The Chosen People
| The Jewish Nation

1) Are Not All Men Equal? Does Not the Chosen People Idea Contradict This? Why If the Torah Is Supposed to Be a Moral Code, Was It Only Given to the Jews? Don't We Want All People to Be Good?

2) What Does it Mean to Be Chosen? Chosen for What?

3) How Can We Know That the Jews Are Really the Chosen People?

4) What is G-d’s Attitude Toward Other Religions, Races and Nationalities?

5) How Do We Explain Discriminatory Laws Like Interest, Loshon Horo and Returning a Lost Object?

6) What is Anti-Semitism and Can it Be Removed? If the Jews Are the ‘Chosen People’ Why Have They Been Oppressed So Much Throughout the Generations?


1.      Are not all men equal? Does not the Chosen People idea contradict this? Why if the Torah is supposed to be a moral code, was it only given to the Jews? Don't we want all people to be good?   (top)

"How odd of G-d to choose the Jews.
It's not so odd, the Jews chose G-d."

Judaism would prefer that there be no distinctions. In the ideal, had the first Man and Woman not transgressed, there would not have been any Jew or non-Jew - just man
[1]. After the sin, the situation was still open for anyone to choose a life of core spirituality and to become the Jewish people[2].  Despite the passing of tens of generations, only Abraham and his descendents chose to dedicate themselves to this task. G-d did not simply accept their role as future recipients of the Torah. Again and again, He tested Abraham[3]. Again and again, He tested Yitzchak and then Yaakov and his children and their children[4]. The nation had to pass the horrific and miserable experience of Egypt, but still they stood fast, ready to commit themselves to G-d’s Torah. Therefore it was only because the Jews consistently and doggedly chose G-d, that G-d ultimately chose the Jews[5].

     Even at this late stage, other nations could also have accepted the Torah. The Torah was in fact offered to everyone. But when even now only the Jews responded, the nations of the world could no longer, as a nation, accept the Torah. Still, any individual non-Jew is welcome to convert and become a part of the Torah-keeping nation. Non-Jews have, in fact,  more spiritual opportunities than Jews. Non-Jews can remain as they are and by keeping the Seven Noachide Laws, get the World to Come. These laws are very basic laws of minimum civilized standards like killing, stealing and not being cruel to animals. Or, if they so desire, they can commit to a higher standard of spirituality by converting. Jews have no such choice. Their only choice is how they will respond to the incontrovertible fact of their Jewishness.


2.      What does it mean to be chosen? Chosen for what?   (top)

     G-d chose us for special duties not privileges[6], because we showed a willingness to accept those duties, which the rest of the world rejected. These responsibilities involve not only a more demanding level of spiritual and moral standards, but also include caring for the broader spiritual fulfillment of the world and all its people[7]. The Jews did not accept the Torah only for themselves, but on behalf of the whole world. Nor have we ever tried to get anyone else to take over our responsibilities.

     The Jews have not had a privileged history in the normal sense of the word. On the contrary, being Jewish means being judged by a stricter standard than non-Jews
[8] and suffering the long history of anti-Semitism that we have. Even the gift of the land of Israel was conditional on the highest commitment to G-d and His Torah. And the land that was given was small enough. That we have survived in defiance of any sociological explanation, is testimony to the fact that G-d wants us to continue serving the role that we have[9].


3.      How can we know that the Jews are really the Chosen people?   (top)

     There are several, objective ways by which we can know that our claim to be the Chosen People is, in fact, true. The very fact that we survived as a nation and a religion[10], a tiny group of people spread throughout the nations of the world is totally mysterious and entirely unprecedented[11]. Paul Johnson stated it beautifully when he observed: “Above all, that the Jews should still survive when all those other ancient peoples were transmuted or vanished into the oubliettes of history, was wholly predictable. How could it be otherwise? Providence decreed it and the Jews obeyed." (A History of the Jews, pg. 587)

     Anti-Semitism is another phenomenon in the world which seems perplexing and without explanation. No other hatred is as intense, spread over so many countries (even ones where Jews do not live), over so many centuries and with such persistent dedication[12].

     Lloyd George stated in 1923: “Of all the extreme fanaticism which plays havoc in man’s nature, there is not one as irrational as anti-Semitism. … If the Jews are rich [these fanatics] are victims of theft. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to take advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared by their natures or traitors. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so.”

