Orthodox Judaism/quick question
QUESTION: Do you or other members of your faith believe that you are "above" me in ANY way due to being "the chosen ones"?
I follow no religion.
ANSWER: No. We are just different.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: What a terrible answer from someone who is supposed to be an expert! Here is a copy of the answer I received from another person.
Thank you for writing, and your question is an important one.
I should begin by saying that I am writing as an individual Rabbi, and I certainly can not speak for all Jews.
In my opinion, and for the 50 years in which I have led congregations and taught both in my own congregation and in many inter-faith occasions, there is absolutely no way in which someone born into a Jewish family or converts to Judaism is superior to anyone else - religious or not of any faith.
I have always interpreted the Biblical text to mean that historically Jews were apparently the first to choose to follow a religious path personally and socially in our approach, rules and customs. Thereafter, at least in Western civilization, two other religious traditions grew out of the Jewish tradition, which Jews respect as equally valid for their respective adherent as Judaism.
We were given the gift of a Jewish path in life consistent with our understanding of making the world a better place for all humanity. No one has to become Jewish to either also contribute to a better world for all and/or experience whatever is meant by salvation.
Let's hope that soon peace will come to all humanity with respect and justice for everyone.
The answer you have given me is not acceptable! I'm not someone in disguise. I'm a true follower of common sense and religion just does not fit in my life. I grew up in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights area of Ohio. You might be familiar with the area as there are many Jews(Orthodox as well) who live there. ALL of which are very nice people and I support their deli's often, as the food is wonderful. I have tried to talk to people of the faith before and they don't seem to want to discuss anything related to their religion with anyone who does not follow. I am confused as to why?
If anybody asks me about Orthodox Judaism, I will tell them it is a very closed minded way of thinking and they seem to give you "the run around" when asked anything. This is not how you create good relationships with people. Did you ever think YOU are the ones making enemies and not the other way around?
I would have respected a honest answer. If it is truly NO, then please tell me why? And why is there so much information out there about inequality in your religion? Again, I'm just trying to get some honest answers?
If you thought you were in ANY way above or better, that would not bother me that much. You would come off as many other people do to me. Many of the Christians believe that I am going to Hell because I will not accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I have been a good person all my life and I know there is no hell in my future. BUT, I BELIEVE practitioners of ALL religions are misguided.
I'm not a big fan of the Islamic religion as you may have guessed. America seems to be one of the few friends of Israel. Both my grandfathers served in the United States Military in WW2, my uncle did in Vietman, my cousins and many close friends of mine have been to the Middle East to defend OUR way of life. I am a practitioner of martial arts and Krav Maga is one of the best as far as I'm concerned. Just why should my family and friends be helping you? Especially if you think we are below you in some way?
We will ALL be truly judged one day. By whom or what, I have no clue. Things are not looking good for you though. WE ARE ALL TRULY EQUAL!
I'm sorry my answer wasn't in full. I do not profess to be an expert on all things, just Judaism, and I thought I did answer your question. I did not realize you wanted support for my answer, but I am happy to give it.
My honest answer is still -
No, I do not think we are better than others, I think we are just different. We follow different laws, different holidays, different dress style. We are also the same in many ways - dreams, desires, and we follow the law of the land we live in.
I do believe that there is life after death, but we believe that it applies to all people, and that anyone can go to a place of reward or of punishment after their death, based on their behavior, not their religious beliefs. Meaning, Jews and non-Jews can go to what many would call 'heaven', and both can end up in hell, if they live evilly.
I am in college for a degree in the medical field, and have some orthodox Jewish classmates who are uncomfortable talking about Judaism (as are some people you described) with our classmates, but I have no problem doing so. The professors often turn to me when they have questions about our religion. I think the reason they don't like to discuss it is because often, especially when growing up orthodox, they don't know the reason they do things, or the historical background for it, they just do it because that is how they were taught. They may also not know laws that they never had a need to learn - such as laws pertaining to how to tread a dead body before burial and organ or tissue donation, etc. So they get edgy because they feel like they should know this, but when would they have had the opportunity to learn it?
Also, when I said different - I meant that, too. We have such a different way of life than most of the people on this planet, and it makes many Jews uncomfortable trying to explain our difference, or even trying to bridge the gap. It would help if all people would focus on how we are all the same, instead of on our differences. Sadly, it doesn't usually work out that way, and people all over the world are prosecuted because they are different.
Honestly - while it's true that the largest percentage of any one type of people killed in WW2 were Jews - most people forget that gypsies, dark-skinned people, mentally challenged people, among others, were also killed for being "imperfect" in some way. To me, WW2 was the quintessential example of prosecution of others for their differences. Why does the world not remember all of those people, too?
Thank you to your family for their efforts in the wars - they, with my great uncle, helped save the lives of many of the people I love.
What do you mean when you say 'information about inequality in your religion'?
I am happy to answer any questions you have, and to clarify any of my answers if they are not clear. I am also happy to find out any answers if I don't know them.
Best of luck,