“Chosen” People? Tolerated, Perhaps. (Ha’azinu: Deuteronomy 32: 19-28)
Ha’azinu has put the term, “Chosen People” into a new perspective for me. And I can’t say that I like it.
In my previous post, I wrote about the power of choice and the personal responsibility we should accept for our choices. I based this on my understanding of God ‘s relenting on His decision to destroy us for our lack of faith and reversion to idolatry at Mount Sinai as a result of Moses pleading for our lives.
Nechama Leibowitz suggested that God did NOT decide to spare us for OUR sakes, but rather for the sake of all of humanity. She argued that if the other nations saw that God had destroyed us, they would incorrectly conclude that the One God of the Jews is not a true god after all, and they would be even less inclined to toss out their idols and put their faith in the intangible God of monotheism.
Since God was interested in the progression of humankind to higher levels of spirituality, He decided NOT to destroy his “chosen” people.
Rather than rejoicing, we should comport ourselves with greater humility. Perhaps we no longer deserve the moniker “Chosen People”. Perhaps today we are more tolerated than respected by God, Himself.
All the arrogance I see among so many Jews about how special we are and how we are a “light unto the nations” seems out of place If we were saved, not because we are especially spiritual and Godly, but simply because the alternative was much worse in global terms. If this is true, then we have nothing to brag about.
Let there be no mistake – I am proud of my membership in the Jewish people. I am proud of our accomplishments in the fields of science, agriculture, psychology and more. I am proud of our having coming home to redevelop our ancient homeland. And I hope everyone is proud of their own nations and cultural and ethnic groups.
At the same time, there is nothing to make us any better than anyone else, any more enlightened than anyone else, etc.
Remember, if it weren’t for God thinking more about His entire world of creation than about us, we may have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Feature Image Credit: By Herrad von Landsberg (Hortus Deliciarum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons