Jews as the chosen people
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In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews are the chosen people, chosen to be in a covenant with God. This idea is first found in the Torah (the first five books of the Tanakh, which are also included in the Christian Bible) and is elaborated on in later books of the Hebrew Bible. Much is written about these topics in rabbinic literature. The three largest Jewish denominations—Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism—maintain the belief that the Jews have been chosen by God for a purpose.
- 1 Chosenness in the Bible
- 2 Rabbinic Jewish views of chosenness
- 3 Modern Orthodox views
- 4 Conservative Judaism views
- 5 Reform Judaism
- 6 Alternative views
- 7 Reconstructionist criticism
- 8 Views from other religions
- 9 Influence on relations with other religions
- 10 Ethnocentrism and racism
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Chosenness in the Bible
According to the traditional Jewish interpretation of the Bible, Israel's character as the chosen people is unconditional, as it says in Deuteronomy 14:2,
- "For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth."
The Torah also says,
- "Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me from all the peoples, for all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5).
God promises that he will never exchange his people with any other:
- "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you." (Genesis 17:7).
Other Torah verses about chosenness,
- "And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6).
- "The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your ancestors." (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).
- "You only have I singled out of all the families of the earth: therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities."
Rabbinic Jewish views of chosenness
The idea of chosenness has traditionally been interpreted by Jews in two ways: one way is that God chose the Israelites, while the other is that the Israelites chose God. Although collectively this choice was made freely, religious Jews believe that it created individual obligation for the descendants of the Israelites. Another opinion is that the choice was free in a limited context, thus: although the Jews chose to follow precepts ordained by God, the Kabbalah and Tanya teach that even prior to creation, the "Jewish soul" was already chosen.
Crucial to the Jewish notion of chosenness is that it creates obligations exclusive to Jews, while non-Jews receive from God other covenants and other responsibilities. Generally, it does not entail exclusive rewards for Jews. Classical rabbinic literature in the Mishnah Avot 3:14 has this teaching:
Rabbi Akiva used to say, "Beloved is man, for he was created in God's image; and the fact that God made it known that man was created in His image is indicative of an even greater love. As the verse states [Genesis 9:6], 'In the image of God, man was created.'" The mishna goes on to say, "Beloved are the people Israel, for they are called children of God; it is even a greater love that it was made known to them that they are called children of God, as it said, 'You are the children of the Lord, your God. Beloved are the people Israel, for a precious article [the Torah] was given to them ...
Most Jewish texts do not state that "God chose the Jews" by itself. Rather, this is usually linked with a mission or purpose, such as proclaiming God's message among all the nations, even though Jews cannot become "unchosen" if they shirk their mission. This implies a special duty, which evolves from the belief that Jews have been pledged by the covenant which God concluded with the biblical patriarch Abraham, their ancestor, and again with the entire Jewish nation at Mount Sinai. In this view, Jews are charged with living a holy life as God's priest-people.
- "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has chosen us out of all the nations and bestowed upon us His Torah."
- "For you have chosen us and sanctified us out of all the nations, and have given us the Sabbath as an inheritance in love and favour. Praised are you, Lord, who hallows the Sabbath."
In the "Kiddush" recited on festivals it says,
- "Blessed are You ... who have chosen us from among all nations, raised us above all tongues, and made us holy through His commandments."
The Aleinu prayer refers to the concept of Jews as a chosen people:
It is our duty to praise the Master of all, to exalt the Creator of the Universe, who has not made us like the nations of the world and has not placed us like the families of the earth; who has not designed our destiny to be like theirs, nor our lot like that of all their multitude. We bend the knee and bow and acknowledge before the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be he, that it is he who stretched forth the heavens and founded the earth. His seat of glory is in the heavens above; his abode of majesty is in the lofty heights.
