the injury they caused! Not an eye must be taken in retrobution for a lost eye! Also, if the eye was lost, not by an act of malice , no physical harm is necessary to the perpetuator! Man's nature, is not totally good , nor bad, but with out guidance, we are sure to be lead by emotions, an eye for an eye,revenge ! Rather than justice! !
Howie
Ma
June 28, 2014
Melissa
So in the world of Melissa if you disapprove of a spouse, you do not love your child?
Abraham was commanded by G-d to sacrifice his own son Isaac. Because he didn't love his child? Or because he was the dearest thing to him ? I do not concur that the disapproval of a child's spouse equates to not loving he or she.On the contrary, it is the love of both that child and love of ones people that may result in rejecting a marriage. You trivialize us by saying that our opposition to intermarriage is a matter of not loving our children. It is matter of family , love and wish to fulfill our commandments that we do so in the face of love and perhaps much personal pain when our children do fail us. But its a lot easier for people to accuse us of blood libel , all the world's evils and now, hating our own children.
Shame on them!
Avi
Eilat
June 28, 2014
To Melissa
First of all , who are you to lecture Jews on how to survive thousands of years ? If you pardon us, we would like to continue to survive for another few thousand years. One of our rules is that a Jewish child must marry another Jew. This keeps the Jewish family whole and ensures our survival as a people. The other side of the coin is if this gentile woman or man that wants to marry a Jew, I would think looking outside the box and make the noblest decision possible is in order. I love you but why would I want to bring such distress to your family . That is what she / he should ponder before contemplating marriage to a Jew since apparently the Jew in question has lost his compass.For Jews,marriage is not just marrying a spouse,its embracing family as well. Slapping the family in the face is a poor way to consummate what is supposed to be a holy union.The gentile spouse has the option to convert in earnest. You do not share Jewish values.
Avi
Eilat
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