There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.
(ג) וּמֹשֶׁ֥ה עָלָ֖ה אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֵלָ֤יו יְהוָה֙ מִן־הָהָ֣ר לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לְבֵ֣ית יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְתַגֵּ֖יד לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ד) אַתֶּ֣ם רְאִיתֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי לְמִצְרָ֑יִם וָאֶשָּׂ֤א אֶתְכֶם֙ עַל־כַּנְפֵ֣י נְשָׁרִ֔ים וָאָבִ֥א אֶתְכֶ֖ם אֵלָֽי׃ (ה) וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־שָׁמ֤וֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ בְּקֹלִ֔י וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֑י וִהְיִ֨יתֶם לִ֤י סְגֻלָּה֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים כִּי־לִ֖י כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (ו) וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ז) וַיָּבֹ֣א מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּקְרָ֖א לְזִקְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיָּ֣שֶׂם לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהוָֽה׃ (ח) וַיַּעֲנ֨וּ כָל־הָעָ֤ם יַחְדָּו֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה נַעֲשֶׂ֑ה וַיָּ֧שֶׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל־יְהוָֽה׃
(3) and Moses went up to God. Adonai called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel: (4) ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. (5) Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, (6) but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (7) Moses came and summoned the elders of the people and put before them all that Adonai had commanded him. (8) All the people answered as one, saying, “All that Adonai has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the people’s words to Adonai.
Jewish Study Bible
Treasured possession, Heb “segulah” is personal property: the private property of a king, as distinct from that used for public purposes (1 Chron. 29:3; Eccl. 2:8), or of economic dependents, such as a wife’s nest egg or the “peculium” of a son or slave. One’s personal stake in his private property gives it the connotation of something “treasured.” Although God owns all things, if Israel accepts God's covenant God will cherish Israel because of God's personal relationship with it. A Hittite king described one of his vassals by this term, and an ancient Syrian royal seal describes the king as the servant, beloved, and treasure of the gods.
(ו) כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר ׀ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה מִכֹּל֙ הָֽעַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ (ס) (ז) לֹ֣א מֵֽרֻבְּכֶ֞ם מִכָּל־הָֽעַמִּ֗ים חָשַׁ֧ק יְהוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם וַיִּבְחַ֣ר בָּכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֥ם הַמְעַ֖ט מִכָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃ (ח) כִּי֩ מֵֽאַהֲבַ֨ת יְהוָ֜ה אֶתְכֶ֗ם וּמִשָּׁמְר֤וּ אֶת־הַשְּׁבֻעָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּע֙ לַאֲבֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם הוֹצִ֧יא יְהוָ֛ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֑ה וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֔ים מִיַּ֖ד פַּרְעֹ֥ה מֶֽלֶךְ־מִצְרָֽיִם׃
(6) For you are a people consecrated to Adonai your God: of all the peoples on earth Adonai your God chose you to be His treasured people. (7) It is not because you are the most numerous of peoples that Adonai set God's heart on you and chose you—indeed, you are the smallest of peoples; (8) but it was because Adonai favored you and kept the oath He made to your fathers that Adonai freed you with a mighty hand and rescued you from the house of bondage, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