     Nations dedicated enormous energies and resources to their Jew hatred, sometimes to the point of their own destruction. Ultimately, anti-Semitism can only be explained as result of the recognition which the nations of the world have that the Jews are the Chosen People[13].

     All the prophecies about the Jews, which have proven to be so accurate further bolsters our claim. Finally, there is the fact that this is the people to whom G-d gave the Torah[14]. None of the monotheistic religions denies this claim. The Kuzari claims that a claim of a national revelation cannot be made unless it is true, which is why no other nation ever attempted to make a similar claim[15]. The miracles which occurred around this time were public, easily observable and testable and took place over an enormously long period of time.

Many other proofs that verify that G-d gave the Torah to the Jews exist besides[16]. The last one we will discuss here is the Jewish contribution to civilization, a phenomenon so remarkable that all great historians have felt a need to comment on it[17]. More than anything else, the Jews have contributed Monotheism[18], a fact that changed everything about the world, including the ability to do science as we know it today. The Jews contributed the Torah, the idea of universal education, the concept of the basic rights of man. They also gave the basic notions of equality of opportunity, democracy, and our basic notions of justice. In Paul Johnson’s beautiful prose:

“Certainly the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might eventually have stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they have been revealed; but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person; of the individual conscience and so for personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice...Above all, the Jews taught us...Monotheism

This contribution, which is so disproportionate to our size, was made under the most difficult of circumstances, when we were under siege, spread out, being hounded and expelled. Other nations would have been pleased to have survived; while the Jews did more for the world than any nation on earth.


4.      What is G-d’s attitude toward other religions, races and nationalities?   (top)

     Judaism is unique in recognizing the legitimacy of other religions. A non-Jew is entitled to practice any religion which is Noachide-consistent, thereby earning himself the title of being a righteous Gentile and deserving a place in the World to Come[20]. Judaism is
also not racist. If it were it would not allow Jewishness to be determined by the mother alone
[21], when half the child’s genetic endowment would be coming from a non-Jewish source. (The Nazis killed people whose blood was only one quarter Jewish.) Similarly, anyone from any race is entitled to convert to Judaism[22].

     So too, Judaism recognized that each nation has a unique role to play in the world[23]. In practice, these nations have not, in the main fulfilled their unique potential. So G-d implemented a backup plan, using the Jews to ensure that the precious sparks of holiness of the nations of the world do not get lost. The first part of this plan is to use converts, who bring the sparks of that nation into the Jewish People[24]. The second part of this plan is through Galus (exile). By spreading us out amongst so many nations, G-d is ensuring that we redeem the positive values of each culture out there[25].


5.      How do we explain discriminatory laws like interest, Loshon Horo (negative speech about another person) and returning a lost object which apply to Jews and not to non-Jews?   (top)

     There are two categories of discriminatory laws. One set of laws is designed to keep us separate from the nations of the world. For example, the laws of kashrus, including יין נסך prevent social contact from becoming overly intimate, while the law against intermarriage keeps us intact as a nation. The whole world has an interest in keeping the identity of the Jews intact. It would be a tragedy for all if this nation, which has made such a disproportionate contribution to the world, would no longer be around to continue its phenomenally productive and creative input in advancing civilization.

     A second group of laws, however, seems to be more problematic. These are laws which seem to unfairly discriminate against the non-Jew, such as the laws of interest[26], loshon hora (negative speech about another person) and hashavas aveida (returning a lost object) [27]. If we look closely, we will see that a common thread underlies all these laws. All represent exceptional standards of behavior not demanded or even expected by the broader society. If a mother were to buy her child an ice cream, we would not expect all the kids in the neighborhood crying foul that she hadn’t bought each and every one of them an ice cream as well. It is expected that a mother will set a higher standard of care and concern for her own children. (Of course there is a certain standard by which she should conduct herself toward those who are not her members of her family as well.)

     So too with the Jewish people. We are entitled to, no we ought to set a higher standard amongst our family members, our fellow Jews, than we do with the rest of the world. Let us look at some of the specific examples.

     Interest is an essential component of a modern economy. If there would be no interest, people would find it very difficult to find money to borrow and business ventures would dry up. Economies would stagnate and, with growing populations, there would be increasing unemployment and even worse. G-d wants us to take and give interest. He created interest as a part of the inexorable laws of economics. But he asked us to set a higher standard amongst our family members.

