I suddenly was hit with an epiphany.
I think that a lot of us more “modern,” “progressive” Jews cringe at least a little when we think about the idea of us being the chosen people. It doesn’t seem very fair and it does seem a little haughty. I’ve always had a little bit of an issue with this but this morning I was able to see it differently.
Yesterday I got back from two days away to find a hand-written letter from a Jehovah’s witness. They have a church nearby and took the liberty of sending letters to everyone in this block, so it seems. By block I mean the block between the main streets. So, hundreds of people (unless they were targeting Jews, which makes it only 10s, but that is doubtful since she didn’t even know my name).
Of course I find it a little annoying that they’re trying to sell me their religion. As usual I compared it to Judaism. One of the main things I’m proud of in Judaism is the fact that we specifically do not search out converts. How fast we should accept someone into conversion if they are interested, is a debate, but basically we absolutely do not missionize. We’re not trying to make everyone like us and it is not in our belief system that people need to be like us!
Probably most of the murder triggered by religion has been rooted in a religious group believing that everyone has to take on their religion and beliefs. And suddenly I realized. The beauty of Judaism is specifically in the fact that yes, we are the chosen people, and so we are just supposed to do what we were commanded to do. This is not a matter of being better or high and mighty. It is a matter of focusing on ourselves.
Why has no one ever pointed this out to me? The chosen people is the exact opposite of believing everyone has to follow one religion! The chosen people is the opposite of missionizing.
These are my thoughts. I’m wondering how you feel about the term “the chosen people,” and about conversion, missionizing and, of course, of my logic here.
Tonight is Shavuot, when we became the chosen people and received the Torah. I think it’s very appropriate that my epiphany came this morning. Thanks, Rebbecca, Jehovah’s witness, for the letter! Well, thanks but no thanks!