(א) לֹֽא־יִ֠הְיֶה לַכֹּהֲנִ֨ים הַלְוִיִּ֜ם כָּל־שֵׁ֧בֶט לֵוִ֛י חֵ֥לֶק וְנַחֲלָ֖ה עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אִשֵּׁ֧י יְהוָ֛ה וְנַחֲלָת֖וֹ יֹאכֵלֽוּן׃ (ב) וְנַחֲלָ֥ה לֹא־יִֽהְיֶה־לּ֖וֹ בְּקֶ֣רֶב אֶחָ֑יו יְהוָה֙ ה֣וּא נַחֲלָת֔וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּר־לֽוֹ׃ (ס) (ג) וְזֶ֡ה יִהְיֶה֩ מִשְׁפַּ֨ט הַכֹּהֲנִ֜ים מֵאֵ֣ת הָעָ֗ם מֵאֵ֛ת זֹבְחֵ֥י הַזֶּ֖בַח אִם־שׁ֣וֹר אִם־שֶׂ֑ה וְנָתַן֙ לַכֹּהֵ֔ן הַזְּרֹ֥עַ וְהַלְּחָיַ֖יִם וְהַקֵּבָֽה׃ (ד) רֵאשִׁ֨ית דְּגָֽנְךָ֜ תִּֽירֹשְׁךָ֣ וְיִצְהָרֶ֗ךָ וְרֵאשִׁ֛ית גֵּ֥ז צֹאנְךָ֖ תִּתֶּן־לּֽוֹ׃ (ה) כִּ֣י ב֗וֹ בָּחַ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ מִכָּל־שְׁבָטֶ֑יךָ לַעֲמֹ֨ד לְשָׁרֵ֧ת בְּשֵׁם־יְהוָ֛ה ה֥וּא וּבָנָ֖יו כָּל־הַיָּמִֽים׃ (ס)
(1) The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no territorial portion with Israel. They shall live only off Adonai’s offerings by fire as their portion, (2) and shall have no portion among their brother tribes: Adonai is their portion, as He promised them. (3) This then shall be the priests’ due from the people: Everyone who offers a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep, must give the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach to the priest. (4) You shall also give him the first fruits of your new grain and wine and oil, and the first shearing of your sheep. (5) For Adonai your God has chosen him and his descendants, out of all your tribes, to be in attendance for service in the name of Adonai for all time.
(יז) אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה הֶאֱמַ֖רְתָּ הַיּ֑וֹם לִהְיוֹת֩ לְךָ֨ לֵֽאלֹהִ֜ים וְלָלֶ֣כֶת בִּדְרָכָ֗יו וְלִשְׁמֹ֨ר חֻקָּ֧יו וּמִצְוֺתָ֛יו וּמִשְׁפָּטָ֖יו וְלִשְׁמֹ֥עַ בְּקֹלֽוֹ׃ (יח) וַֽיהוָ֞ה הֶאֱמִֽירְךָ֣ הַיּ֗וֹם לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּר־לָ֑ךְ וְלִשְׁמֹ֖ר כָּל־מִצְוֺתָֽיו׃
(17) You have affirmed this day that Adonai is your God, that you will walk in God's ways, that you will observe God's laws and commandments and rules, and that you will obey God. (18) And Adonai has affirmed this day that you are, as God promised you, God's treasured people who shall observe all of God's commandments.
(22) Thereupon Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have by your own act chosen to serve Adonai.” “Yes, we are!” they responded.
(כא) וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ אֵלִיָּ֜הוּ אֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֗ם וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ עַד־מָתַ֞י אַתֶּ֣ם פֹּסְחִים֮ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֣י הַסְּעִפִּים֒ אִם־יְהוָ֤ה הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ לְכ֣וּ אַחֲרָ֔יו וְאִם־הַבַּ֖עַל לְכ֣וּ אַחֲרָ֑יו וְלֹֽא־עָנ֥וּ הָעָ֛ם אֹת֖וֹ דָּבָֽר׃
(לט) וַיַּרְא֙ כָּל־הָעָ֔ם וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ יְהוָה֙ ה֣וּא הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים יְהוָ֖ה ה֥וּא הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃
(21) Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you keep hopping between two opinions? If Adonai is God, follow Adonai; and if Baal, follow Baal!” But the people answered him not a word.
(39) When they saw this, all the people flung themselves on their faces and cried out: “Adonai alone is God, Adonai alone is God!”
(כג) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא תִּהְיֶ֨ה מְסִלָּ֤ה מִמִּצְרַ֙יִם֙ אַשּׁ֔וּרָה וּבָֽא־אַשּׁ֥וּר בְּמִצְרַ֖יִם וּמִצְרַ֣יִם בְּאַשּׁ֑וּר וְעָבְד֥וּ מִצְרַ֖יִם אֶת־אַשּֽׁוּר׃ (ס)
(כד) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא יִהְיֶ֤ה יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ שְׁלִ֣ישִׁיָּ֔ה לְמִצְרַ֖יִם וּלְאַשּׁ֑וּר בְּרָכָ֖ה בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָאָֽרֶץ׃
(כה) אֲשֶׁ֧ר בֵּרֲכ֛וֹ יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת לֵאמֹ֑ר בָּר֨וּךְ עַמִּ֜י מִצְרַ֗יִם וּמַעֲשֵׂ֤ה יָדַי֙ אַשּׁ֔וּר וְנַחֲלָתִ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ס)
23) In that day, there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians shall join with the Egyptians and Egyptians with the Assyrians, and then the Egyptians together with the Assyrians shall serve [the LORD]. (24) In that day, Israel shall be a third partner with Egypt and Assyria as a blessing on earth; (25) for Adonai Tz'vaot will bless them, saying, “Blessed be My people Egypt, My handiwork Assyria, and Israel My [inheritance/possession/'very own'].”
