|Posted on October 8, 2018 at 10:30 PM|
"In the beginning" - (Genesis “Bereishit”):
Tishrei 29, 5779/October 8, 2018
“In the beginning YHWH created the heaven and the earth.”
YHWH created the space-mass-time universe on the first day of the Creation Week. No one of these elements can have a meaningful existence without the others. Space and matter must exist in time, and time requires space and matter. Time is only meaningful if physical entities exist and events transpire during time.
Yet, speech is the tool of creation, as in: “And YHWH said, ‘Let there be light’” (Bereshit 1:3). YHWH, in all His Splendor and Magnificence, created the entire universe, time, space and matter continuum with His voice, except for man, whom YHWH formed out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul - "speaking being" (Bereshit 2:7). YHWH gave man reign over all other creations through his power of speech. Therefore, the Torah so strongly emphasizes the need to guard our unique attribute of speech.
The 50 Gates; of Divine Energy are the basis of all of Torah; and the Chosen People of Israel as the human soul mirrors the Divine as written in Bereshit 1:27: “YHWH created man in His own image, in the image of YHWH He created him, male and female He created them.” Bereshit sets the world stage; YHWH made the world, universe and humankind; making the world humankind’s dwelling‐place. “For so says YHWH, the Creator of Heaven, He is YHWH who formed the earth, who made it and established it, who did not create it to be a void (tohu), but who formed it to be a dwelling (la‐ shevet)” (Isaiah 45:1). It further reads: “They shall make for Me a holy place and I shall dwell in their midst” (Exodus “Shemot” 25:8. “Surely YHWH is here in this place….It will be the house of YHWH” (Bereshit 28:16, 22).
The Chosen Children of Israel has a dwelling, la-shevet, which constitutes both time and space. Time systematically moved Israel to become a nation, chosen by YHWH at Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai represents YHWH’s election of Israel as the Chosen People. Israel’s dwelling through the desert; eventually was led by YHWH to occupied space at the foot of Mount Sinai, where the elected Chosen People received the covenant with all of its commandments. As Scripture puts it in the first creation narrative: “And YHWH said, ‘let there be light in the expanse of the sky to divide between day and night, and to be for signs and seasons, for days and for years”’ (Bereshit 1:14). Space in the creation narrative is ordered by its relation to the land of Israel. In the Torah, the idea for a Land of Israel is born adjacent with the idea for a People of Israel.
YHWH’s covenant with Abraham includes a promise that Abraham’s descendants will inherit the area from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. From the moment that YHWH liberates these descendants from slavery and the People of Israel transform from an idea into a reality, the Torah’s narrative arc has one end: inhabiting this Promised Land.
Now, man through the power of literary speech; uses the aleph bet to form words; personifications; similes; and metaphors. Cleverly, man puts pen to paper using words in its proper sequence to form myriads of interpretations from the Torah, thus stirring up emotions and conceptions among its readers. Thus, men have used his unique aspect of speech; and writing from the text in the Torah to substantiate “Jewish history” through the doctrine of “chosenness.” Chosenness in the Torah, began when YHWH singled out Abram “Abraham” with the command, “Go forth from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Bereshit 12:1); and the subsequent promise to bless Abraham and his descendants. This blessing, reiterated several times throughout the Torah, became the basis for the doctrine of chosenness–the idea that the Jewish people have a relationship with YHWH unlike that of any other nation. Throughout the centuries many people have claimed to be the Nation of Israel. So, who are the chosen Children of Israel and what is this widespread train of thought regarding “chosenness?”
Merriam-Webster: Definition of Jew
1 : a person belonging to a continuation through descent or conversion of the ancient Jewish people
2 : one whose religion is Judaism
3a : a member of the tribe of Judah
b : Israelite
4 : a member of a nation existing in Palestine from the sixth century b.c. to the first century a.d.
Wikipedia Definition of Chosenness: In Judaism, "chosenness" is the belief that the Jews, via descent from the ancient Israelites, are the chosen people, i.e. chosen to be in a covenant with YHWH.