An earlier form of this prayer, in use during the medieval era, contained an extra sentence:
It is our duty to praise the Master of all, to exalt the Creator of the Universe, who has not made us like the nations of the world and has not placed us like the families of the earth; who has not designed our destiny to be like theirs, nor our lot like that of all their multitude, who worship mist and emptiness and pray to a god who cannot save.
- "Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations; they have no knowledge that carry the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save."
In the medieval era some within the Christian community came to believe that this line referred to Christians worshipping Jesus; they demanded that it be excised. Ismar Elbogen, a historian of the Jewish liturgy, held that the early form of the prayer pre-dated Christianity, and could not possibly have referred to it.
- The following section contains information from the Jewish Encyclopedia, originally published between 1901-1906, which is in the public domain.
According to the Rabbis, "Israel is of all nations the most willful or headstrong one, and the Torah was to give it the right scope and power of resistance, or else the world could not have withstood its fierceness."
"The Lord offered the Law to all nations; but all refused to accept it except Israel."
How do we understand "A Gentile who consecrates his life to the study and observance of the Law ranks as high as the high priest", says R. Meïr, by deduction from Lev. xviii. 5; II Sam. vii. 19; Isa. xxvi. 2; Ps. xxxiii. 1, cxviii. 20, cxxv. 4, where all stress is laid not on Israel, but on man or the righteous one.
The Gemara states this regarding a non-Jew who studies Torah [his 7 mitzvot][clarification needed] and regarding this, see Shita Mekubetzes, Bava Kama 38a who says that this is an exaggeration.[clarification needed] In any case, this statement was not extolling the non-Jew. The Rishonim explain that it is extolling the Torah.
Tosfos explains that it uses the example of a kohen gadol (high priest), because this statement is based on the verse, "y'kara hi mipnimim" (it is more precious than pearls). This is explained elsewhere in the Gemara to mean that the Torah is more precious pnimim (translated here as "inside" instead of as "pearls"; thus that the Torah is introspectively absorbed into the person), which refers to lifnai v'lifnim (translated as "the most inner of places"), that is the Holy of Holies where the kahon gadol went.
In any case, in Midrash Rabba (Bamidbar 13:15) this statement is made with an important addition: a non-Jew who converts and studies Torah etc.
The Nation of Israel is likened to the olive. Just as this fruit yields its precious oil only after being much pressed and squeezed, so Israel's destiny is one of great oppression and hardship, in order that it may thereby give forth its illuminating wisdom. Poverty is the quality most befitting Israel as the chosen people (Ḥag. 9b). Only on account of its good works is Israel among the nations "as the lily among thorns", or "as wheat among the chaff."
Modern Orthodox views
Yes, I do believe that the chosen people concept as affirmed by Judaism in its holy writ, its prayers, and its millennial tradition. In fact, I believe that every people—and indeed, in a more limited way, every individual—is "chosen" or destined for some distinct purpose in advancing the designs of Providence. Only, some fulfill their mission and others do not. Maybe the Greeks were chosen for their unique contributions to art and philosophy, the Romans for their pioneering services in law and government, the British for bringing parliamentary rule into the world, and the Americans for piloting democracy in a pluralistic society. The Jews were chosen by God to be 'peculiar unto Me' as the pioneers of religion and morality; that was and is their national purpose.
The chosenness of Israel relates exclusively to its spiritual vocation embodied in the Torah; the doctrine, indeed, was announced at Sinai. Whenever it is mentioned in our liturgy—such as the blessing immediately preceding the Shema....it is always related to Torah or Mitzvot (commandments). This spiritual vocation consists of two complementary functions, described as "Goy Kadosh", that of a holy nation, and "Mamlekhet Kohanim", that of a kingdom of priests. The first term denotes the development of communal separateness or differences in order to achieve a collective self-transcendence [...] The second term implies the obligation of this brotherhood of the spiritual elite toward the rest of mankind; priesthood is defined by the prophets as fundamentally a teaching vocation.