     So too with Loshon Hora (negative speech about another person). The American Supreme Court upholds the right of people to talk Loshon Hora as a constitutional right. Millions of people would be out of a job if Loshon Hora laws were upheld – the entire newspaper industry, talk show hosts and many others. People who first become exposed to these laws comment that they never realized how much of their day was spent talking Loshon Hora. But HaShem (G-d) in His wisdom demanded that the Jews keep a higher standard amongst family members. (In fact, we are urged not to talk Loshon Hora against non-Jews as well. For here the logic we applied in interest, that Loshon Hora might actually be good for the world, surely does not apply.)

     Similarly, Hashavas Aveida (returning a lost object). Certainly, many countries have laws requiring that if one finds a wallet in the street that one hand it in. But the laws of Hashavas Aveida demand much more of us than that. They require that we look after the object, which, if it is an animal, mean feeding it and working out what, in the long-term, are in the best financial interests of the owner. HaShavas Aveida laws tell us to run around and put up signs in the local synagogues and sometimes to hold onto an object for years. No country has laws that come even close to this exulted standard. G-d says again, “For family members, I expect you to go the extra mile.” Some even regard Noachide observant non-Jews as being family members in this regard[28].

     Jews are expected to be totally honest in their dealings with non-Jews, to pay their taxes, to give charity to non-Jewish causes, to look after the non-Jew (Ger Toshav) who settles in Israel[29] and to make a positive contribution to their broader society. But Jews are expected to do even more than that for their fellow Jew. This is completely understandable; no – it is even it be expected.


6.      What is anti-Semitism and can it be removed? If the Jews are the ‘chosen people’ why have they been oppressed so much throughout the generations?   (top)

     In the question above, How do we know the Jews are the Chosen People, we explained the uniqueness of anti-Semitism. We explained that the normal rules of history and sociology are not sufficient to explain this phenomenon. Only by understanding the Choseness of the Jewish people and how that interfaces with the nations of the world can we come to any understanding of this most harrowing and perplexing issue[30].

     “How did the Christians historically explain the miraculous survival of the Jew. Only two possibilities - or G-d's chosen people - which they couldn't accept, or the work of the devil, which they proposed. A perverse recognition of Jewish uniqueness." (Eliezer Berkowitz, The Hiding G-d of History)

     Here we must distinguish between the true anti-Semite as opposed to the person who merely hates the Jew because he is different. The latter, if he is white and male for example, will also hate blacks, women and all others who are different to him. The real anti-Semite, by contrast, understands who the Jew is, that he is chosen, and that his strength lies in his connection with G-d through the Torah. Hitler certainly understood this
[31]; so did Haman, Amalek and all those who pursued final solutions.

     Our Sages tell us that our biggest problems come from the exile (Galus) civilizations. An exile civilization is one which is locked into the same civilization energy as the Jew so that, כשזה קם זה נופל, when this one rises, this one falls. When we Jews keep Torah and Mitzvos, we use up the available civilization energy, and the exile nation finds its energies sapped. When we do not keep the Torah, however, we release these energies for the exile nation, and it is then able to flourish at our expense[32].

The Chosen People | The Jewish Nation


[1] All of mankind would then have become a part of Klal Yisroel.  

[2] Even at time of דור ההפלגה each of 70 nations was given a distinct spiritual task.

מהר"ל אור חדש ח"א: יש לכל אומה ואומה מהות בפני עצמה...עד"ז מורה הכתב כי כל כתב הוא ציור הדבר...

ר' צדוק, רסיסי לילה ס' לז
: כל אומה יש לה כח מיוחד

עיין דרך ה': חלק שני - פרק 4 -ס' ב וס' ג (1rst 3 paragraphs)

See Handbook of Jewish Thought: 4:12, 4:13, 4:16

Until the (flood) מבול, period of roots (= 70 nations). After then, period of branches. Commitment by “roots" to role of central spirituality would lead to branches playing that role as well because they would inherit intrinsic degree of innate spirituality. Because א"א = אב המון גוים therefore even during the period of the branches, possible to join central spirituality (although this became increasingly difficult).


