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How do we reconcile being the “Chosen Nation” with historically being the “Most Persecuted Nation”?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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While we constantly hope and pray that we don’t experience any suffering, I don’t see how our suffering would contradicts the fact that we are G-d’s chosen people.

In fact, the very Torah which tells we are a chosen people – chosen to be a “light unto the nations” – also tells us that if we don’t obey His will we will be subject to terrible calamities. These predictions are written in the Torah,1   in the Prophets2   and in the Talmud.3

In other words while we don’t want and shouldn’t silently accept these challenging situations, they are not foreign to our “contract,” nor are they a surprise when you look at the manuscripts that describe who we are and what we will go through.

Which nation has endured even a fraction of what we’ve been through and maintained its unique identity
The Jewish nation has no middle ground. The descendants of Abraham are compared to the dust of the earth4   and to the stars of the heaven.5   The Midrash6   explains that “G-d told Abraham, ‘When your descendents perform my will, just as the stars are atop the world, so, too, your children will be elevated above all others. When they do not do as I wish, just as the dust is underfoot and all tread on it, they too will share the same fate.’”

How prophetic!

This issue can also be viewed from a different angle: which nation has endured even a fraction of what we’ve been through and maintained its unique identity? Throughout the ages, the world has, in the best of times actively encouraged us to assimilate, and in the worst of times forcibly attempted to tear us away from our heritage. This alone is a testament to our uniqueness. To quote the prophet Malachi7 : “For I, the Lord, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not perished.” Just as G-d is infinite and unchangeable, so, too, His chosen nation can not be annihilated.

Truth be told, we’ve suffered tremendously throughout history and I think it is time for the suffering to end. Let’s act with the pride of being G-d’s chosen, and let G-d bring us the beautiful blessings He promised us.

One positive element of all the past suffering is that we now know when G-d promises He delivers. So He promised to take us out of Exile and end the suffering; let Him deliver!

Footnotes

  • 1. See Leviticus ch. 26. Deuteronomy ch. 28.
  • 2. The words of the prophets, and specifically the Book of Jeremiah, are replete with such admonitions.
  • 3. See end of tractate Sotah. Sanhedrin 98-99.
  • 4. Genesis 13:16.
  • 5. Ibid. 15:5.
  • 6. Aggadat Beraishit ch. 39.
  • 7. Malachi 3:6.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew?
Philosophy » Pain and Suffering

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.