From Rav Binny Freedman of Isralight on Parshas Balak:
“The concept of being ‘chosen’ as a people does not mean we are better than anyone else. What it means is that we, (like any other nation) have our own special gifts and therefore our own special purpose. And this different (and not better) relationship with G-d is a result of the choices we have made. All of which now present us with the challenge of living up to the responsibilities those gifts and that different relationship entail.”
And the rant it inspired…
I told my husband the other day that the “chosen people” thing was bad press. Many people who I’ve told about my conversion think that I walk around thinking I’m holier than thou, better than everyone else because I’m now Jewish. And yet, one of the things I hate most is when I’m in a group of Jews and they start talking as if everyone should be Jewish because Jews are better. Someone even surmised that perhaps all the “inbreeding” led to better genes. Oy.
Before I converted, I tried to go back to the church. I attended a friend’s prayer group on a weekly basis. Mostly, I was there for the company and the free meals. I liked the way they talked about G-d affecting their daily lives, though it perturbed me that they called G-d by a different name, “Jesus.” One day, a man with a Jewish father, who was part of the group, asked if people that hadn’t accepted Jesus could be good people or just as good people as Christians who had. The answer wasn’t too complicated, it was “no.” And I couldn’t agree with a religion that decided that I was more special than someone else just because my relationship with G-d was more special.
It’s no secret that in converting to Judaism, I gave up “Jesus Christ as my personal savior.” Many of my friends and family now think that I’m going to Hell. They were so sure of this that they even stopped talking to me. But Judaism doesn’t believe you’re going to Hell because you’re not Jewish.
The fact is that Jews have a different relationship with G-d. It’s special to us. Special to G-d. But Judaism believes that non-Jews have their own relationship with G-d. A relationship that is also special to G-d. We all have our purposes in the grand scheme of things. But hopefully, in the end, our goals are the same. To create a better world. To unite to do it. To do justice to this world that G-d gave us.