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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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The Editors via chabadone.org April 23, 2017

Comments closed Dear Readers,
At this time we feel that all that needed to be said on the subject has been said. We've received over 700 comments on this post.
Thank you to those who have contributed to the discussion. Feel free to contact us via the feedback button above if you have questions. Reply

Jonah Boston March 15, 2017

You are mistaken when you say we We are not concerned with faiths. We don't tell people of other faiths not to intermarry. That's up to them.

As the rabbi says, we care what we are.
Regardless of belief or behavior or faith, a people who are born Jewish or become Jewish after birth, are Jews. That's their identity forever. They are persons whose souls stood at Sinai & accepted Torah, whatever their "faith."

A person also is a marriage partner. The spouse is the person's other half. The spouse is an essential part of what we are. Not of our "faith" but of what we are.
If a Jew marries a non-Jew, then an essential part of what each spouse id, is alien to him/herself. Half of the united person stood at Sinai and promised to keep Torah. The other half of that same person is alien to that covenant. For each, half of their essential self is alien to their other half.

They experience this as seeing that their essence will never be understood by their other half.

That is rough. But, that's what happens. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem March 15, 2017

living together in peace It would be beautiful if all humans could live together in peace.
But first, Muslims have to stop murdering all those who are not Muslims. They are murdering the Christians in their countries as well as other Muslims who do not believe as they do. Have you heard about this slaughter that is going on?

And the Christians in Europe have to stop supporting the Muslims who are trying to wipe out the State of Israel and her six million Jews. The EU is sending gigantic amounts of money to support illegal building by terrorist groups within the heart of Israel. Have you heard about this?

The problem is that the basis of many religions is that if you are not their religion you are condemned to eternal hell and that it is proper to kill you out either by beheading, like the Muslims are doing today, or burning alive at the stake, like during the Spanish Inquisition, or murdering like during the Crusades and the pogroms, or gas chambers, etc. or the more "refined" actions of the EU today. Reply

teto March 9, 2017

I believe that with much respect Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all humans can live together in peace. We share a lot of similarities ! Thanks for the explanation Reply

Mel March 8, 2017

I get it... you don't believe that people of different faiths should intermarry. Your religion is fundamentally against it; however, it is not okay to mistreat another member of the family just because they're not Jewish or married into your Jewish family. If you choose to write off your child for marrying outside their religion then that is on you. I can't get behind that. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem March 6, 2017

Dear Friends - I grew up in a community in the U.S. that was about half Jewish (secular), half non-Jewish. From kindergarten through high school we went to public school together, got along beautifully and were really good friends. But there was a red line that could not be crossed and that was interfaith dating.
I remember when all the local rabbis, priests and ministers got together to form a committee to try to figure out a way to stop intermarriage, which none of them wanted. That was in the middle 50's. No one was angry, no one was insulted, no one called names.
Today our vision has become blurry. Everybody's got to be the same, to blend into one mush. I even read an article that in some cities in China they are tearing down many ancient buildings and rebuilding modern ones and soon there will be nothing left of that beautiful culture. Why?
And why should we Jews tear down our beautiful ancient culture,a family going back 4000 years, to Abraham, Issac and Jacob?
Why should anybody? Reply

Chaim Buffalo March 5, 2017

All groups are special, in various ways.

Every group should claim its own specialness. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem March 4, 2017

Dear Friends - in answer ot your questions: The basis for the Jewish opposition to intermarriage is the Biblical prohibition in Deut. 7:3. Reply

Howard Ma February 23, 2017

Jewish separateness Reine! Jews comprise less than .5% of the world's population! In spite of the European actions, and obvious continuous thoughts ,just as you are expressing, our numbers remain stable . Turn around, look at the much larger groups that are a threat to peace! The ones causing world disruption, hatred , war! If you can't see that Jew's philosophy is different from most others, again not better, just oriented , by adherence to Theology of compliance to the Creator's laws. If you say that those laws are constructed by man, why does it bother so many? Do you attack Vegaterians? Cargo cult followers? The answer is to clear for most to believe! Why would so much world energy be spent attacking such a small group of people whose proven Humanity is undeniable ! You are absolutely correct! War is evil, wrong, should be prohibited ! Except for the fact that some in our worked are not Humanity oriented! Self defense is a right of all organisms ! Who is the "us " to which you reference? Reply

