Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We're Jewish, Not Chosen

[Notes from Rabbi Friedman's Class: Night #1 at Bais Chana in Miami]

Is it acceptable that Jews get together to talk about how unique we are?

In fact, isn’t there something frightening about it?

Doesn’t that lead to war and pogroms?

You have to admit…

We’re different and unique, and we’re frightened by the idea. Especially with the way the German’s use it. Right away we think, “Nazis.”

On the other hand, it’s unacceptable to not know what makes you unique.

What if it turns out we have a truly unique mission? What will we do?

We’re concerned that if we’re better, we’ll be….abusive?

A non-Jew will ask a Rabbi, “What do you mean that you’re the chosen people?” The Rabbi will say, “It’s not that we’re better or higher, it’s that we’re chosen.”

Essentially he’s saying, “It could have been your grandfather or your grandfather…it just happened to be mine.”

People think chosen doesn’t mean inherently better.

But this is frustrating and insulting.

What are you trying to pull here?

We’re not better, just chosen? That’s so offensive to people.

It means that everyone else had a chance, and they lost!

You mean you’re not actually better? Just chosen? What are you trying to pull here? You’re saying it could have been ME?!

We need to re-examine this.

A Jew is a Jew and a non-Jew is a non-Jew. What choice was actually made?

When G-d wants something, he creates it. He didn’t CHOOSE Jews, he MADE them.

He chose a nation to give His ten commandments.

The first one says, ‘I am Hashem you’re G-d who took you out of Egypt.”

Who ELSE should keep that?! Its clearly addresses to the people that G-d took out! It’s addressed to the Jews! And if its addressed to the Jews, than what’s the CHOICE?

We’re told the other nations were not interested. Well, now we know why. It was about the JEWS!

Torah was a Jewish thing, so it was given to Jews.

Jews, then, are different creatures. There’s us and everyone else.

We have a hard time saying this to the world. But religious non-Jews who ask never get satisfying answers. They are relieved when they hear that we’re different, but we’re not bold enough to tell them. But it’s our problem, not theirs. Non-Jews feel the rightness; they don’t have a problem at all. We were all created to be what we need to be. Who has a problem with that?

So, we shouldn’t walk around saying we’re the “chosen people.” We were Jewish BEFORE we were chosen.

[Plus, “chosen” sounds like “until further notice,” like G-d can ‘unchoose” us. But a Jew is a Jew is a Jew!]

We are Jewish, not Chosen.

We are a different creation, not a nation picked from the many.

If we knew this, and were comfortable with it, the world would be more comfortable with us.

We’ve been trying to convince the anti-Semites that we’re “just like you.” But they aren’t buying it.

We can’t fool the world.


pia said...

i understand the points that you have clearly and beautifully brought out, but im not sure that i understand how its possible that by jews being a different creation others would understand and be ok with that. i dont think people would feel comfortable with it, becasuse i stll feel that by saying that jews are a didfferent creation it would envoke jealousy and confusion which is essentially the point that sparks anti semitism.

Itzhak Schier said...

American and Western European societies are so "dumbed down" and "cookie cutter" that standing out in any way is looked down upon. That is why said societies are beginning to crumble.

However, one of the reasons for anti-Semitism is that indeed, Jews do not take pride in our specialness and instead want to join the Bart Simpson dumbed down society. The world knows that we don't belong in the cookie cutter cesspool and that we indeed were created with a mission - after all Hashem created them too and many non-Jews do recognize this even if some of their churches are problematic. So, when a non-Jew sees a Jew who has no pride in himself, he shares that same analysis and treats the Jew with contempt.

The problem on our end is that most Jews indeed do not understand what our mission is, and we need to reach out even more than we already do.

And as always, R' Manis has it right and explains it in a way everyone can understand - we were CREATED differently, plain and simple. What is more, now science talks about a gene for belief, and I think that it is indeed there - and that if an analysis were ever done, it would prove that Jews are "maaminim bnei maaminim" and probably have a higher incidence of that belief gene, inherited over the generations from Avraham Avinu (and that geirim share that high incidence, proving that a ger tzedek is someone who indeed was meant to be a Jew!)

Now, will someone else please comment here :)?

Itzhak Schier said...


It is not so much a matter of non-Jews understanding that Jews are created differently as it is a matter of Jews understanding that WE are created differently and therefore it is not our job to copy the non-Jews and go out of our way to fit into their society. Rather, we need to be proud of the fact that if it were not for the Torah that was given to us but still accessible to non-Jews, and were it not for Hashem Whom it is our destiny to serve, they would be living just about at animal level (as people do in many idol worshipping societies). We don't need to explain our being different to the non - Jews; we just need to embrace it and we will get the respect and admiration we deserve instead of the disdain reserved for those who try foolishly to deny their true identity.

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that the way some Jews go out of their way to hide their Jewish identity is as ludicrous (and as authentic) as an African, Indian or other dark skinned person painting himself white!

shalhevet said...


well, i will say what i heard
from rabbi jacobosn who heard
it in the name of the rebbe
there is no way we can fight antisemitism, except for them

rabbi jacobson then said
something about yidden which i
quiet did not understand-
I am incognito therefore I am

rabbi krasnianski in a tanya
class once said, that the jews
represent the conscience
imagine that?

well yitzhak i will also tell you
this, not a place for right now
but in a nutshell, once i upon a time i was not batya shalhevet,
few months before i was exposed
to chassidus and about a year before i dunked in the mikva
had jewish friends, who were
israelites first and jews second
whatever - to me it was the same
and i was looking down on them
my family the same way
dont want to say hatred for
that's a strong word, but because
they were jews.
that was enuf.
there no logical explanation.
just this dislike for the jews.

to my parents now, epsecially that i am a chabadnick, well you dont
want to know what they think.
they want me to come back
and be well, normal.

conscience huh?

it is written in the talmud that
if a bnai noach where to serve
the Abishter according to the
sheva mitzvos they can reach a lever higher than a kohen gadol.

not bad huh?

Itzhak Schier said...

it is written in the talmud that
if a bnai noach where to serve
the Abishter according to the
sheva mitzvos they can reach a lever higher than a kohen gadol.
And only through our embracing our Jewish identity and being a true light to the nations (NOT the touchy feely stuff of new age Judaism) will non-Jews realize this (although it will only really happen when Moshiach comes, which in turn will come about either by our doing everything we can or chas vesholom after Hashem just about gives up on us!)

sab said...

ttto:ata v'chartanu