Conservative Judaism views
Few beliefs have been subject to as much misunderstanding as the "Chosen People" doctrine. The Torah and the Prophets clearly stated that this does not imply any innate Jewish superiority. In the words of Amos (3:2) "You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth—that is why I will call you to account for your iniquities". The Torah tells us that we are to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" with obligations and duties which flowed from our willingness to accept this status. Far from being a license for special privilege, it entailed additional responsibilities not only toward God but to our fellow human beings. As expressed in the blessing at the reading of the Torah, our people have always felt it to be a privilege to be selected for such a purpose. For the modern traditional Jew, the doctrine of the election and the covenant of Israel offers a purpose for Jewish existence which transcends its own self interests. It suggests that because of our special history and unique heritage we are in a position to demonstrate that a people that takes seriously the idea of being covenanted with God can not only thrive in the face of oppression, but can be a source of blessing to its children and its neighbors. It obligates us to build a just and compassionate society throughout the world and especially in the land of Israel where we may teach by example what it means to be a "covenant people, a light unto the nations".
Originally the text read that God has not made us like the nations who "bow down to nothingness and vanity, and pray to an impotent god", [...] In the Middle Ages these words were censored, since the church believed they were an insult to Christianity. Omitting them tends to give the impression that the Aleinu teaches that we are both different and better than others. The actual intent is to say that we are thankful that God has enlightened us so that, unlike the pagans, we worship the true God and not idols. There is no inherent superiority in being Jewish, but we do assert the superiority of monotheistic belief over paganism. Although paganism still exists today, we are no longer the only ones to have a belief in one God.
Reform Judaism views the concept of chosenness in this way:
Throughout the ages it has been Israel's mission to witness to the Divine in the face of every form of paganism and materialism. We regard it as our historic task to cooperate with all men in the establishment of the kingdom of God, of universal brotherhood, Justice, truth and peace on earth. This is our Messianic goal.
In 1999 the Reform movement stated:
We affirm that the Jewish people are bound to God by an eternal covenant, as reflected in our varied understandings of Creation, Revelation and Redemption [...] We are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the nations to be witnesses to God's presence. We are linked by that covenant and that history to all Jews in every age and place.
Equality of souls
Many Kabbalistic sources, notably the Tanya, contain statements to the effect that the Jewish soul is qualitatively different from the non-Jewish soul. Some prominent Kabbalists rejected this idea and believed in essential equality of all human souls. Menahem Azariah da Fano, in his book Reincarnations of souls, provides many examples of non-Jewish Biblical figures being reincarnated as Jews, and vice versa. Abraham Cohen de Herrera, another Kabbalist of the same school, quotes Greek, Christian and various Oriental mystics and philosophers without hesitation, and does not mention anything specific about the Jewish souls.
A number of known Chabad rabbis offered alternative readings of the Tanya, did not take this teaching literally, and even managed to reconcile it with the leftist ideas of internationalism and class struggle. The original text of the Tanya refers to the "idol worshippers" and does not mention the "nations of the world" at all, although such interpretation was endorsed by Menachem Mendel Schneerson and is popular in contemporary Chabad circles. Hillel of Parich, an early Tanya commentator, wrote that the souls of righteous Gentiles are more similar to the Jewish souls, and are generally good and not egoistic. This teaching was accepted by Schneerson and is considered normative in Chabad.
Different in character but not value
According to the author of the Tanya himself, a righteous non-Jew can achieve a high level of spiritually, similar to an angel, although his soul is still fundamentally different in character, but not value, from a Jewish one. Tzemach Tzedek, the third rebbe of Chabad, wrote that the Muslims are naturally good-hearted people. Rabbi Yosef Jacobson, a popular contemporary Chabad lecturer, teaches that in today's world most non-Jews belong to the category of righteous Gentiles, effectively rendering the Tanya's attitude anachronistic.
