The Jews’ status as chosen people is politically incorrect. The concept is not racist: unlike the black/white skin-color distinction, anyone can join the chosen people by converting properly. The concept, however, is insulting: any Jew is chosen from birth, automatically, while Gentiles have to undergo a very hard conversion. It is of no sense to fool Gentiles with the “we’re chosen but not better than you” tune. Of course, it’s better to be chosen than not. Chosen-ness means the greatest imaginable advantage in the most valuable sphere of all, in the transcendental realm. The Torah is explicit: Jews were chosen in order to raise us up (Exodus 20:17). In our prayers, we thank God for having chosen us from among all nations and exalting us above all towns. It’s great to be chosen by the biggest authority in the universe.
It’s hard to live chosen. Jews have many more religious obligations than Gentiles, and therefore more dangers of transgressing them. Being a good Jew is tremendously more difficult than being a good Gentile. Many Jews do not live up to their chosen-ness, but we don’t believe that the divine choice was in vain.
Shulhan Aruch has become the darling of the anti-Semites. They fish for the quotes which prove that we don’t love Gentiles. Very true. And why should we? For nineteen centuries, I don’t recall any good we saw from Gentiles—and I can easily count hundreds of horrific events. But we’re fair. Even the Egyptians of the Exodus are called “our neighbors,” insofar as they were willing to lend to the Jews. We’re prepared to treat any non-abusive Gentile respectfully. Shulhan Aruch forbids cheating Gentiles, particularly in weights. I’m unaware of a similar express prohibition in Christianity. Theorists would argue that it is deducible from general principles, but what is deducible for them is not so clear for their merchants.
The love we’re supposed to share is curiously one-sided. I’ve yet to find a nation which loves Jews. Please, drop that mantra about the United States; about a quarter of its population holds anti-Semitic views, just like in Europe. Nor is it natural for one nation to love another. Compatriots cooperate, communities compete.
It’s more difficult with hate, not least because hate is hard to differentiate from antagonism. Naturally, I hate those who hate Jews, who killed us before and would kill again, given an opportunity. I hate them in the sense that I would gladly avenge the deaths of my fellow Jews at the hands of Germans or Ukrainians, but not perhaps in the sense of actively seeking an opportunity for revenge. Probably I’m wrong on this point; probably revenge should be carried out at every opportunity, at any level, rather than waiting for a grand opening which might never come. We were commanded to erase the memory of Amalek from beneath heaven, but instead we have perpetuated his memory. The same sort of thing happened with the Nazis—Jews failed to exact retribution on the half a million Germans and Ukrainians actively involved in the extermination, but now promote the memory of those criminals with incessant whining.
Hatred of oppressors is a time-honored Jewish practice. Since Rabban Gamliel of the second century, we curse the sectarians daily in our Amida prayer and ask God to destroy them. The sectarians are not members of various Jewish sects, but those whose sects parted with Judaism—you know whom the rabbis mean.
I certainly don’t despise anti-Semites and Gentiles generally. There are some very smart anti-Semites, including good writers. Indeed, anti-Semitism is good for Jews, as it pushes the weak ones to assimilate and the stronger ones to unite.
I detest foreign religious observances. Praying to icons seems bizarre to me. I cannot but agree with Ramban about the oddity of God confining himself to the womb of a certain Jewish lady. I feel amazed that Christians wear on their necks crosses of gold; would they wear a gallows similarly? Golden amulets of the one who lived and died in poverty? I smile politely at pictures of God and his family in cathedrals (which I admire). If you find that offensive, think of how you view polytheist religious practices, or your opinion about a less ethical person at the next table in a restaurant who doesn’t know how to open up lobsters. All human beings cherish their peculiar beliefs—at the expense of those with different beliefs.
Ignorant and dishonest rabbis proclaim that Jews should embrace Gentiles because we’re a light unto the nations. If we embrace, we assimilate. The ignorant reform rabbis want assimilation while the dishonest ones want not to be a light; Boro Park, Brooklyn is isolated from the rest of America like the other side of the Moon. In order to be a light, we don’t rush to be close with anyone. A beacon provides ships with the guiding light, but it doesn’t rush toward them. Like a beacon, we stand up and proudly show our observances. If you like them—welcome. If you despise them, we don’t care.
A strong, proud, religious Israel need not adapt her ways to anyone’s tastes.