[3] Abraham was given 10 tests (ר' יונה אבות ה:ד lists them); “Never in history had unaided individual made such a complete break with his environment, overcoming all obstacles for a yet unknown faith." (A Kaplan - 4.15)

דרך חיים (מהר"ל) אבות ה ג הקב"ה היה מנסה את אברהם בעשר נסיונות שיהיה אברהם מנוסה בכל מיני נסיונות שהם מחולקים [וכמו עשר המכות ועשרה מאמרות של מעשה בראשית] 

[4] Only after 3 generations and after all Jacob's children followed in his way is the term Israel first used; (The other names for the Jewish people, יהודים & שארית ישראל only after his children in turn.) 

[5] ברכות ו. אמר להם הקב"ה לישראל אתם עשיתוני חטיבה אחת בעולם ואני אעשה אתכם חטיבה אחת בעולם (עיי"ש)

[6] דברים ד:כג-כד

דברים ח:יט

והיה אם שכח תשכח את ד' אלקיך והלכת אחרי אלהים אחרים ועבדתם והשתחוית להם העידתי בכם היום כי אבד תאבדון: (עיין שם בהמשך)

אבד תאבדון: משני עולמות (ספורנו)

דברים י:טו-טז

רק באבתיך חשק ד' לאהבה אותם ויבחר בזרעם אחריהם בכם מכל העמים כיום הזה. (ומיד) (טז) ומלתם את ערלת לבבכם וגו'

שמות יט:ה-ו

(ה)ועתה אם שמוע תשמעו בקלי ושמרתם את בריתי והייתם לי סגלה מכל העמים כי לי כל הארץ: (ו)ואתם תהיו לי ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש אלה הדברים אשר תדבר אל בני ישראל:

פחד יצחק (פסח מאמר מו, מז, מח, ראש השנה ד) - קודם מתן תורה הנהיג ד' בחסד ויתור ואילו אחרי מתן תורה הנהיג בחסד משפט

R. S. R. Hirsch, the Nineteen Letters:

“The Bible terms Israel סגולה, “a chosen treasure." This designation, however, does not imply, as some have falsely interpreted it, that Israel has a monopoly on G-d's love and favor. On the contrary, it proclaims that G-d has the sole and exclusive claim to Israel's devotion and service." (Fifteenth Letter) 

[7] ישעיה נו:ז

כי ביתי בית תפלה יקרא לכל העמים

רמב"ם הל' עכו"ם א:ג

(אברהם) והתחיל לעמוד ולקרא בקול גדול לכל העולם ולהודיעם שיש שם א-לוה אחד לכל העולם ולו ראוי לעבוד והיה מהלך וקורא ומקבץ העם מעיר לעיר וממלכה לממלכה

רמב"ם פי"א מהל' מלכים הל' ד:

...אם עשה [כל הדברים האלה]...הרי זה משיח בודאי ויתקן את העולם כולו לעבוד את ד' ביחד שנאמר כי אז אהפוך אל העמים שפה ברורה לקרוא כולם בשם ד' ולעבדו שכם אחד.

R.S.R. Hirsch: Israel's most cherished ideal is that of the universal brotherhood of mankind. Almost every prayer we utter contains reference to the hastening of this end. (The 19 Letters, 15th letter.)

Rav S. R. Hirsch: אברהם אבינו (Abraham prays) davens for סדום (Sdom) right after circumcision. מילה (Circumcision) which was to separate Abraham from the rest of the world, immediately spurs him onto a greater sensitivity to that world.

וכן במלבי"ם עה"פ (בראשית יז: ד)

אני הנה בריתי אתך והיית לאב המון גוים: בל תחשוב שעל ידי המילה יתרחקו בני אדם ממך...

  ממלכת כהנים

Implies the Jews are כהנים to the nations - i.e. the rest of the world

ספורנו (שמות יט:ו)

... תהיו ממלכת כהנים להבין ולהורות לכל המין האנושי לקרוא כולם בשם ד' ולעבדו שכם אחד ... 

ישעיה מב:ו: ...ואתנך לברית עם לאור גוים

רד"ק: לברית עם - לקיום כל עם ועם כי בעבורך מתקיים כל העולם... והאור הוא התורה...וישרא-ל יהיו קיום האומות על שני פנים הא' שיהיה שלום בעבורם בכל הגוים...השנית כי בסבת ישרא-ל יהיו הגוים שומרים שבע מצות... 

ישעיה מט:ו...ונתתיך לאור גוים... 

