IS JUDAISM RACIST? – The Bible clearly speaks about the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, as a special people to God (Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2). How does Judaism view non-Jews? Are they looked down upon? Are they seen as inferior? What is supposed to be the relationship between Jews and non-Jews? This presentation explores these
questions and discusses the issue of whether Judaism has racist views of
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the Torah doesn't begin by telling us about the Jewish people the Torah begins with the creation of world the torah begins on a very universalistic note it's the creation of mankind of humanity and our sages teach us that mankind was created in order to establish an ideal world a utopian paradise down here so that all people who will be able to cultivate a relationship with their creator that is the purpose of our life on earth all human beings we're supposed to be able to establish a relationship with God and you can't really do that in the world that is running amok you can't do that when you're running for your life you can't do that when there's all kinds of problems and evils that are running rampant in the world we have to have a world that is stable we as human beings are responsible for establishing a utopian paradise in this world so that we'll be able to fulfill our function as human beings however the book of Genesis reveals to us failure after failure among the human world we did not get off to a good start and it continued to go downhill from there and so what happens is that finally God chooses Abraham and makes a covenant with him for Abraham to foster a nation that would help the world to move in the direction of righteousness and to be able to fulfill its potential as human beings God says at the very beginning of the story of Abraham right after God says to Abraham go left look ah go for yourself go to yourself to the land that I will show you he says to Abraham in jeopardy after 12 of Genesis I'll make you into a great nation and he says Abraham in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed Abraham was not told to be a people just for the sake of being a separate nation Abraham was told from the get-go that you have a mission to the rest of the world and your mission is to help bring blessing to the rest of humanity the Torah tells us later in chapter 19 of exodus verse 6 right before we receive the Torah at Mount Sinai God says to his people you will be unto me a nation of priests and a holy people that God tasks the Jewish people with this mission that our mission is to serve as priests as teachers to the rest of the world the prophet Isaiah expresses this in chapter 42 verse 6 and chapter 49 verse 6 he says that we are to be a light to the nation's and in chapter 43 of the prophet Isaiah verse 10 God says to Israel you are my witnesses we are supposed to be witnessing to the rest of the world about God now the question is why was Abraham chosen for this mission why was Abraham given this responsibility so the first thing to remember is that Abraham was chosen really as a response to the fact that Abraham chose God there's a famous Midrash rabbinic teaching that Abraham grew up in a home of idolaters his father actually probably manufactured and certainly sold idols for a living the Midrash tells us that one day his father has to go out of town probably to an idol manufacturers convention and he left young Abraham in charge of the store and Abraham takes a big mallet club and he smashes every single one of the idols except for the biggest one and he puts the club into the hands of the largest idol his father comes home and he sees all the ivy broken into pieces on the floor and he says what happened put you in charge and Abraham says well you know someone brought a gift into the idols but they all got into a big fight and the biggest Idol picked up a club and just broke all the other idols and his father assists him what are you talking about these idols can't do anything and Abraham says well then why do you worship them and Abraham got into trouble with the leading power of his generation with Nimrod for advocating this kind of monotheism he was the first iconoclast and the first reason that we understand that God chose Abraham was because Abraham chose God as modern writers say we're not so much the chosen people but we are the choosing people secondly Abraham received this mission because he was obedient to God the Torah tells us in a number of places Abraham followed God's instructions Abraham obeyed the laws of God Abraham was someone who lived in order to be obedient to God and he lived righteously with righteousness and he practiced loving kindness Abraham lived an ideal kind of life thirdly the Torah tells us I chose you God says about Abraham because I know you will teach your family after you to follow in the way of the Lord to do righteousness and justice so Abraham was not just someone who lived a righteous life himself he was someone dedicated to teaching this way to his descendants and teaching it to the world at large the rabbi's teach to us that actually Abraham and Sarah would teach the neighbors around them about God and they actually brought many people to have faith in God and forth Abraham received this mission because he believed in the mission one of the questions that is important to discuss is why was Abraham chosen for this task of being the progenitor of this special nation and not someone who came before him like Noah the Bible tells us that Noah was someone that was Sadiq Tamina perfectly righteous Noah was a perfectly righteous person and so why doesn't God choose Noah to be the founder of this nation the Bible never even says about Abraham that he was perfectly righteous so I learned from my teachers that we can answer this question by comparing in some ways Noah to Abraham because they really were two people who faced the exact same challenge in life God said to each of them I am going to destroy the world God says to Noah I'm going to send the flood and I'm going to wipe out all of humanity I want you to build an ark and you will save yourself and your family otherwise everyone else is going to be destroyed and Abraham is told the same thing God says to Abraham I'm going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and admah and see volume which were the major population centers of the world back then and yet Abraham and Noah react very differently Noah says to God you want me to build a boat I'll build a boat because I'm obedient and if God tells me to do something I say you want me to jump how high no way is very obedient he does exactly as God tells him Abraham is very different as soon as God says to Abraham I'm gonna wipe out all these people Abraham goes nuts and he challenges God and he says shall the judge of the whole world not do justice he says it's not becoming of you god it's not right to kill the righteous with the wicked he challenges God how could you propose this idea of killing everybody you're gonna kill the righteous with the wicked so Abraham says to God what if there are 50 righteous people within those cities and