Jewish Study Bible
The universal kingdom of God. Even the archenemies of the Israelites will recognize the one God. Consequently, two empires that perennially fought each other (Egypt and Assyria) and a small nation variously attacked by either one (Israel) will be at peace with each other. Some rabbinic commentators (Targum, Rashi) were troubled by v. 25, which puts Israel’s enemies on an equal spiritual footing with Israel. They paraphrase as follows: “Blessed be My people Israel, who came out of Egypt and saw My handiwork, which I performed against Assyria.” This far–reaching reinterpretation is rejected by other rabbinic authorities (such as Radak), who insist the v. carries the strong universal message it so clearly presents.
Ephraim E. Urbach astutely located two different rabbinic views of the election of Israel. The first view he called "cosmic-eternal," defining it as one that teaches that "the election of Israel was conceived together with the creation of the world," thus making it "something absolute and not contingent on any stipulations whatsoever." The second view he called "historical-relative," defining it as one that teaches that election is "connected to stipulations and conditions, and in which the people fulfills an active role wherein it is also the elector (הבוחר).
The Election of Israel, David Novak, pg. 203-204
(א) כי יעקב בחר לו יה ישראל. ואומר: כי חלק ה' עמו יעקב חבל נחלתו. ועדין תלי בדלא תלי, אין אנו יודעים אם המקום בחר לו ישראל לסגולתו ואם ישראל בחרו להקב"ה?
ת"ל (דברים ז) בְּךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר ׀ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה (ב) ומנין שאף יעקב בחר לו הקב"ה? שנא' (ירמיה י) לא כאלה חלק יעקב כי יוצר הכל הוא, וישראל שבט נחלתו ה' צבאות שמו:
(1) "For Adonai has chosen Jacob for Godself..." (Psalm 135:4). The matter is still inconclusive, for we do not know whether it is Adonai who has chosen Israel as God's treasure or it is Israel who has chosen Adonai.
It is, therefore, written (Deuteronomy 7:6) "Adonai your God has chosen you (Israel) to be unto God a select people."
(2) And whence do we derive that Jacob, likewise, chose HaKadosh Baruch Hu? From (Jeremiah 10:16) "Not as those is the portion of Jacob, for He is the Former of all, and Israel is the tribe of God's inheritance; Adonai Tzvaot is God's name."
(יד) נִבְעַ֤ר כָּל־אָדָם֙ מִדַּ֔עַת הֹבִ֥ישׁ כָּל־צוֹרֵ֖ף מִפָּ֑סֶל כִּ֛י שֶׁ֥קֶר נִסְכּ֖וֹ וְלֹא־ר֥וּחַ בָּֽם׃ (טו) הֶ֣בֶל הֵ֔מָּה מַעֲשֵׂ֖ה תַּעְתֻּעִ֑ים בְּעֵ֥ת פְּקֻדָּתָ֖ם יֹאבֵֽדוּ׃ (טז) לֹֽא־כְאֵ֜לֶּה חֵ֣לֶק יַעֲקֹ֗ב כִּֽי־יוֹצֵ֤ר הַכֹּל֙ ה֔וּא וְיִ֨שְׂרָאֵ֔ל שֵׁ֖בֶט נַֽחֲלָת֑וֹ יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמֽוֹ׃ (ס)
(14) Every goldsmith is put to shame because of the idol, For his molten image is a deceit—There is no breath in them.
(15) They are delusion, a work of mockery; In their hour of doom, they shall perish.