The Meaning of Chosenness
The fundamental notion of the Chosen People is expressed in the distinction between “Israel” on the one hand, and the “Nations of the World” on the other. The Talmudic definition of nations other than Israel as “Nations of the World” means to convey the central idea behind the Divine choice of Israel: we were chosen to connect the world to an unworldly elevation, raising the world beyond its earthly level. The pinnacle of this achievement is the Temple, which forms a spiritual “embassy of YHWH” within the physical world.
Bereishit 28:12; Bereishit Rabbah 68:12 – Yaakov’s Ladder.
“He dreamt; and behold, a ladder stood on the ground, and its head reached the heavens. And behold, angels of YHWH ascended and descended upon it.”
The person who is complete is planted in Worlds Above, in the source of his soul, and passes through thousands of spiritual domains, until the lower part of his soul enters the physical body. This is the meaning of the verse “For the portion of YHWH is His nation, Yaakov is the rope of His inheritance” – his elevated soul is “a portion of YHWH,” from which he descends like a rope until he reaches the physical body. Every physical deed therefore has the power to make an impact at the elevation of the source, like a rope, whose upper end moves when its lower end is shaken.
The nation of Israel is named after Yaakov, the third and most perfected Patriarch, who was renamed Israel. Just as Yaakov united two worlds, the spiritual world above and our physical world, so the continued role of Israel is to unite two worlds.
The Sages term non-Jewish nations “Nations of the World.” They are essentially “of the world.”
Jewish life, by way of contrast, revolves around a third dimension, a plane of existence that connects the physical world with a higher, Divine existence. Unlike the Nations of the World, the deeds with which Israel is charged are therefore little understood by their human perpetrators – for they pertain to a Divine sphere that is “not of the world.”
The Chosen People of the Bible
From the time of the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the people of Israel were chosen as the nation of YHWH. They are called His sons, they are treasured by Him, and they possess an everlasting covenant with Him. Even non-Jewish leaders honest enough to take Scripture at face value readily accept the concept of chosenness.
Bereishit 17:7 – The Covenant with Abraham.
And I will establish this covenant between Me and you, and your children after you; throughout their generations it shall be an eternal covenant, that I shall be YHWH to you and your children after you.
Deuteronomy (Devarim) 7:6 – YHWH’s chosen treasure.
You are a holy nation to YHWH, your YHWH; YHWH, your YHWH, has chosen you to be for Him a treasured nation from all of the nations which are on the face of the earth.
The election of the Jewish people was sealed with the giving of the Torah. We proclaim this fact every morning and every time we are called to the Torah (“Aliyah”) The calling of a member of a Jewish congregation to the tebah for a portion of reading from the Torah.
Blessing over the Torah, Morning Prayers – The Jewish people were chosen to receive the Torah, the word of YHWH. Blessed are You, O Lord, our YHWH, King of the world, who chose us from all the nations, and gave us His Torah.
The Chosen People of History
It is not only the Torah that states that the Jews are the Chosen People. History itself reveals that there is something special about the Jewish people. In accordance with the prophecies, the Jewish people, homeless and hated by the nations, have somehow survived while other peoples have vanished. For the intellectually honest observer, this miraculous survival is a clear indication of the unique status of the Jewish people.
Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu) 30:11 – The survival of the Jewish people in contrast with other nations. For I am with you to save you, says YHWH; I will bring annihilation upon all the nations among whom I scattered you, but upon you I will not bring annihilation. Mark Twain, Concerning the Jews, Harper’s Magazine, March 1898 – What Yirmiyahu prophesied came to pass.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
Leo Tolstoy, What is the Jew? quoted in The Final Resolution page 189, The Jewish World Periodical, 1908 – The embodiment of eternity. What is the Jew? … What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish? What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew – is the symbol of eternity … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.
Winston Churchill, Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 8, 1920 – The most remarkable race.
Some people like Jews and some do not, but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.
Winston Churchill, speech given in Jerusalem, 1921, cited in Martin Gilbert, Churchill and the Jews, page 307 – What civilization owes the Jews.
We owe to the Jews … a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together. On that system and by that faith there has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization.