Dov Ber Pinson, a contemporary Chabad mystic, denies the idea that there is any essential difference between the Jews and non-Jews. According to his theory, every person has a lower animalistic and higher Godly soul. The Tanya does not talk about Jews and non-Jews as social groups, but describes the internal struggle between the materialistic "Gentile" and spiritual "Jewish" levels of consciousness within every human soul.
An anti-Zionist interpretation of Tanya was offered by Abraham Yehudah Khein, a prominent Ukrainian Chabad rabbi, who supported anarchist communism and considered Peter Kropotkin a great Tzaddik. Khein basically read the Tanya backwards; since the souls of idol worshipers are known to be evil, according to the Tanya, while the Jewish souls are known to be good, he concluded that truly altruistic people are really Jewish, in a spiritual sense, while Jewish nationalists and class oppressors are not. By this logic, he claimed that Vladimir Solovyov and Rabindranath Tagore probably have Jewish souls, while Leon Trotsky and other totalitarians do not, and many Zionists, whom he compared to apes, are merely "Jewish by birth certificate".
Nachman of Breslov also believed that Jewishness is a level of consciousness, and not an intrinsic inborn quality. He wrote that, according to the Book of Malachi, one can find "potential Jews" among all nations, whose souls are illuminated by the leap of "holy faith", which "activated" the Jewishness in their soul. These people would otherwise convert to Judaism, but prefer not to do so. Instead, they recognize the Divine unity within their pagan religions.
Isaac Arama, an influential philosopher and mystic of the 15th century, believed that righteous non-Jews are spiritually identical to the righteous Jews. Rabbi Menachem Meiri, a famous Catalan Talmudic commentator and Maimonidian philosopher, considered all people, who sincerely profess an ethical religion, to be part of a greater "spiritual Israel". He explicitly included Christian and Muslims in this category. Meiri rejected all Talmudic laws that discriminate between the Jews and non-Jews, claiming that they only apply to the ancient idolators, who had no sense of morality. The only exception are a few laws related directly or indirectly to intermarriage, which Meiri did recognize.
Meiri applied his idea of "spiritual Israel" to the Talmudic statements about unique qualities of the Jewish people. For example, he believed that the famous saying that Israel is above astrological predestination (Ein Mazal le-Israel) also applied to the followers of other ethical faiths. He also considered countries, inhabited by decent moral non-Jews, such as Languedoc, as a spiritual part of the Holy Land.
One Jewish critic of chosenness was the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. In the third chapter of his Theologico-Political Treatise, Spinoza mounts an argument against a naive interpretation of God's choice of the Jews. Bringing evidence from the Bible itself, he argues that God's choice of Israel was not unique (he had chosen other nations before choosing the Hebrew nation) and that the choice of the Jews is neither inclusive (it does not include all of the Jews, but only the 'pious' ones) nor exclusive (it also includes 'true gentile prophets'). Finally, he argues that God's choice is not unconditional. Recalling the numerous times God threatened the complete destruction of the Hebrew nation, he asserts that this choice is neither absolute, nor eternal, nor necessary. Moreover, in aphorism 12 he writes, "Thus the Jews today have absolutely nothing that they can attribute to themselves but not to other peoples...."
Reconstructionist Judaism rejects the concept of chosenness. Its founder, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, said that the idea that God chose the Jewish people leads to racist beliefs among Jews, and thus must be excised from Jewish theology. This rejection of chosenness is made explicit in the movement's siddurim (prayer books).
For example, the original blessing recited before reading from the Torah contains the phrase, "asher bahar banu mikol ha’amim"—"Praised are you Lord our God, ruler of the Universe, who has chosen us from among all peoples by giving us the Torah." The Reconstructionist version is rewritten as "asher kervanu la’avodato", "Praised are you Lord our God, ruler of the Universe, who has drawn us to your service by giving us the Torah."
In the mid-1980s, the Reconstructionist movement issued its Platform on Reconstructionism. It states that the idea of chosenness is "morally untenable", because anyone who has such beliefs "implies the superiority of the elect community and the rejection of others."