16) Not like these is the Portion of Jacob; For it is God who formed all things, And Israel is God's very own tribe: Adonai Tzvaot is His name.
The use of this prooftext from Jeremiah is important because, as with many rabbinic homilies, one must know not only which part of a verse has been quoted, but also which part of it has not been quoted. The part of the verse not quotes states "for God is the creator (yotzer) of all, and Israel is God's very own tribe (shevet nahalato)." Thus the verse in its entirety seems to be asserting the consistent Scriptural doctrine that it is God who chooses Israel. If so, how do the Rabbis turn its meaning around? Bu, as the late Israeli rabbinics scholar Ephraim E. Urbach astutely comments, the Rabbis are reading this verse in the context of the preceding two verses of this chapter (14-15), which speak of the nations of the world choosing their own, unsubstantial, gods. Just as they choose their gods, Israel chooses her God. The act itself is similar; it is the respective objects that are different in kind. The object of Israel's choice is true; the object of their choice is false.
The Election of Israel, David Novak, pg. 166
The Gemara cites additional homiletic interpretations on the topic of the revelation at Sinai. The Torah says, “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lowermost part of the mount” (Exodus 19:17). Rabbi Avdimi bar Ḥama bar Ḥasa said: the Jewish people actually stood beneath the mountain, and the verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, overturned the mountain above the Jews like a tub, and said to them: If you accept the Torah, excellent, and if not, there will be your burial. Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: From here there is a substantial caveat to the obligation to fulfill the Torah. The Jewish people can claim that they were coerced into accepting the Torah, and it is therefore not binding. Rava said: Even so, they again accepted it willingly in the time of Ahasuerus, as it is written: “The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them” (Esther 9:27), and he taught: The Jews ordained what they had already taken upon themselves through coercion at Sinai.
(צח) (צב) אמר הכוזרי: השמר לך החבר לבל תפליג בספור שבחיה של אמתך ולבל תסיח דעתך מן הדבר הנודע ברבים דבר המרותם את אלהיהם על אף המעמדות האלה שמע שמעתי כי בעצם הימים ההם עשו להם עגל ויעבדו לו ולא לאלוה:
(צט) (צג) אמר החבר: חטא אשר גנוהו הם עצמם מתוך גדולתם ואין גדול כי אם מי שחטאיו ספורים:
(ק) (צד) אמר הכוזרי: אינך אומר כך כי אם דרך הפרזה ומתוך משוא פנים לעמך וכי יש לך חטא גדול מזה ומה מעשה טוב ישאר להם אחר זה:
(קא) (צה) אמר החבר: כתר לי זעיר ואוכיח לך גדלת העם הזה ודי לי בעדות שהעידה התורה כי אותם בחר האלוה לו לעם ולאמר מבין כל אמות העולם וכי הענין האלוהי חל בכל המונם עד שנעשו כלם ראויים לשמע את הדבור האלוהי... היו ביניהם גם חוטאים שנואי אלוה אבל אין ספק שגם הם היו סגלה מבחינה ידועה שהרי מצד שרשם וטבעם היה בהם מן הסגלה ועתידים היו להוליד בנים שיהיו סגלה כך יש להזהר באב החוטא שכן הוא הנושא את זרע הסגלה אשר בהזדככו תתגלה בבנו או בבן בנו...
92. Al Khazari: Take care, O Rabbi, lest too great indulgence in the description of the superiority of thy people make thee not unbearable, causing thee to overlook what is known of their disobedience in spite of the revelation. I have heard that in the midst of it they made a calf and worshipped it.
93. The Rabbi: A sin which was reckoned all the heavier on account of their greatness. Great is he whose sins are counted
94. Al Khazari: This is what makes thee tedious and makes thee appear partial to thy people. What sin could be greater than this, and what deed could have exceeded this?
95. The Rabbi: Bear with me a little while that I show the lofty station of the people. For me it is sufficient that God chose them as His people from all nations of the world, and allowed His influence to rest on all of them, and that they nearly approached being addressed by Him.... If disobedient men existed among them, they were hated, but remained, without doubt, of the essence inasmuch as they were part of it on account of their descent and nature, and begat children who were of the same stamp. An ungodly man received consideration in proportion to the minuteness of the essence with which he was endowed, for it reappeared in his children and grandchildren according to the purity of their lineage...
