Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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.

In 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.

Judaism 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.