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      The whole idea of there being a chosen people is very difficult for a lot of people to
accept.  To many the whole idea seems racist or arrogant.  From a Universalist point of
view, isn’t G-d the G-d of all of mankind, and that he would not favor one of His nations over
another.  The whole idea of believing in a chosen people can be seen as counterproductive
to the unity of mankind, where there needs to be an emphasis on tolerance and acceptance
of everyone as equal, with no one being set over another.  Furthermore, when you view the
tremendous tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, such as the Holocaust or the
current intifada in Israel , it may lead one to question whether God is showing any favoritism
to the Jewish people at all.

      As we start to explore this topic, is important to begin with a certain amount of
background information.  First of all you must realize that everybody wants to be the chosen
people.  Every religion and political philosophy promises that its followers are the most
special.  For instance among the ancient Greeks, to be considered a Greek was the
ultimate in being educated, cultured, and being favored by the gods.  With the Roman
Empire , you have much the same, where being a Roman citizen was the highest level of
social status.  With Christianity, and later Islam you have religious viewpoints, both of which
are offshoots of Judaism, where God has created a new favored body of believers.

       In the 20th century we saw the Nazis, with their views of the Aryan race being the
highest level of human evolution, a master race whose destiny is to rule over all others.  
Finally, we saw the Communists come and go on the stage of history, where they held
beliefs in a worldwide communist revolution being the ultimate fulfillment of human
civilization.  Can you imagine a religion that says you will be number two?  How successful
do you think it would be, especially if you are promised to be number two to the Jews.  You
could say this drive to be the “chosen ones", however you define it, has been the most
powerful drive in human history.  The Jews have faced all of these civilizations that have
claimed to be a different chosen people, and we have outlasted them all.

      If we believe that the idea of the chosen people is a religious idea, and we question how
God could actually choose one nation over the others, we need to go back to the Bible to
examine exactly what the Torah states on this issue.
The first place to look is with the election of Abraham which is found in Genesis 12:1.

    And the Lord has said to Avram, get out from your country, and from your family, and
    from your father's house, to a land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great
    nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing;
    and I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you; and in you shall all
    families of the earth be blessed.

       Here God begins the process of building a great nation, starting from Abraham, with the
purpose of that nation being to serve as a blessing to all of mankind.  We the Jewish people,
the descendents of Abraham, are in fact intended to be a blessing to all of mankind through
our ideas and our example.

In Isaiah 49:6.  

    I will also give you for a light to the nations, that my salvation may be to the end of the
    earth.

       This covenant that Hashem sealed with Abraham was renewed with Isaac and Jacob.  It
is again renewed with all of the nation at Mount Sinai .  The heirs to this covenant would be
given the land of Israel as its heritage.        

    Genesis 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto your seed will I
    give this land….

    Exodus 33:1  And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, you and the
    people which you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I swore
    unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto your seed will I give it….
    Whether you believe in the Torah or not, let us at least see what the Torah says to
    determine how clear it is about this issue of the chosen people.

    Exodus 19:5.  Now therefore, if you'll surely obey my voice, and keep my covenant, you
    should be my own treasure among all peoples; for all the earth is mine….

    Deuteronomy 14: 2.  For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, the Lord has
    blessed you to be a special people to himself, above all the nations that are upon the
    earth.

    Deuteronomy 26: 18-19.  And the Lord has declared you this day to be a special
    people, as he has commanded you, and that you should keep all his commandments;
    and to set you high above all nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and
    in honor; and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, as he has spoken.

       So what makes the Jewish claim of being the chosen people any different from that of
the claims made by other nations?  First of all, as we have seen, the Tanakh clearly says that
the Jews are the chosen people.  The Tanakh does not say this about anyone else.
    •      When compared to Christianity and Islam, we see in those religions, that you are
    either chosen or you are damned.  Favored status only goes to the people who believe
    in their religion.  And for those who do not believe, they are rejected by G-d and are
    punished accordingly.
    •      The Jewish perspective is that we are in a sense an Officer Corps.  Just as it is
    most effective to run a corporation or the military by using trained and experience
    officers, so do we feel that God wanted to work through leaders to transform his world.  
    We believe that the purpose of the Jewish people is to be teachers of mankind.  Yet,
    we believe that you don't need to be Jewish to have a close personal relationship with
    God.