Reine Dyrstad February 16, 2017

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People? To Shoshana.
To claim "chosenness" and "specialness" for oneself is pride ! Is it not ? The story about the receiving of the Torah, wher the jewish theory claim that everybody else said no to G-d is in a way belittleing the rest of the "nations". Separating the "chosen" from the not "chosen". You claim that I said no to G-d ?
The jewish theory has directly lead to Christianity and Islam. They also want to be "chosen", so they invent their own form of "chosenness". They envied the jews, and made their own continuation on the jewish divisiveness. In their divisiveness they did all these things you mention; inquisition, pogroms, crusades, Holocaust. All direct consequences of the jewish divisive idea; Some people are "special". Stop this division into "chosen", "special".
The Torah is, what to say, quite a book. Where G-d slaughter and erase, kill and destroy. Punish and burn bushes.
And the jews said yes and all others no ?
Join us instead ! We are unity ! G-d is one. We are one Reply

Reine Dyrstad February 16, 2017

To Craig.
I have one rule: love. Love is forgiveness. I was looking for a way to unite the peoples of this world. I do not see "a G-d" in Rabbi Manis Freeman. I see him separating the people of this world. He even states that the jewish theory in fact has a lot about the jewish people being above the rest. The job at hand may be to "Be a light to all the nations", to follow more rules than the goyim or whatever. The division, with word like "chosen", "special", "All others said no to G-d, but the jewish did not" is in effect to elevate oneself and indirectly lower the others.
Many people has cut me some slack, and I try to live as a good person. I try to forgive, to live and let live as much as I can. What we discuss here is theory ! The jewish theory of division ! You write"I encourage you to at least try look past the sins that are between yourself and other people." What makes you think I do not try ? I try so hard I even try to find out what makes people so diverted and separated. Reply

Reine Dyrstad February 16, 2017

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People? To Howard.
I think that the military is ung-dly. If we humans could get rid of all the divise thinking and acting, we would not need the military. And, is not every soldier supposed to follow the same standard ? Do you even create a diversion here also with different standards for different types of soldiers ?
Is the jewish theory of divisiveness a source of agression and violence ? I think yes. The idea that some people are "chosen" is a large contributor to violence in this world. Hence need for military ? With the divisions therein ? Who will be saved at the point of peril ? The private soldier or the general ? Is the general more worth ? Have you heard about the job og being "canonfodder" ? Your examples just illustrates the enourmous problems that appear when someone is "special" or not. War is division, is it not ?
Which grade in the military is the jew ?
And which is the goyim ?
Which grade in your ex. is the "divine soul" ?
Violence is a result of division. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem February 14, 2017

Jacob - Brooklyn - Feb.8 -2017 Your comment is excellent. You are probably the only one here with any brains in his head (except me). Though I must say that Craig Hamilton on Feb. 13 also made a very good point. Jacob said exactly what I am always wondering: what on earth do they care what we do?

Further more, it is always the Jew who is out to help the next one. Who led the Civil Rights movement in States so that the (Negroes, Blacks, American Africans) (I don't know what they call themselves today) should have the equal rights they deserve, no matter what color their skin?
And helping poor and sick people no matter what their religion or skin color?
But the intermarriage question seems to bother many of you. So you should be happy to know that %70 of our people have already married out and are lost to Judaism, thanks to the reform and conservative movements. But it seems to bother the anti-Semites that %30 of us have the nerve to continue to exist. We "cursed" Jews are still here and fighting. Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA 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 Reply

Mel 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. Reply

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? Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem 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. Reply

Reine Dyrstad 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. Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Jacob Brooklyn 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? Reply