Not all Reconstructionists accept this view. The newest siddur of the movement, Kol Haneshamah, includes the traditional blessings as an option, and some modern Reconstructionist writers have opined that the traditional formulation is not racist, and should be embraced.
An original prayer book, by Reconstructionist feminist poet Marcia Falk, The Book of Blessings, has been widely accepted by both Reform and Reconstructionist Jews. Falk rejects all concepts relating to hierarchy or distinction; she sees any distinction as leading to the acceptance of other kinds of distinctions, thus leading to prejudice. She writes that as a politically liberal feminist, she must reject distinctions made between men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, Jews and non-Jews, and to some extent even distinctions between the Sabbath and the other six days of the week. She thus rejects idea of chosenness as unethical. She also rejects Jewish theology in general, and instead holds to a form of religious humanism. Falk writes:
The idea of Israel as God's chosen people [...] is a key concept in rabbinic Judaism. Yet it is particularly problematic for many Jews today, in that it seems to fly in the face of monotheistic belief that all humanity is created in the divine image - and hence, all humanity is equally loved and valued by God [...] I find it difficult to conceive of a feminist Judaism that would incorporate it in its teaching: the valuing of one people over and above others is all too analogous to the privileging of one sex over another.
Reconstructionist author Judith Plaskow also criticises the idea of chosenness, for many of the same reasons as Falk. A politically liberal lesbian, Plaskow rejects most distinctions made between men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, and Jews and non-Jews. In contrast to Falk, Plaskow does not reject all concepts of difference as inherently leading to unethical beliefs, and holds to a more classical form of Jewish theism than Falk.
A number of responses to these views have been made by Reform and Conservative Jews; they hold that these criticisms are against teachings that do not exist within liberal forms of Judaism, and which are rare in Orthodox Judaism (outside certain Haredi communities, such as Chabad). A separate criticism stems from the very existence of feminist forms of Judaism in all denominations of Judaism, which do not have a problem with the concepts of chosenness.
Views from other religions
The children of Israel enjoy a special status in the Islamic book, the Quran:
O children of Israel, remember my favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I favored you above all creation. (Qur'an 2:47). 2:122).
However, Muslim scholars point out that this status did not confer upon Israelites any racial superiority, and was only valid so long as the Israelites maintain their covenant with God,
Indeed God had taken the covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve leaders among them. And God said: "I am with you if you establish the prayer and offer the Zakat (compulsory charity) and believe in My Messengers; honor and assist them, and lend to God a good loan. Verily, I will remit your sins and admit you to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise). But if any of you after this, disbelieve, he has indeed gone astray from the Straight Path." (Quran 5:12)
Some Christians believe that the Jews were God's chosen people (Deuteronomy 14:2), but because of Jewish Rejection of Jesus, the Christians in turn received that special status (Romans 11:11-24). This doctrine is known as Supersessionism.
However, most other Christians are of the view that all people who turn to Christ as their personal saviour are 'chosen' in the context of John 15:16 whereby Jesus referred to God's plan of salvation as his great redeeming work on the cross, that all who come to faith in him does so freely and are 'chosen' to bear 'fruit that lasts'. 1 Peter 2:9 refers to these (Christians) as 'chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession' .
Influence on relations with other religions
Avi Beker, a scholar and the former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, regards the idea of the chosen people as Judaism's defining concept which is "the central unspoken psychological, historical, and theological problem at the heart of Jewish-Gentile relations." Beker views the concept of choseness as the driving force behind Jewish-Gentile relations, which explains both the admiration and, more pointedly, the envy and hatred the world has felt for the Jews in religious and also secular terms. Beker argues that while Christianity has modified its doctrine on the displacement of the Jews, he accuses Islam of not reversing or reforming its theology on the succession of both the Jews and the Christians. According to Baker, this presents a major barrier to conflict resolution in the Arab-Israeli conflict.[page needed]
Ethnocentrism and racism
Israeli philosopher Ze’ev Levy writes that chosenness can be "(partially) justified only from the historical angle" with respect to its spiritual and moral contribution to Jewish life thorough centuries, "a powerful agent of consolation and hope". He points out however that modern anthropological theories "do not merely proclaim the inherent universal equality of all people [as] human beings; they also stress the equivalence of all human cultures." (emphasis in original) He continues that "there are no inferior and superior people or cultures but only different, other, ones." He concludes that the concept of chosenness entails ethnocentrism, "which does not go hand in hand with otherness, that is, with unconditional respect of otherness".