העמק דבר (שמות יב:נא): ... ישראל נוצרו להיות לאור גוים להעמידם על ידיעת אלקי עולם וגו' (עיין שם שהאריך קצת) 

ספר החינוך מצוה תל"א לאהוב גרים: משרשי המצוה כי הש"י בחר לישראל להיות לו לעם קדוש ורצה לזכותם ולכן הדריכם וציום על דרכי החנינה והחמלה והזכירם להתעטר בכל מדה חמודה ויקרה למצוא חן בעיני כל רואיהם ויאמרו עם ד' אלה. 

[8] עמוס ג:ב

רק אתכם ידעתי מכל משפחות האדמה על כן אפקד עליכם את כל עונתיכם 

[9] See the next answer 

[10] T.R. Glover: No ancient people have had a stranger history than the Jews. … The history of no ancient people should be so valuable, if we could only recover it and understand it. … Stranger still, the ancient religion of the Jews survives, when all the religions of every ancient race of the pre-Christian world have disappeared … Again it is strange that the living religions of the world all build on religious ideas derived from the Jews. …. The great matter is not “What happened?” but “Why did it happen?” Why does Judaism live? (The Ancient World, Penguin, pp. 184-191) 

[11] Alswang:  “The Chinese in China have always been the majority. The Kurdish people as well (within their own national geographic boundaries) were the majority until Turkish occupation in the sixteenth century. In contrast, for over eighteen hundred years, until the creation of the modern Jewish state in 1948, Jews were always a minority. The Chinese had no substantive interaction with Western or Middle Eastern culture up to the nineteenth century. The Kurds too had minimal interaction with the West, and, to this day are, in general, a pastoral people living in tents. In comparison, the Jews have not only witnessed every Western and Near Eastern physical and cultural revolution over the past three thousand years, but have, more times than not, been an integral feature of non-Jewish society.”

Mark Twain:

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" (from the article Concerning the Jews, Harpers (1899), see The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, Doubleday (1963) pg. 249).
more Jewish Quotes 

[12] The Discovery Booklet states that Anti-Semitism unique in its:

                i -             Universality

                ii -            Intensity

                iii-            Longevity

                iv -          Apparent Irrationality   

[13] “How did the Christians historically explain the miraculous survival of the Jew. Only two possibilities - or G-d's chosen people - which they couldn't accept, or the work of the devil, which they proposed. A perverse recognition of Jewish uniqueness." (Eliezer Berkowitz - The Hiding G-d of History)

Nazi's hatred and fear of Jews: Totally unjustified in terms of material and political power. “It was a metaphysical fear of the true mystery of G-d's ...presence in history as revealed in the continued survival of Israel. ...The hiding G-d of history was a repudiation of everything Nazi Germany stood for." (Berkowitz, ibid.) 

[14] The Jewish nation is intrinsically bound to the Torah. Proof that the Torah is Divine is also proof for the Chosenness of the Jewish people. 

[15]  דברים ד:לב

כי שאל נא לימים ראשנים אשר היו לפניך, למן היום אשר ברא אלקים אדם על הארץ, ולמקצה השמים ועד קצה השמים, הנהיה כדבר הגדול הזה או הנשמע כמהו (ע"ש המשך הפסוקים)

All other religions: One man claiming prophecies; a few people seeing miracles; usually from less educated parts of population; miracles often at a distance; done suddenly over short periods of time; recorded much later; etc.

התוכלו להראות לי כמו "מחולת המחנים" (=שמחת מחנה ישראל בהר סיני) (שיר השירים ז:א) כלומר האומה תטעון כנגד (אלא שמפתים אותם לדתים אחרים) ואומרת להם: הראוני כמו מעמד הר סיני ... אז אשוב לעצתכם (אגרת תימן)

Other religions would have loved to have made such a claim, especially Islam and Christianity, who were claiming to replace the national revelation at Sinai.  But as the Kuzari explains such a claim cannot be invented. The Kuzari explains why it is impossible to lie about such a claim. 

[16] See the section called Proofs of the Torah

[17] John Adams: ... the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation.... (2nd President of USA, Discovery booklet pg. 50)

T. R. Glover: ... It is strange that the living religions of the world all build on religious ideas derived from the Jews. (The Ancient World, Penguin, pg. 184-191 in Discovery Booklet pg. 51) 

In the Aish HaTorah seminar, World Perfect , 6 values for an ideal world are suggested:

  1. Respect for Human Life. In a perfect world, all people would be guaranteed certain basic human rights, paramount among which must be the right to life. They should be able to live that life without constant fear of its loss and with certain basic dignity.