Chosenness: Ideology - Politics & Policy
Yes, Jews Are the Chosen People By Dennis Prager (a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist.) - May 17, 2011 4:00 AM
For good or ill
I assume that the type of person who reads columns such as this one has wondered at one time or another why, for thousands of years, there has been so much attention paid to Jews; and why, today, so much attention is paid to Israel, the lone Jewish state.
How do most people explain this preoccupation? There is no fully rational explanation for the amount of attention paid to the Jews and the Jewish state. And there is no fully rational explanation for the amount of hatred directed at them.
A lifetime of study of this issue, including writing (with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin) a book on antisemitism (Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism) has convinced me that, along with all the rational explanations, there is one explanation that transcends reason alone.
It is that the Jews are YHWH’s chosen people.
Now, believe me, dear reader, I am well aware of the hazards of making such a claim. It sounds chauvinistic. It sounds racist. And it sounds irrational, if not bizarre.
But it is none of these.
About, chauvinism, there is not a hint of inherent superiority in the claim of Jewish chosenness. In fact, the Jewish Bible, the book that states the Jews are chosen, constantly berates the Jews for their flawed moral behavior. No bible of any other religion is so critical of the religious group affiliated with that bible as the Hebrew Scriptures are of the Jews.
As for racism, Jewish chosenness cannot be racist by definition. Here is why: a) The Jews are not a race; there are Jews of every race. And b) any person of any race, ethnicity, or nationality can become a member of the Jewish people and thereby be as chosen as Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah or the chief rabbi of Israel.
And about chosenness being an irrational or even bizarre claim, it must be so only to atheists. They don’t believe in a Chooser, so they cannot believe in a Chosen. But for most believing Jews and Christians (most particularly the Founders who saw America as a Second Israel, a second Chosen People), Jewish Chosenness has been a given. And even the atheist must look at the evidence and conclude that the Jews play a role in history that defies reason.
Can reason alone explain how a hodgepodge of ex-slaves was able to change history — to introduce the moral YHWH-Creator we know as YHWH, to devise ethical monotheism; to write the world’s most influential book, the Bible; to be the only civilization to deny the cyclical worldview and give humanity belief in a linear (i.e., purposeful) history; to provide morality-driven prophets; and so much more — without YHWH playing the decisive role in this people’s history?
Without the Jews, there would be no Christianity (a fact acknowledged by the great majority of Christians); and no Islam (a fact acknowledged by almost no Muslims). Read Thomas Cahill’s “The Gifts of the Jews” or Paul Johnson’s “History of the Jews” to get an idea about how much this people changed history.
What further renders the claim for Jewish chosenness worthy of rational consideration is that virtually every other nation has perceived itself as chosen or otherwise divinely special. For example, China means “Middle Kingdom” in Chinese – meaning that China is at the center of the world; and Japan considers itself the land where the sun originates (“Land of the Rising Sun”) The difference between Jewish chosenness and other nations’ similar claims is that no one cares about any other group considering itself Chosen, while vast numbers of non-Jews have either believed the Jews’ claim or have hated the Jews for it.
Perhaps the greatest evidence for the Jews’ chosenness has been provided in modern times, during which time evil has consistently targeted the Jews:
• Nazi Germany was more concerned with exterminating the Jews than with winning World War II.
• Throughout its 70-year history, the Soviet Union persecuted its Jews and tried to extinguish Judaism. Hatred of Jews was one thing Communists and Nazis shared.
• The United Nations has spent more time discussing and condemning the Jewish state than any other country in the world. Yet this state is smaller than every Central American country, including El Salvador, Panama, and even Belize. Imagine if the amount of attention paid to Israel were paid to Belize — who would not think there was something extraordinary about that country?
• Much of the contemporary Muslim world — and nearly all the Arab world — is obsessed with annihilating the lone Jewish state.
In the words of Catholic scholar Fr. Edward Flannery, “the Jews carry the burden of YHWH in history.” Most Jews, being secular, do not believe this. And many Jews dislike talk of chosenness because they fear it will increase antisemitism; they may be right.