(א) חַיָּבִין אָנוּ לְהִזָּהֵר בְּמִצְוַת צְדָקָה יוֹתֵר מִכָּל מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה. שֶׁהַצְּדָקָה סִימָן לַצַּדִּיק זֶרַע אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יח יט) "כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו" (בראשית יח יט) "לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה". וְאֵין כִּסֵּא יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְכּוֹנֵן וְדַת הָאֱמֶת עוֹמֶדֶת אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נד יד) "בִּצְדָקָה תִּכּוֹנָנִי". וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א כז) "צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה":
(ב) לְעוֹלָם אֵין אָדָם מַעֲנִי מִן הַצְּדָקָה וְאֵין דָּבָר רַע וְלֹא הֶזֵּק נִגְלָל בִּשְׁבִיל הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה לב יז) "וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם." כָּל הַמְרַחֵם מְרַחֲמִין עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג יח) "וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ". וְכָל מִי שֶׁהוּא אַכְזָרִי וְאֵינוֹ מְרַחֵם יֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לְיַחֲסוֹ. שֶׁאֵין הָאַכְזָרִיּוּת מְצוּיָה אֶלָּא בְּעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה נ מב) "אַכְזָרִי הֵמָּה וְלֹא יְרַחֵמוּ". וְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַנִּלְוֶה עֲלֵיהֶם כְּאַחִים הֵם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יד א) "בָּנִים אַתֶּם לַה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם" וְאִם לֹא יְרַחֵם הָאָח עַל הָאָח מִי יְרַחֵם עָלָיו. וּלְמִי עֲנִיֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל נוֹשְׂאִין עֵינֵיהֶן. הֲלְעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִין אוֹתָן וְרוֹדְפִים אַחֲרֵיהֶן. הָא אֵין עֵינֵיהֶן תְּלוּיוֹת אֶלָּא לַאֲחֵיהֶן:
(1) We are obligated to be careful about the commandment [to give] charity, more than any other positive commandment, for charity is a sign of the righteous, the seed of Avraham, as it says "For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness... " And the seat of Israel is not established nor is the True Faith preserved except through charity as it says "In righteousness shalt thou be established" nor shall Israel be redeemed except through charity as it says "Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness."
(2) A person is never impoverished through charity and no bad thing nor any damage is caused by charity as it says "And the work of righteousness shall be peace." Anyone who is merciful, [God is] merciful towards them as it says "and give thee mercy, and have compassion on thee and increase thee." And anyone who is cruel and not merciful, is under suspicion [regarding] his lineage for cruelty is only found among pagans as it says "they are cruel, and have no compassion." All of Israel and all who are attached to them are like brothers as it says "Ye are the children of the LORD your God" and if a brother will not have compassion for his brother, who will have compassion for him? And to whom will the poor of Israel lift their eyes? To the gentiles who hate them and pursue them?! Their eyes look only towards their brothers.
כל המרחם על הבריות בידוע שהוא מזרעו של אברהם אבינו וכל מי שאינו מרחם על הבריות בידוע שאינו מזרעו של אברהם אבינו
Anyone who has compassion for God’s creatures, it is known that he is of the descendants of Abraham, our father, and anyone who does not have compassion for God’s creatures, it is known that he is not of the descendants of Abraham, our father.
A Theologico-Political Treatise (1670), Baruch Spinoza
Lastly, if anyone wishes to maintain that the Jews, from this or from any other cause, have been chosen by God forever, I will not gainsay him if he will admit that this choice, whether temporary or eternal, has no regard, in so far as it is peculiar to the Jews, to aught but dominion and physical advantages (for by which alone can one nation be distinguished from another), whereas in regard to intellect and true virtue, every nation is on a par with the rest, and God has not in these respects chosen one people rather than another.