  2. Peace and Harmony. On all levels -- whether communal or global -- people and nations should co-exist in peace and harmony with respect for each other.

  3. Justice and Equality. All people, regardless of race, sex, or social status should be treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law.

  4. Education. Everyone should receive a basic education that would guarantee functional literacy within society.

  5. Family. A strong, stable family structure needs to exist to serve as the moral foundation for society and as the most important institution for socializing/educating children.

  6. Social Responsibility. On an individual, community, national and global level, people must take responsibility for the world. This should include an organized social network to address basic concerns such as disease, poverty, famine, crime, drug-related problems, as well as environmental and animal protection issues.

There seems to be a universal agreement of people from every race and continent that these six values are fundamental to building a perfect world.

The two civilizations, other than Judaism, which appear to have the greatest impact on the world are Greece and Rome. There is hardly a philosophical thought which didn’t originate with the Greeks.

Rome powerfully shaped Western law, government, administration and engineering. World Perfect shows that, despite this, Greece and Rome were far, far from the six universal values of today. It then goes on to show how Judaism is, in fact, the source of these values.

[18] “Israel's great achievement, so apparent that mention of it is almost trite, was Monotheism. It was an achievement that transformed subsequent history....One may raise the question whether any other single contribution from whatever source since human culture emerged from the Stone Age has had the far reaching effect upon history that Israel in this regard has exerted both through the mediums of Christianity and Islam and directly through the world of Jewish thinkers themselves" (H. and H. A. Frankfort, John A. Wilson, Throkeld Jacobsen, William Irwin, The Intellectual Adventure of Modern Man.)

                Carlyle B Heynes: This one book (the Bible) ... has attracted to it, and had concentrated on it, vastly more thought and has called forth more works, explanatory, illustrative, apologetic, upon its text, its meaning, its geography, its theology, its chronology, its evidences, its inspiration, its origin, than all the rest of the literature of the world put together. An immense bulk of the world's literature owes its origin to this book. (in The Bible, Is it a True Book

[19] Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (See entire epilogue)

[20]  רמב"ם: הל' מלכים (שופטים) ח:יא: כל המקבל שבע מצות ונזהר לעשותן הרי זה מחסידי אומות העולם. ויש לו חלק לעולם הבא וגו'. ומה שכתב אח"כ  והוא שיקבל אותן ויעשה אותן מפני שצוה בהן הקב"ה בתורה והודיענו על ידי משה רבינו שבני נח מקודם נצטוו בהן וגו' מדעת עצמו אמר כן ולא מחז"ל וצ"ע.

1 -

All opinions Monotheistic (ישמעאל did תשובה in his later years)

(רמב"ם הל' מאכלות אסורות פי"א הל' ז)

2 -

3 -

Protestant religions have less of a problem with the Trinity. Probably all opinions would regard them as  Monotheistic in this regard. Primary problem with Protestantism has to do with limitations on freedom of choice (Calvinism believes in pre-determinism); stressing faith over deeds (many fundamentalists believe that salvation is only through faith). However, Mormonism believes that G-d can express Himself on earth as a man and that a man can later become Divine.

4 - "

רמב"ם - idolatrous (in הלכות עכו"ם ט:ד in uncensored versions)

אדומים (כנענים) עובדי עכו"ם הם, ויום ראשון הוא יום אידם לפיכך אסור לתת ולשאת עמהם בארץ ישראל יום חמישי ויום ששי שבכל שבת ושבת ואין צריך לומר יום ראשון עצמו שהוא אסור בכל מקום וכן נוהגין עמהם בכל אידיהם. 

ובהל' מאכלות אסורות פי"א: אבל הנוצרים עובדי ע"ז הם וסתם יינם אסור בהנייה (והצנזור כתב במקומו “אבל אותם העובדים עכו"ם סתם יינם אסור בהנייה)

Other ראשונים hold that Catholics (i.e. the Christians who lived at that time in those places) are not idolatrous:

מאירי - אומות הגדורות בדרכי דתות ונימוסים are considered non-idolatrous.

