IS THE CHOSEN PEOPLE A RACIST IDEA?
Part 1: Defining the Meaning of “Chosen People”
The Questions – “Chosen People” raises many different questions:
- Why does any group need to be chosen or different from everybody else?
2. Is the existence of a single chosen group within mankind an ideal situation?
3. What exactly does it mean to be chosen?
4. If we were, in fact, chosen, what were we chosen for?
What was man created for?
In order to answer these questions, we first must address a more fundamental issue — why did G-d create us, and what is the purpose of mankind? Since G-d is perfect and lacking nothing, the creation cannot be in any way for G-d. It can’t be because, for example, G-d was bored, curious, or lonely. The purpose must, therefore, be for the sake of the creation. Derech Hashem explains that this is why the creation must be for the benefit and pleasure of mankind — the most elevated aspect of the entire creation.
G-d therefore placed man in Gan Eden (a “garden of paradise”). The single “flaw” of Gan Eden is that G-d did not make it complete and eternal. He gave that job to mankind (Adam and Chava); they were supposed to use their free will to make it complete. This process would then bring the world to its final and ultimate perfection. In other words, if Adam and Chava would have used their free will correctly, they would have transformed Gan Eden from a temporal paradise into the permanent paradise it was meant to be. Then, they and all of their descendants would have lived there and related to G-d forever, without ever having needed to die. Mankind would then have been able to enjoy this bliss for all of eternity.
Having failed this task, however, Adam and Chava (i.e., mankind) were forced to leave Gan Eden, and to live within our temporal world. Still, mankind’s goal to perfect the world remained unchanged. This meant that people would need to use their free will within the temporal environment of this world to transform it into a permanent existence. The goal of history and of mankind has, therefore, always been to return to Gan Eden — post-test.
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Rabbi Asher Resnick serves as a senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah’s Executive Learning Center, and is a senior training lecturer for Aish’s Rabbinical Ordination program. As a close student of Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, he developed a special expertise in addressing fundamental issues in Judaism, as well as in bringing classical texts to life. As a bereaved parent, Rabbi Resnick’s extensive writings on loss, suffering and trauma provide a sensitive Jewish perspective on coping with these fundamental life cycle issues. OlamiResources.com is happy to highlight several essays over the coming months featured on his website JewishClarity.com. This essay should be l’zechut ul’iluy nishmat Ruchama Rivka, a”h, bat Asher Zevulun.