The Transvaluation of Values (1898), Ahad Ha'am
- It is almost universally admitted that the Jews have a genius for morality, and in this respect are superior to all other nations. It matters not how this happened, or in what way this trait developed: we certainly find that in the very earliest times the Jewish people became conscious of its superiority in this respect over the surrounding nations. This consciousness found its expression, in accordance with the spirit of that age, in the religious dogma that God had chosen out Israel to make him high above all nations." But this election of Israel was not to be a domination based on force, for Israel is "the fewest of all peoples." It was for moral development that Israel was chosen by God, "to be a peculiar people unto Himself .... and to keep all His commandments" ; that is, to give concrete expression in every generation to the highest type of morality, to submit always to the yoke of the most exacting moral obligations, and this without any regard to the gain or loss of the rest of mankind, but solely for the sake of the existence of this supreme type.
- It is only during the last century, since the French Revolution raised the banner of equality and fraternity among all men, and made the general well- being the supreme moral ideal, that Jewish apologists have begun to be ashamed of the idea of Israel's election in its old sense. Finding this idea opposed to that of absolute equality and the pursuit of the general well-being, they have tried to adapt Judaism to modern requirements by inventing the famous theory of "the mission of Israel among the nations." Thus they reconcile the idea of the national election with that of human equality, by making the one a means to the other. Israel is, indeed (so they argue), the chosen people; but for what end was he chosen? To spread good-will and well-being throughout the world, by teaching mankind the way of life according to that true Law which was entrusted to him for this very purpose. Now there is no need to repeat here the oft-repeated criticism of this compromise, that it has no foundation in actuality, and rests entirely on a metaphysical dogma. It is enough to point out that the Jewish people as a whole has always interpreted its "mission" simply as the performance of its own duties, without regard to the external world, and has regarded its election, from the earliest times to the present day, as the end of all else, and not as a means to the happiness of the rest of the world.
The Future of the American Jew (1949), Mordecai Kaplan
- The idea of Israel as the Chosen People must...be understood as belonging to a thought-world which we no longer inhabit...Nowadays for any people to call itself "chosen" is to be guilty of self-infatuation. (p. 211)
- The traditional basis for the belief that Israel was God's Chosen People was the assumption that the miraculous events recorded in the Torah concerning the PAtriarhss and their descendants in Egypt represented factual truth...The modern-minded Jew cannot consider the miraculous events recorded in the Torah as in the rest of the Bible as other than legendary. (p. 214-215)
- [Early Reformer] Kaufmann Kohler's Jewish Theology [justifies] the claim of the Jews being a chosen people:
- Jews possess hereditary traits which qualify them to be superior to the rest of the world in the realm of the religious and the ethical
- Their ancestors were the first to achieve those religious and ethical conceptions and ideals which will, in the end, become the common possession of mankind and help them to achieve salvation.
- Jews possess the truest form of the religious and ethical ideals of mankind
- Jews are entrusted with the task of communicating those ideals to the rest of the world.
- First, the proposition that Jews possess unusual hereditary traits which entitle them to be God's elect is based on a series of unproven generalizations concerning certain qualities as being characteristic only of Jews, and on biological assumptions concerning hereditary, which are entirely unwarranted...If Jews were to adopt the foregoing reinterpretation of the doctrine of election, they would, by implication, assent to the most pernicious theory of racial hereditary yet advanced to justify racial inequality and the right of a master race to dominate all the rest of mankind. (p. 215-216)
- Secondly, for Jews to claim sole credit for having given mankind those religious and ethical concepts which hold out the promise of a better world smacks of arrogance. The Greek philosophers, the Stoics in the Roman period, the humanists of the Renaissance, and the rationalists of the 18th century have made highly significant contributions to spiritual and moral truth. The religious philosophers of the Hindus antedate all others...Even if Jews were the first to enunciate the great moral and spiritual teachings, it would be immodest of them to boast about it...The first-born has no right to claim that he is better or more beloved than the other children. Special privileges no long attach to primogeniture. (p. 216)
- Thirdly, for Jews to maintain that they possess the truest form of truth would be understandable if they still believed that the teachings of their religion are immutable and infallible...The very assumption of a predetermined and permanent superiority, no matter in what respect, does not lend itself to reinterpretation...By no kind of dialectics is it possible to remove the odium of comparison from any reinterpretation of an idea which makes invidious distinctions between on people and another. (p. 216-217)