(In בבא קמא לז: and several other places)

 תוס. ע"ז דף ב ע"ב ד"ה אסור: דעכו"ם שבינינו קים לן בגויהו דלא פלחו לעבודת כוכבים

The   רמ"אpaskens like those  ראשוניםwho say that  ב"נare not commanded on שיתוף:

א"ח קנו א: ויש מקילין בעשיית שותפות עם העכו"ם בזמן הזה משום שאין העכו"ם בזה"ז נשבעים בע"א ואע"ג דמזכירין הע"א מ"מ כונתם לעושה שמים וארץ אלא שמשתתפים שם שמים ודבר אחר ולא מצינו שיש בזה משום לפני עור לא תתן מכשול דהרי אינם מוזהרים על השתוף (ר"ן ספ"ק דע"א ורבי' ירוחם ני"ז ח"ה ותוספות ריש פ"ק דבכורות) ולתת ולשאת עמהם בלא שותפות לכ"ע שרי בלא יום חגיהם (הגמ"י פ"ק מה' ע"א) ועבי"ד הל' ע"א סקמ"ז

וכן פסק הש"ך חו"ם סק"ז

עיין חו"ם ס' קמח הסעיף האחרון המחבר והרמ"א והש"ך שם[20]

Nevertheless, there are degrees of Monotheistic purity. The fact that Christianity retains ideas such as a virgin birth and a trinity means that, although it is a great improvement on beliefs which preceded it, it is still only half-way between paganism and true Monotheism. (Rav Nachman Bulman)

Concerning the Islamic and Christian claims about the status of their founders:

רמב"ם הל' מלכים פ' י (uncensored versions): וכל הדברים האלה של ישוע הנוצרי ושל זה הישמעאלי שעמד אחריו אינן אלא ליישר דרך למלך המשיח...


[21] קדושין סח: א"ר יוחנן משום ר"ש בן יוחי דאמר קרא כי יסיר את בנך מאחרי (דברים ז:ד) בנך הבא מישראלית קרוי בנך ואין בנך הבא מן העובדת כוכבים קרוי בנך 

[22] There are a few exceptions to this such as the מואבי and עמוני. (These are allowed to convert but are not allowed to marry their fellow Jews after conversion) However, any qualifications on conversion (which are mainly qualifications of marriage) no longer apply after סנחריב mixed up the nations.

[23] ר' צדוק הכהן, צדקת הצדיק (רנו): כל אומה כמו שיש לה רע מיוחד כך יש לה גם כן איזה ניצוץ קדוש מיוחד שממנה חיותה כטעם ואתה מחיה את כולם (נחמיה ט) דלולא כן כלא היה וחיות דהש"י ודאי הוא דבר טוב (ע"ש)

[24] פסחים פז: ואמר ר"א לא הגלה הקב"ה את ישראל לבין האומות אלא כדי שיתוספו עליהם גרים (והא דאמר ביבמות קט: רעה אחר רעה תבא למקבלי גרים - היינו כשאינו גר אמיתי) 

[25] See the previous note which implies that the Galus experience also served the first goal of gathering in converts.

[26] דברים כג: כ-כא (כ) לא תשיך לאחיך נשך כסף .... (כא) לנכרי תשיך ולאחיך לא תשיך למען יברכך ד' אלקיך ... 

[27] דברים כב:ג לכל אבדת אחיך

ב"ק קיג: מנין לאבידת הכנעני שהיא מותרת שנאמר לכל אבדת אחיך, לאחיך אתה מחזיר ואי אתה מחזיר לכנעני 

[28] בתורה תמימה (דברים כב:ג ס' כב)

כל המפרשים כתבו בכלל הדין הזה (שאין אנו מצוין להחזיר אבידת עכו"ם) דאיירי בעובדי אלילים הפראים, אבל בסתם אומות דינם כישראל לכל דבר... לדעתי הנה דבר זה מבואר מפורש בדרשת הגמ' ב"ק לח. לענין שור של ישראל שנגח שור של עכו"ם וגו' ... ראה הקב"ה שאין האומות מקיימים שבע מצות עמד והתיר ממונן ע"כ. וכמה עמוקים ונאמנים הדברים הקצרים האלה כי הנה ... הגה בעצמך אנשים שאין מקיימים מצות אלו ורק עושים ההיפך, אוכלים אבר מן החי ואין דין ודיין ביניהם וגוזלים ושופכים דמים ומגלי עריות ומברכים את השם, הרי אין יתרון לאנשים כאלה על חיתו טרף אף במאומה והם מחריבי עולם ומזיקים לחברת האדם...ובודאי אינם ראוים להחשב לסוג אנשים מן הישוב וממילא אין כל דין ומשפט ולכן גם אין חזקת ממונם עליהם אבל אלה המקיימים שבע מצות והם רוב האומות שבזה"ז ובכל המדינות הנאורות נעלה מעל כל ספק שדינם שוה בכל לישראל.