Some people have claimed that Judaism's chosen people concept is racist because it implies that Jews are superior to non-Jews. The Anti-Defamation League, and other authorities, assert that the concept of a chosen people within Judaism has nothing to do with racial superiority, but rather is a description of the special relationship between God and Jews.
- Translation by Philip Birnbaum, "High Holyday Prayerbook"
- Beẓah, 25b
- Mek. Yitro, Pes. R. K. 103b, 186a, 200a
- Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 86b; Bacher, "Ag. Tan." ii. 31
- Ex. R. xxxvi:1.
- Cant. R. ii. 2
- Midr. Teh. i. 4
- Weber's "System der Altsynagogalen Theologie", etc., pp. 59-69, is full of glaring errors and misstatements on the subject of Israel as the chosen people
- The State of Jewish Belief: A Symposium Compiled by the Editors of Commentary Magazine, August 1966
- Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism, JTSA, New York, 1988, p.33-34
- Reuven Hammer, Or Hadash, The Rabbinical Assembly, New York, 2003
- The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism, Columbus, Ohio, 1937
- Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism, adopted at the 1999 Pittsburgh Convention, Central Conference of American Rabbis
- Lessons in Tanya, Vol. 1, Ch. 1
- סידור הרב, שער אכילת מצה
- Dov Ber Pinson, Reincarnation and Judaism
- ר' אברהם חן, במלכות היהדות (Rabbi Abraham Chen, "In the Kingdom of Judaism")
- Likutei Moharan, Part 2 ,5
- Isaac Arama, Akedat Yitzchak, Ch. 60
- Gregg Stern. Philosophy and Rabbinic Culture: Jewish Interpretation and Controversy in Medieval Languedoc. Routledge Jewish Studies Series
- Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot, newsletter, September 1986, pages D, E.
- e.g. Mitchell Max, The Chosen People: Reclaiming Our Sacred Myth
- Falk, 1996
- M. Abdulsalam. "Is the Quran Anti-Semitic?: The Semites, a Chosen People."
- Liberation and reconciliation: a Black theology p. 24
- The Collegeville Bible Commentary: Based on the New American Bible, Robert J. Karris, Liturgical Press, 1992, p. 1042
- Avi Beker, The Chosen: The History of Idea, and the Anatomy of an Obsession, New York: Palgrave Macmilan, 2008, Preface
- Ze’ev Levy, Judaism and Chosenness: On Some Controversial Aspects from Spinoza to Contemporary Jewish Thought, in Daniel H. Frank, ed. (1993). A People apart: chosenness and ritual in Jewish philosophical thought. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1631-0., p. 104
- Dinstien, Yoram (Ed.), Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 1987, Volume 17; Volume 1987, p 29
- Espanioly, Nabilia, "Nightmare", in Women and the politics of military confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli gendered narratives of dislocation, Nahla Abdo-Zubi, Berghahn Books, 2002, p 108
- Sharoni, Simona, "Feminist Reflections on the Interplay between Racism and Sexism in Israel", in Challenging racism and sexism: alternatives to genetic explanations, Ethel Tobach, Betty Rosoff (Eds), Feminist Press, 1994, p 319
- Beker, Avi, Chosen: the history of an idea, the anatomy of an obsession, Macmillan, 2008, p 131, 139, 151
- Brown, Wesley, Christian Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, p 66
- Jacob, Jonathan, Israel: a divided Promised Land, p 69
- According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League, "By selectively citing various passages from the Talmud and Midrash, polemicists have sought to demonstrate that Judaism espouses hatred for non-Jews (and specifically for Christians), and promotes obscenity, sexual perversion, and other immoral behavior. To make these passages serve their purposes, these polemicists frequently mistranslate them or cite them out of context (wholesale fabrication of passages is not unknown)..."