then they begin to barter back and forth okay what if there are 50 okay 45 40 30 20 10 and he gets God all the way down to 10 now what you would expect is that Abraham would say to God look it's not right to kill the righteous with the wicked if there are ten righteous people God take them out of the cities and then okay kill all the wicked people that seems to be Abraham's line of reasoning it's not righteousness it's not justice to kill the righteous with the wicked so if there are ten righteous people then God take those ten people out save them and if you want to kill the wicked that's your fam that's your business but it's not what Abraham says Abraham says if there are ten righteous people in the city god you have to save the entire city what does Abraham's thesis his thesis is that these ten righteous people and not just ten righteous people in the city the Hebrew is very precise batalha ear de living amongst the rest of the city do not squirrel de way in some monastery where no one else can see them these are ten righteous people that are living amongst the rest of the people to living with the rest of the people and Abraham's thesis is that if there are such ten people god you have to save not just them but the entire city because these ten people that are modeling righteousness have the ability to influence the rest of the city and they have the potential of changing the rest of the city and therefore he says to God you have to save everyone now conceptually how is Abraham different than Noah the essential difference conceptually is that each of these men face the very same challenge Abraham protests and Abraham demands that God not destroy everyone but why doesn't know a protest why does Noah simply accept the destruction of the entire world and the reason is because Noah lost touch with the idea that every single human being is created in the image of God which means that every human being has moral free will we have the ability to choose and we have the ability to change every person simply because we are created in God's image we can change Noah lost touch with that and it's not so hard to understand why Noah saw a world that was so wicked so thoroughly evil he couldn't imagine that these people could ever change but Abraham didn't lose touch with this basic idea abraham believed at the core of his being that every one of God's creatures is created in His image has moral free will has the ability to choose and the ability to change and so for Abraham it wasn't a pipe dream that ten righteous people might have the ability by modeling righteousness to have an impact on the rest of the city and those people might change and they might become themselves righteous and that's why Abraham is tapped for this mission because he believed in the possibility of change the essential nature of the Jewish mission is that we believe not just that we as individuals can change one of the one of the centerpieces of the Jewish Bible is the idea of repentance that if we is individual sin we can turn ourselves around we can turn away from our sin and turn back to God but we also believe in the idea of universal change that the world can change and so because of Abraham's firm belief and commitments the idea that people can change he was given this mission of becoming a change agent that he would lead a nation that would exist for the purpose of ultimately helping transform the world our calling as a people is to model a faith in monotheism a faith in the Creator alone to model justice to model what it means to live a life of peace equality tolerance and righteousness that is our calling as a people does this imply racism does this imply intolerance of other people the reality is that Judaism is not a race just as Abraham chose to follow God every human being has the option if they desire to join Abraham's people through conversion we're not an exclusive club the truth is there really wasn't a Judaism until the descendants of Abraham stood under mount sinai and accepted the torah there really wasn't a judaism until the torah was given and those first people that stood at mount sinai if you think about it they basically converted to Judaism because conversion to Judaism is basically the acceptance of the Torah and so from that time on any non Jew can choose to go through the exact same process of accepting the Torah upon themselves and becoming a Jew becoming a member of Abraham's family through adoption now the truth is it's not easy to commit to observing all the laws of the Torah it might be one of the reasons why people are not beating down our doors to convert it's not an easy thing to take upon oneself and it's certainly not easy to withstand all of the hatred and persecution that have been heaped upon us for centuries and centuries and centuries that we've had to endure but if a non Jew wants to opt in they are very welcome the truth is however that from a Jewish point of view there is no term Enda Snead to convert to Judaism the person who's not Jewish is not in any great disadvantage by not being Jewish you do not have to be a Jew in order to have a relationship with God you do not have to be a Jew in order to have a relationship with God every human being is created in the image of God and is beloved by God as one of his children long before there was a Judaism long before there was a Judaism back in the book of Genesis there were righteous people like Noah like hanno like shame like Malky jeddak who knew God who walked with God who had a relationship with God and who lived righteous lives they were not Jews they didn't practice Judaism Judaism does not believe that God ignored the world for almost 2,500 years before finally revealing the Torah on Mount Sinai to the children of Israel we don't believe that God created the world and then took a vacation and never explained to people what he expected of them Judaism believes that God revealed to the first human beings to Adam and then to Noah the universal laws of humanity that are the standard of righteousness for all people and so our Tate our sages in the Talmud teach that the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come you don't need to be a Jew in order to have life eternal in the world to come or in modern simple parlance to go to heaven you do not need to be a Jew our sages teach that all righteous of the nations have a share in the world to come lieutenant de bâle Yahoo States I call upon heaven and earth as witnesses any individual whether Gentile Jew man or woman servant or maidservant can bring the divine presence upon themselves in accordance with their deed the Talmud teaches that any non-jews who fulfills their Torah obligations is considered to be on the level of the high priest so is Judaism racist I would say that because Judaism is not a race and any human being can join the Jewish people we are not an exclusive group we're not racist and secondly those who choose not to join us are not look down upon as inferior spiritual beings every human being because they're created in the image of God has infinite potential and can have a relationship with God by seeking God and by seeking to live according to God's righteous standards