But it doesn’t alter the fact that the obsession with one of the smallest countries and smallest peoples on earth, and the unique hatred of the Jews and the Jewish state by the world’s most vicious ideologies can be best explained only in transcendent terms. Namely that YHWH, for whatever reason, chose the Jews.
Concept of Chosenness
The concept of "chosenness" in Judaism, holds that the Jewish people were singularly chosen to enter into a covenant with YHWH. This is a central theme found throughout the history of Jewish thought, deeply rooted in biblical ideology and was developed further in talmudic, philosophic, mystical and contemporary Judaism.
Most Jews hold that being the "Chosen People" means that they have been placed on earth to fulfill a certain purpose. Traditional proof for Jewish "chosenness" is found in the Torah, the Jewish bible, in the Book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 14) where it says: "For you are a holy people to Hashem your YHWH, and YHWH has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth." In the Book of Beresit (Chapter 17) it is also written: "And I [G-d] will establish My covenant between Me and you [the Jewish people] and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be YHWH to you and your descendants after you."
According to Judah Halevi's Kuzari, the entire Jewish people was endowed with a special religious ability, first given to Adam and then bequeathed through a line of chosen representatives to all of Israel.
It was because of the Jews willingness to accept and obey the Torah that YHWH chose them. This concept of chosenness has helped Jews to maintain loyalty to their tradition and halakhah.
During the 1930s, George Bernard Shaw remarked that if the Nazis would only realize how Jewish their notion of Aryan superiority was, they would drop it immediately. Later, in 1973, as a result, of the Yom Kippur War, Yakov Malik, the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations, said: "The Zionists have come forward with the theory of the Chosen People, an absurd ideology. That is religious racism." Indeed, the most damaging antisemitic document in history, the forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is based on the idea of an international conspiracy to rule the world by the "Chosen People."
Does the ideology of "chosenness" really mean that the Jews were divinely chosen? After all, how did the notion of one YHWH become known to the world? Through the Jews. And, according to Jewish sources, that is the meaning of chosenness: to make YHWH known to the world. As Rabbi Louis Jacobs has written: "We are not discussing a dogma incapable of verification, but the recognition of sober historical fact. The world owes to Israel the idea of the one God of righteousness and holiness. This is how YHWH became known to mankind."
Does Judaism believe that chosenness endows Jews with special rights in the way racist ideologies endow those born into the "right race"? Not at all. The most famous verse in the Bible on the subject of chosenness says the precise opposite: "You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth. That is why I call you to account for all your iniquities" (Amos 3:2). Chosenness is so unconnected to any notion of race that Jews believe that the Messiah himself will descend from Ruth, a non-Jewish woman who converted to Judaism.
Why were the Jews chosen? Because they are descendants of Abraham. And why were Abraham and his descendants given the task of making YHWH known to the world? The Torah never tells us. What YHWH does say in Deuteronomy "Devarim," is that "it is not because you are numerous that YHWH chose you, indeed you are the smallest of people" (7:7). Because of the Jews' small numbers, any success they would have in making YHWH known to the world would presumably reflect upon the power of the idea of YHWH. Had the Jews been a large nation with an outstanding army, their successes in making YHWH known would have been attributed to their might and not to the truth of their ideas. After all, non-Muslims living in the Arab world were hardly impressed by the large numbers of people brought to Islam through the sword.
The "Chosen People" idea is so powerful that other religious sects have appropriated it. Both Catholicism and Protestantism believe that YHWH chose the Jews, but that two thousand years ago a new covenant was made with Christianity. During most of Christian history, and even among some adherents to the present day, Christian chosenness meant that only Christians go to heaven while the non-chosen are either placed in limbo or are damned.
Mohammed, likewise, didn't deny Abraham's chosenness. He simply claimed that Abraham was a Muslim, and he traced Islam's descent through the Jewish Patriarch.
How powerful is this universal concept of "CHOSENNESS"...The election of the "Jewish" ISRAELITE people was sealed with the giving of the Torah. We "ISRAEL" proclaim this fact every morning and every time we are called to the Torah (“Aliyah”)?