- In distorting the normative meanings of rabbinic texts, anti-Talmud writers frequently remove passages from their textual and historical contexts. Even when they present their citations accurately, they judge the passages based on contemporary moral standards, ignoring the fact that the majority of these passages were composed close to two thousand years ago, by people living in cultures radically different from our own. They are thus able to ignore Judaism's long history of social progress and paint it instead as a primitive and parochial religion.
- Those who attack the Talmud frequently cite ancient rabbinic sources without noting subsequent developments in Jewish thought, and without making a good-faith effort to consult with contemporary Jewish authorities, who can explain the role of these sources in normative Jewish thought and practice. - from The Talmud in Anti-Semitic Polemics Anti-Defamation League. February 2003.
- Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote:
Even as the Jew is moved by his private Sinaitic Covenant with God to embody and preserve the teachings of the Torah, he is committed to the belief that all mankind, of whatever color or creed, is "in His image" and is possessed of an inherent human dignity and worthiness. Man's singularity is derived from the breath "He [God] breathed into his nostrils at the moment of creation" (Genesis 2:7). Thus, we do share in the universal historical experience, and God's providential concern does embrace all of humanity. - Man of Faith in the Modern World, p. 74
- Such misuse of the Talmud by the Soviet authorities was exposed in a 1984 hearing record before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations in the US Congress concerning the Soviet Jewry,
This vicious anti-Semitic canard, frequently repeated by other Soviet writers and officials, is based upon the malicious notion that the "Chosen People" of the Torah and Talmud preaches "superiority over other peoples", as well as exclusivity. This was, of course, the principal theme of the notorious Tsarist Protocols of the Elders of Zion. - from "Soviet Jewry: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations". United States Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. 1984. p.56
- Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism, JTSA, New York, 1988, p. 33-34
- Platform on Reconstructionism Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot, September 1986, pages D, E
- Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism, 1999 Pittsburgh convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
- Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing
- Ismar Elbogen Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History JPS, 1993. The most thorough academic study of the Jewish liturgy ever written.
- Marcia Falk The Book of Blessings HarperSanFranciso, 1996
- Reuven Hammer, Ed. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003
- Nosson Scherman, Ed. The Complete Artscroll Siddur, Mesorah Publications, 2nd edition, 1986
- Eisen, Arnold M. (1990). "The Rhetoric of Chosenness and the Fabrication of American Jewish Identiy". In Lipset, Seymour Martin. American pluralism and the Jewish community. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0-88738-286-4.
- Daniel H. Frank, ed. (1993). A People apart: chosenness and ritual in Jewish philosophical thought. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1631-0. (Part 1. Chosenness)
- The Contemporary Rivalry over the Chosen People: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives - Avi Beker at the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs
- Chosen people at the Jewish Encyclopedia
- Beliefs of Reform Judaism
- The Jewish concept of chosenness
- The Chosen People FAQs
- Some are Chosen, All are Loved. Rabbi Gilbert S. Rosenthal
- The Chosen People: Reclaiming Our Sacred Myth, Mitchell Max
- How does Jewish Pride differ from Nazi Supremacy?, Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Charges of racism
- Anti-Defamation League paper on Christian Identity
- The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord - a Christian Identity movement
- The Real Truth About The Talmud by Rabbi Gil Student. Exposes fraudulent or distorted Talmud quotes used by antisemites
- Are the Jews the Chosen People? chabad.org
- OzTorah - Isn't it arrogant and exclusionist for Jews to regard themselves as the Chosen People?