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Why did G‑d give the Torah to the Jews? What does G‑d want from humanity as a whole? Why did He communicate with the Jewish people in a different way? Third in a six-part course on core Jewish beliefs.

What Jews Believe: The Jews

What Jews Believe: The Jews

Jewish Theology, Lesson 3


What Jews Believe: The Jews: Jewish Theology, Lesson 3

Why did G‑d give the Torah to the Jews? What does G‑d want from humanity as a whole? Why did He communicate with the Jewish people in a different way? Third in a six-part course on core Jewish beliefs.
What Jews Believe 3
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Jewishness; Jewish Identity
Questions for Discussion
1. How does our understanding of G‑d (Lesson 1) and Torah (Lesson 2) inform our understanding of Jewish identity (Lesson 3)?
2 How does a metaphysical definition of Jewishness differ from a cultural, racial, or even religious definition of a Jew?
3. What does Jewish “chosenness” really mean? When were we chosen, and how?

Further Reading:

By the Instructor
Cold Soup?
Texts Cited
Exodus 19:6
Universal Morality
What Makes a Jew “Jewish”?
Isn’t It Racist to Believe That Jews Are Special?
What Is Judaism?
Rabbi Manis Friedman, a noted Chassidic philosopher, author and lecturer, is dean of Bais Chana Women's Institute of Jewish Studies.
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lillian Butler Denver January 5, 2017

Why? I totally understand what you have said here...every time I listen to you Rabbi Manis Friedman i can relate to everything you are saying. Why couldn't have i been born a Jew? I know I'm a Jew in heart and soul. I ask that question every time i say the Shema daily.... Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein December 28, 2013

To Susan No person's soul is lacking, and every creation of G-d (i.e. everything and everyone) has a spark of the Divine within. The Torah teaches that G-d entered into a particular and special relationship with the people of Israel, that hinges on our acceptance of the Torah and fulfillment of it. Through our connection to the Torah we are able to relate to G-d and to reveal Him in the world in a unique way that is not possible for other peoples. Anyone who chooses can enter into this covenant with G-d through conversion according to the Torah's instructions, while anyone born into the Jewish people by having a Jewish mother is automatically a member of the covenant. This Jewish connection is not a matter of perfection, but a possibility of introducing into the world a level of divinity that is beyond what is natural for it. To do this, one must be specially empowered by G-d; it cannot be accomplished by our own full human capacities, since we cannot reach higher than ourselves. Reply

bat tang Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. December 25, 2013

I wish someone of the higher powers come to me and tell me the meaning or purpose of my existence, if any. Reply

zeynep December 12, 2013

To Bat Tang Sir, you must be suffering terribly... Reply

Susan Harwood England November 28, 2013

The Jewish soul First of all, Thank you Rabbi Friedman. Please forgive me if I have misunderstood what you said, but I feel rather upset (to put it mildly), if I am to believe that as a person with some mixed Jewish blood, rather than being a fully observant Jew, I may not have that "spark" of G-d within me. I am a practising Roman Catholic, but I also study Kabbalah and have always felt drawn to Judaism. I have always believed that all human beings have a soul which is the spark of the divine within us all. This being regardless of religion, race, belief in G-d or not, etc.etc. Please would you elaborate a little for me ? Does only a Jew have a complete soul? Are all the rest of us somehowl lacking something? Thank you again for your wonderful lessons. Reply

Bat Tang Edmonton, Alberta, Canada November 26, 2013

I have no comment but question. Did God asked my consent before my creation? If God could not do that then God has no justice of creating me. Reply

Lorie St. Petersburg, Fl November 26, 2013

Thank you for being here for me. Reply

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