December 11, 2013
Recently I was studying with a family the concept in Judaism of Chosenness. It is a difficult idea to think of our people as the Chosen Ones.
Throughout our history this has been a challenging description of our
particularism, but it has also given us the charge to rise up, to be
better than we were the day before...simply because we are Chosen.
Yet, I have trouble with this idea and I am not sure if the issue of
having been chosen lends us a false sense of elitism or whether ti
developed as a survival mechanism.
the course of learning with this family, we explored the stories of
Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. We examined passages from our Tanakah, our
Midrash and from Islam's Koran and even Christian Scriptures as they all
related to Abraham and how he was chosen to begin this movement...the
one we now call Judaism. Over the course of our hour plus session of
learning, we did not reach an answer or conclusion about whether Chosenness
is about being better - elitism or a survival mechanism. However, one
thing we did realize, one important realization we had was that the
story, that of Abraham, has survived. It has survived with such staying
power that it has led to other major world religions, it has been
commented on by countless people throughout history and this fact, that
the story survives means the people survivies. The realization we had
was that when the story survives the people survives.
lives on with such strength today because we keep the story going. Not
simply retelling it, but adding layers to it in each generation...each
week on Shabbat when we study a new portion. Over the last couple
months, our Torah study group at the Temple has grown by leaps and
bounds. Not entirely in numbers, although it is now regularly attended
by a great group of learners, but certainly in discussion. Our debates,
our learning and our growing adds story to our story...that is what
keeps Judaism alive, vibrant and blossoming. I'm not sure what we were
chosen for, if anything at all. But, one thing we do well is discuss
(read: debate) Torah.