- Finally, the fourth proposition confused the doctrine of Israel's election, as expressed in the overwhelming majority of biblical allusions which deal with Israel's relation to God, with the doctrine of Israel's mission which is the subject of less than a dozen passages in the second part of Isaiah. There is not the slightest implication in the multitude of references to Israel as a Chosen People that it is expected to fulfill the mission of making God known to the nations. (p.217)
- The assumption by an individual or group that it is the chosen and indispensable vehicle of God's grace to others is arrogance no matter how euphemistically one phrases the claim to being chosen. (p. 219)
The Essence of Judaism, Leo Baeck
The matter when one fixes the date of Israel's birth and No matter what you want may take of its development, one thing is certain: it's predominant aspect from the very beginning was its ethical character, the importance it attached to the moral law. Ethics constitute its essence. Monotheism is the result of a realization of the absolute character of the moral law; moral consciousness teaches about God...Only in Israel did an ethical monotheism exist, and wherever else it is found later, it has been derived directly or indirectly from Israel. The nature of this religion was conditioned by the existence of the people of Israel, and so it became one of the nations that have a mission to fulfill. That is what is meant by the election of Israel. Hence this word primarily expresses a historical fact: there was assigned to this people a peculiar position in the world by which it is distinguished from all other peoples. (p. 59-61)
Abraham Joshua Heschel
- "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy people" (Exodus 19:6), was the reason for Israel's election, the meaning of its distinction. (God in Search of Man, p. 289-290)
- From the beginnings of Israelite religion, the belief that God had chosen this particluar people to carry out [God's] mission has been both a cornerstone of Hebrew faith and a refuge in moments of distress. And yet, the prophets felt that to many of their contemporaries this cornerstone was a stumbling block; this refuge, an escape. They had to remind the people that chosenness must not be mistake as divine favoritism or immunity from chastisement, but, on the contrary, that it mean being more seriously exposed to divine judgment and chastisement. (The Prophets, p. 33)
The Pittsburgh Platform - 1885
- We recognize in the Bible the record of the consecration of the Jewish people to its mission as the priest of the one God.
- We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel s great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.
- We acknowledge that the spirit of broad humanity of our age is our ally in the fulfillment of our mission, and therefore we extend the hand of fellowship to all who cooperate with us in the establishment of the reign of truth and righteousness among men.
The Columbus Platform - 1937
- Judaism is the soul of which Israel is the body.
- We affirm the obligation of all Jewry to aid in its upbuilding as a Jewish homeland by endeavoring to make it not only a haven of refuge for the oppressed but also a center of Jewish culture and spiritual life.
- Throughout the ages it has been IsraelÕs mission to witness to the Divine in the face of every form of paganism and materialism. We regard it as our historic task to cooperate with all men in the establishment of the kingdom of God, of universal brotherhood, Justice, truth and peace on earth. This is our Messianic goal.
- The People Israel -- The Jewish people and Judaism defy precise definition because both are in the process of becoming. Jews, by birth or conversion, constitute an uncommon union of faith and peoplehood. Born as Hebrews in the ancient Near East, we are bound together like all ethnic groups by language, land, history, culture, and institutions. But the people of Israel is unique because of its involvement with God and its resulting perception of the human condition. Throughout our long history our people has been inseparable from its religion with its messianic hope that humanity will be redeemed.
- We are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the nations to be witnesses to God's presence.
עָלֵֽינוּ לְשַׁבֵּֽחַ לַאֲדוֹן הַכֹּל לָתֵת גְּדֻלָּה לְיוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית.
שֶׁלֹּא עָשָֽׂנוּ כְּגוֹיֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת וְלֹא שָׂמָֽנוּ כְּמִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאֲדָמָה: שֶׁלֹּא שָׂם חֶלְקֵֽנוּ כָּהֶם וְגֹרָלֵֽנוּ כְּכָל הֲמוֹנָם:
וַאֲנַֽחְנוּ כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים וּמוֹדִים לִפְנֵי מֶֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים
הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא:
Let us now praise the Sovereign of the universe, and proclaim the greatness of the Creator,
who has set us apart from the other families of the earth, giving us a destiny unique among the nations. We bend the knee and bow, acknowledging the supreme Sovereign, the Holy One of Blessing.