One of the most controversial issues is the description of Jews as the Chosen People, based on a verse in this week’s Torah portion. This has been the cause of so much hatred and resentment of the gentile world throughout history. How can we understand the meaning of the Chosen People in any way other than an elitist, condescending statement?
This sermon is all about choices – God’s choices, our choices.
What does it mean to be chosen? What does it mean to choose?
Do we choose what is best for us, or what is the most valuable?
If that were the case, Canada would definitely seem a better choice than Canaan (as far as choosing the Promised Land is concerned).
Canada is humongous, while Canaan is tiny. Canada is pregnant with natural resources, while Canaan is part desert, part rocky mountain. Canada has pleasant neighbors to the south and west (the USA) and even more pleasant neighbors to the north and east (the Arctic, the Atlantic), while Canaan has very unpleasant neighbors to the east, west, north and south (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Gaza), and if you stretch a little further, there is also the Islamic State, Iraq and Iran, etc.
No one is threatening to push Canada into the Mediterranean or drop a nuclear bomb on its head, while Canaan – better known today as Israel – is the subject of such threats daily.
Perhaps we may understand the choosing of Israel (the land) by understanding an even more perplexing choice: the choosing of Israel (the people).
Is it racist to be Jewish and chosen? Is it egalitarian for the Torah to say: You are children of the Lord, your God … you are a holy people to the Lord, your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a treasured people for Him, out of all the nations that are upon the earth.
Well, is it?
Most importantly: Should we teach our children that they are chosen?