The Chosen People

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


The Chosen People

The Torah tells us that we Jews are the Chosen People. This is found in Shemoth (Exodus) 19:5-6 and in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:6-8. In Exodus we read this: “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant (says God) then you shall be my own treasure among all peoples; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation…………..”

In Deuteronomy this is written: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God ; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a special people to Himself; above all people that are upon the face of the earth. ………..”

You may want to look up these passages in your Chumash (Bible).

Now it is almost certain that a majority of American Jews reject the idea of the “Chosen People” for fear that the so called “anti-Semites” will use this phrase as an additional means of cursing Jews. That view is of course spurious for two reasons. First, Jew haters, as stated on previous occasions in this column, are not anti-Semites since we are not Semites. A Semite is someone who speaks a Semitic language, such as Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew. We use English, an Indo-European language. “Anti-Semites” are followers of the 19th century German journalist Wilhelm Marr, who invented the word “anti-Semitism” as a substitute for “anti-Judaism” because the number of Germans willing to believe that Jews were “in league” with the devil, poison the water supply and make Matzohs with the blood of children had diminished in view of scientific advances which made these accusations implausible. Therefore, Marr argued that Jews are a race, biologically forced to destroy German culture and incapable of change. Consequently, Marr argued, Jews must be murdered since nothing else can remove the Jewish “bacillus” from the German body. Today, the Arab followers of Marr and their supporters argue the same thing.

The second reason we need not concern ourselves regarding the possible negative effect of the “chosen people” phrase is that Jew haters need no excuse to promote their murderous hopes and deeds. The Arabs who murder Jews in Israel every day may never have heard the phrase “chosen people” but are nevertheless more than happy to kill any and all Jews wherever we may be.

Of course, there are many Christians in this country who accept the words of the Torah and agree that we Jews are indeed the “chosen people”. These are Torah true Christians who see that one cannot selectively accept one or the other words of the Torah and deny what we do not want to hear. Furthermore, those Christians who do not agree to “replacement theology” insist that the people of Israel are indeed the chosen people of God. Those churches who believe in “replacement theology”, such as the Episcopalians, say that Jews have been replaced by Christians and are no longer the “chosen people”. That explains the antagonism of the “main line” churches such as the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc. to Israel. These denominations would love to see the destruction of Israel and the mass killing of the Israelis because that would “prove” their theology. These churches are usually called “liberal” and, like all “liberals”, don’t like Jews very well. Note the recent speech by Al Gore, once more candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, demanding that the U.S. befriend the Arab nations.

The many secularists among us who view the entire discussion about “the chosen people” as nonsense should not overlook the important sociological dictum that “that which people believe is real is real in its consequences.” This means that we Jews have a large contingent of friends among fundamentalist Christians who believe in the “chosen people” concept. Let us assume that there is no evidence that Jews are “chosen” in any fashion whatever. This would not diminish the fact Jews will be treated as “chosen” by those who believe this. In addition, Jews will be chosen by those who believe and resent this “status”.

Obviously, we have for centuries been “chosen” for persecution and murder, both in Europe and in the Muslim countries. In that respect we are indeed “chosen”. However, we are also “chosen” in another fashion. We have contributed more to human civilization than any other people, not only in proportion to our infinitesimal size, but also numerically. Our contributions to medicine alone are astounding. However, we have done as much in the sciences, in music, in literature and in all human endeavors. This is the consequence of being “chosen” either because persecution has made us aware that we must exceed to survive, or because we are indeed more intelligent and competent than anyone else or because both are true.

There is no reason why we should deny this or apologize for it. Do Germans apologize for Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn? In fact, the Germans don’t even apologize for Hitler. Then why should we not acknowledge Einstein and Steinmetz? Do the English apologize for Dickens and Stevenson? Then why should we not be proud of Sholom Asch and Peretz? Are the French ashamed to pride themselves on Gouneau and Claude Debussy? Then why can we not be proud of Gershwin and Meyerbeer?

We are indeed a chosen people. For better or for worse, that will never change. Therefore we must be glad of it and acknowledge our good fortune. We need not excuse ourselves for our achievements. We need not tell critics and haters that we do not really consider ourselves superior to others. We need only remember this verse from the Torah: (Devarim 7:7) “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor chose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” We are so great because of our achievements, not because of our power; because we taught ethics to the world, not because of our numbers; because we are eternal, not because of our military strength. Remember. We cannot be defeated. We cannot disappear. We can only continue as “a light unto the nations and a blessing to all who bless Israel.”

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2002).

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