       I often tell people that is a misnomer to call the Jewish religion Judaism.  One reason for
this is because it makes it seem as if God is only interested in connecting with the Jewish
people, and that is really not the case at all.  We believe in the Torah, which contains a
message for all of mankind.

    It says in Psalm 145:18, The Lord is near to all those who call upon him, to all who call
    upon him in truth.
    Contrast this with the view of the New Testament and as expressed in the book of
    John 14: 6.  Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes
    unto the father, except by me.

Which way seems more universal and inclusive?

The Jewish belief, as expressed in the Talmud, is that the righteous of all the nations of the
world have a place in the world to come, and that God cares for them as his children as well.
    1 Kings 8:41 .  And also concerning a stranger, who is not of your people Israel, but
    comes from a far country for your name’s sake; for they shall hear of your great name,
    and of your strong hand, and of your outstretched arm; when he shall come, and pray
    toward this house; hear you in Heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all of
    that the stranger calls you for; that all people of the earth made know your name, to fear
    you, as do your people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have
    built, is called by your name.

       What about our sufferings?  This is separate subject to we should deal with at length
any another time, however, I will touch upon it lightly at this time.  In the book of Deuteronomy,
Moses recounts what is going to happen to the Jewish people if they forsake Hashem’s
Torah.  Tragic events will befall them, including exile, and everyone including the nations of
the world will try to understand why these tragedies came about.  Many Christians have
postulated that the reason why the Temple was destroyed and the Jews were thrown out into
exile, was because we rejected Jesus as our savior, and that Hashem has rejected us.  The
Jews on the other hand have chosen to let the Torah speak for itself.

    Deuteronomy 29:23-27
    All nations shall say, Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What does the heat of
    this great anger mean?  Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant
    of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of
    the land of Egypt;  For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods
    whom they knew not, and whom he had not given to them;  And the anger of the Lord
    was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this
    book;  And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great
    indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.

       In the covenant that Hashem sealed with Abraham, our part was to keep Hashem's
commandments, and the Tanakh tells over and over again how Hashem became angry with
us when we did not.

      In the story of the golden calf, when the Jewish people built an idol, Hashem was so
angry that he told Moshe that he would destroy us, and would rebuild his people through
Moshe.  But when Moshe urged Him to remember the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob, Hashem's anger stopped.
Know that the covenant that he sealed with Abraham still stands, and that Hashem will not
forget us.

    Isaiah 41: 8.  But you, Israel , are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of
    Abraham my friend.  You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called you
    from its farthest corners, and said to you, you are my servant; I have chosen you, and
    not cast you away.
    Isaiah 49: 14-15.  But Zion says, the Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten
    me.  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on
    the son of her womb?  Yes, even they may forget, but I will not forget you.
    1 Samuel 12:22. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake;
    because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people.

       Is it still difficult to call us the Chosen People, how about the Most Influential?
Our real purpose is to be a nation of priests or teachers of mankind.  Where in history do we
see validation of this?

      First of all, the Bible is the most read book.  This is especially significant, in light of the
fact that many nations tried to wipe-out the Torah from the face of the earth, yet the prophets
foretold that the Torah would become universally known.
      Judaism gave birth to Christianity & Islam, and both faiths drew heavily from Jewish
beliefs in formulating their own.
      The names Solomon & Einstein have become synonymous with Wisdom & Genius.       
      Throughout the ages we have been counselors to heads of state: from Abarbenel with
the King of Spain, to Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspon.  We win more Nobel Prizes in
relation to our numbers than anyone else, while improving the lives of mankind.

      Our prophets tell us that in the Messianic era, the Jews will be redeemed and vindicated
as Hashem’s Chosen Ones.  The Torah that we have remained committed to will become
the way of life in the Messianic Era.   

    Isaiah 2:3. And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain
    of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we
    will walk in his paths; for from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from
    Jerusalem.

    Zechariah 8:23 Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that
    ten men from the nations of every language, shall take hold of the robe of a Jew,
    saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you.

      I would like to end with an article written by Mark Twain, entitled “ Concerning The Jews”,
which appeared in  Harper’s Magazine in the year 1900.

    “If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It
    suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly
    the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He
    is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is
    extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the
    world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and
    abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He
    has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands
    tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the
    Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded
    to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast
    noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a
    time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw
    them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no
    infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of
    his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass,
    but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”




THE CHOSEN PEOPLE