Chosen People Racist?

September 1, 2011

3 min read


What’s behind the whole concept of the Jews as the Chosen People? Isn’t this idea racist?

What’s behind the whole concept of the Jews as the Chosen People? Isn’t this idea racist?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

All human beings are God's people, as it says that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Further, the great prophet Malachi said, "Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?" (Malachi 2:10) The Talmud likewise points out that one reason the entire human race descends from a single set of parents, Adam and Eve, is so that no one would be able to claim his ancestors are greater than his fellow's (Sanhedrin 37a). Judaism does not believe there is an inherently superior race of human beings.

Historically, however, the world slipped away from its relationship with God, and eventually the entire world was worshipping idols. Approximately 4,000 years ago, Abraham re-discovered the one God, and chose to accept the challenge of spreading the ideas of monotheism and morality to the world. Through his dedication and willingness to give up everything for God, he was chosen – and his descendants after him – to become the guardians of God’s message.

In other words, Abraham chose God, and thus God chose Abraham.

Abraham then passed this responsibility to his sons Isaac and Jacob. That mission was formalized 3,300 years ago at Mount Sinai, when God put these ideas into a written form (the Torah).

Till today, the Jewish mission is to be a "light unto the nations," to go out and teach what it means to be "created in the image of God." Abraham demonstrated how a human being has to take responsibility for the world. Abraham's undertaking was the first progressive, liberal movement the world had ever seen. And how it succeeded!

Yet Judaism is not exclusionary. The Torah presents seven mitzvot for non-Jews to observe. These seven laws are the pillars of human civilization, and are named the "Seven Laws of Noah," since all humans are descended from Noah. Maimonides explains that any human being who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in heaven. So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary.

As explained in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b), they are:

1) Do not murder.

2) Do not steal.

3) Do not worship false gods.

4) Do not be sexually immoral.

5) Do not eat the limb of an animal before it is killed.

6) Do not curse God.

7) Set up courts and bring offenders to justice.

Furthermore, in God's great kindness, he opened the door for every human to potentially become part of the Jewish people. Anyone who is sincere can accept upon himself to keep all the commandments and convert to Judaism in the proper way. Once he converts, he then becomes a Jew in every regard and his relationship with God is the same level as that of every other Jew. Most Jewish communities today have a spectacular ethnic mix, many converts among them.

So, no, Judaism is not racist.

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