Selected Topics from: S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology
Election of Israel:
Reasons Why God "Chose" Israel
- Not because of inherent superiority.
- Traditions that speak of Israel being unworthy: an arbitrary choice by divine grace.
- Primordial, predestined: Decreed before the Creation.
- Merit of Abraham: The first righteous human in biblical history.
- Israel accepted God.
- Legend of how Torah was offered to other nations, but they rejected it.
- Because Israel was oppressed, importance of humility.
- "Firstborn" concept:
- Implies that relationship between God and Israel, though prererential, is not exclusive.
Points not raised by Schechter:
- Homiletical context: Need to console Jews in a state of defeat and oppression.
- There is no Hebrew equivalent of "chosen people" as adjective + noun.
- In prayers: "Blessed are you, Lord God... who has chosen us...and sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to..."
- Dualistic perception of humanity: Israel as only monotheistic people in pagan world.
- Cf. Covenant of "Children of Noah."