                וכן משמע מהרמב"ם  הל' גזלה ואבדה יא:ג - אבידת הגוי מותרת שנאמר אבדת אחיך והמחזירה הרי זה עובר עבירה מפני שהוא מחזיק ידי רשעי עולם (או לפי רש"י מפני שמראה שאין מצות השבה חשובה עליו למצות בוראו שהרי השיבה גם לעכו"ם שאינו מצווה עליה; ובמאירי שמציאה מקצת קנין הוא וחזרתו דרך חסידות ואין אנו כפופים לחסידות למי שאין לו דת) ואם החזירה לקדש את השם כדי שיפארו את ישראל וידעו שהם בעלי אמונה הרי זה משובח. ובמקום שיש חלול השם (וכגון אם מצאה במקום רוב ישראל והנכרי ידמה שלא נאבדה רק ישראל גנבוה ממנו-סמ"ע סי' רסו סק"ג בשם הב"י) אבידתו אסורה ו(אפילו לא בא לידו -כ"מ) חייב להחזירה ובכל מקום מכניסין כליהם מפני הגנבים ככלי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום (והסביר הסמ"ע סק"ד דלא אסרה התורה אלא השבת אבידה דנפל מבעל העכו"ם בלי ידיעתו ואינו יודע מאיזה מקום נפל וליד מי הגיע שמצאה משא"כ מי שהניח כליו ומטלטליו בחצירו או כיוצא בכוון ולא עלה על דעתו שיתאבד משם אלא הישראל נתוודע לו שגנבים יבואו לעיר ויגנבוהו משם אזי כיון דאין שם אבידה עליו מותר לו להכניסו למקום המשתמר מפני הגניבה מפני דרכי שלום) 

[29] רמב"ם הל' איסורי ביאה יד:ז

אי זה הוא גר תושב זה עכו"ם שקיבל ... המצות שנצטוו בני נח ... ולמה נקרא שמו תושב לפי שמותר לנו להושיבו בינינו בארץ ישראל ...

 (עיין ויקרא כה:לב)

Here we see that non-Jews were allowed to settle in Israel, and that the Jewish nation was commanded to ensure their well-being and to provide settlement arrangements that would ensure that each and every one could make a living. They were given a high degree of autonomy, allowed to create their own cities, and provide for their own Noachide legal system. 

Every recorded nation that has discriminated against another, has maximized the discrimination when on its home territory. We the Jewish nation, by contrast, actually increase our obligations when we are in control! 

In fact the source of many of the laws relating to non-Jews living in Israel is a non-Jewish slave who flees from his master to Israel: 

דברים כג:טז-יז

(טז) לא תסגיר עבד אל אדניו אשר ינצל אליך מעם אדניו (יז) עמך ישב בקרבך במקום אשר יבחר באחד שעריך בטוב לו לא תוננו 


עמך ישב                  - בעיר עצמו

בקרבך                     - ולא בספר

במקום אשר יבחר    - במקום שפרנסתו יוצאה

באחד שעריך            - שלא יהא גולה מעיר לעיר

בטוב לו                    - מנוה הרע לנוה היפה


[30] Chazal point out that the words סיני + שנאה (hate + Mt. Sinai) are the same. This is because, at the very moment when we received the Torah, our distinct moral and spiritual task contrasted us forever from the nations of the world.

[31] Nazi's hatred and fear of Jews: Totally unjustified in terms of material and political power. “It was a metaphysical fear of the true mystery of G-d's ...presence in history as revealed in the continued survival of Israel. ...The hiding G-d of history was a repudiation of everything Nazi Germany stood for." (Eliezer Berkowitz, The Hiding G-d of History)


[32] מהר"ל נצח ישראל פי"ד:...שאין לישראל שום מדריגה בינונית, או שהם מושלים על הכל או שהכל מושלים עליהם...(אצל האדם כתיב ג"כ) בדגת הים וכו' לא זכה נעשה ירוד בפניהם

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