Like any Jew, I went through severe brainwashing on the subject of the "Chosen People." I have always felt uncomfortable with this idea. However, I could not ignore some of the arguments that favored it. So, I decided to put it in perspective and write a post titled, "Are We the Chosen People?"
As the late Shimon Peres used to say, my post can be divided into three parts:
1) Why do I think we are not - nor should we be - the Chosen People?
2) The idea of cosmopolitanism, and how is it related to the issue?
3) Why are we still the Chosen People?
1) Why do I think we should not - and should not - be the Chosen People?
As is well known, the root of the idea of the Chosen People is in the promise given to our ancestor Abraham, that his descendants starting from his grandson Jacob (Israel) will constitute the Chosen People. Well, assuming one can rely on the legend narrated in the Torah, it does not seem to me that all Jews, and only Jews, are the descendants of our ancestor Jacob.
Plus, there have been so many ethnic interventions since it's just not serious about believing it. If we agree that those who converted to Judaism were added correctly or incorrectly, we have to believe that the Supreme Providence applies to them as well. I'll tell you frankly: I do not believe in God and even less so in Supreme Providence.
As for us being with virtue and light for the Gentiles: we indeed have Einstein and other geniuses. But the Gentiles have Newton and more and more. And I don't mention that there are some of our people that I am not proud they are Jews. Perhaps the number of Jews who have achieved tremendous achievements is disproportionate to the relative number of Jews in the world population. I will answer you that I agree with you: we are indeed a people of virtue in this sense, but not because but despite the different ethnic affiliation. (See below: Why are we still the Chosen People).
Nor should we see ourselves as the Chosen People.
Some say that the source of anti-Semitism among the Gentiles is jealousy. There may be something to it, but we have contributed something to anti-Semitism. As the kids say, "It's not nice to stand out."
2) The idea of cosmopolitanism and how it is related to the issue?
When I was eight, I asked my father, "Dad, why not just have one country?" Dad rejected me: "What kind of nonsense are you talking about!". Yesterday, I read an essay in philosophy on this subject. "Cosmopolitanism " so it is called, is not a new idea. Think of it already in the days of ancient Greece. It has enthusiastic supporters and opponents.
The peoples, and as a result, the states were created as a result of their separate development. Emotions of nationalism and nationalism developed, laws were enacted, habits took root. The results were disastrous: hatred and racism between peoples, fierce and unjustified competition between countries, bloody wars. Attempts are now being made to rectify this, starting with Victor Hugo's proposal to create the "United States of Europe," including the European Union, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the World Court of Justice, the United Nations, and more.
All this is not so simple. There are differences between peoples that must not be erased, just as an attempt to erase the changes between human beings in communist countries has caused a catastrophe. That is why I support the idea of cosmopolitism, with some reservations such as it is desirable to respect the differences between peoples.
I thought of the following:
Many Jews (both religious and secular) attribute the relative success of the Jews and the State of Israel in particular, to the fact that we are the Chosen People. As stated, in my opinion, this is both untrue and harmful to us. I may shock you a little more: Jesus was not wrong, and the first Christians were not wrong in extending the mitzvah "and love your neighbor as yourself" to all humankind, and with it the idea of the chosen people.
3) Why are we still the Chosen People?
Personally, I agree that there is a relative success for the Jewish people. But I do not attribute this to our being the Chosen People, nor to the fact that there is a "Jewish mafia," as the anti-Semites say. I attribute this to the fact that a Jew learns to treat another Jew as another Jew, that is, as another human being. I mean that due to our education to see ourselves as a Chosen People, we immediately feel empathy and a desire to help someone as soon as we learn that he is a Jew.
For the Gentiles, for example, the French, this is not the case. Their humorists sometimes make fun of each other for hating each other. When are they proud to be French?
- When France wins the World Cup (said every 20 years)
- When they are angry and complaining about the Americans, the English, the Germans, and the Arabs.
Of course, all this is approximative. Some Gentiles treat other Gentiles the way a Jew treats another Jew. And there are Jews who do not treat another Jew with empathy at all.
We, despite all the difficulties and problems, have learned to live Ashkenazim alongside Sephardim and Ethiopians. I am sure that if we find in China another "lost Jewish tribe" as we found in Ethiopia, and organize their aliyah, they will become successful Jews. Another thing is that the vast majority of Jews believe that the Jews are the Chosen People causes them positive thoughts, which are healthy in themselves.
We have discussed here the issue of the Chosen People. I would like to hear your opinion on the subject. But, do not be in a hurry to give a view that is too decisive! Notice all the nuances I have brought up in this text: I know that there are differences between the peoples and within each people, between the different denominations. I'm just saying that we should treat every person (another Jew, member of another community, Christian or Palestinian) as another person, and that is the great meaning of "and love your neighbor as yourself." I would like to hear from you in the comments:
- If you are Jewish: Do you think you are part of the Chosen People? How do you live it?
- If you are not a Jew: Do you also feel part of the Chosen People?