Many people have been discussing this quote, mostly from various Christian perspectives. Some agreeing with it, claiming that Jesus was a Jew and God chose the Jewish people and belief that Salvation is of the Jews, meaning that when the Jews come to accept Jesus the world will be redeemed. So according to many Christians, the Jews play an essential role in the redemption of all humanity by them coming to accept Jesus, so from that perspective, in order for that to happen Jews need to be brought to Jesus through love, not hate and this is all ultimately done for the love of God.
A contrary view is that of Christians subscribing to the idea of replacement theology, that the Jews are no longer chosen, anyone is chosen who accepts Jesus. Which makes love for Jews no more of priority than love for anyone else, nor are they believed to play any significant role in the redemption of humanity. The Christian is obligated to spread the gospel to Jew and non-Jew alike.
The former Christian approach is certainly closer to the traditional Jewish perspective but quite there. The traditional Jewish approach is obviously not going to consider what the New Testament says on this matter, so readers should take this into consideration. However, the teaching in question is something that is born and taught in the Hebrew Bible. So Judaism of course has an understanding of what this teaching means.
The first question one might ask is, why did God choose to make a covenant with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai? Why this two tiered system of Jew and non-Jew? This is a very broad subject, but I will attempt to sketch through it on a basic level. Originally, God created Adam, there was no Jew or non-Jew, but after the sin it changed everything, and we see that humanity descends downhill into idolatry in the preceding chapters, Cain kills Abel, the builders of the Tower of Babel, through to Noah who God chose as a the only righteous man in his generation, worthy of continuing humanity after the flood. According to Judaism a covenant was made with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17). In the Jewish Oral tradition the details of this covenant were clarified that God gave 7 laws to Noach which are binding on all humanity, Jew and non-Jew.
The roots of the covenant God made with the Jewish people, begins with Abraham. By Abrahams time, people had already once again reverted back to idolatry. But we see that the covenant that God would make and promise to Abraham was different to the one that God made with Noah. The difference between Noah and Abraham is that when God commanded Noah to build an Ark and informed him that he would destroy the world, he simply obeyed the command. He did not seek to inform others, encourage them to change their ways. Whereas we see within our oral tradition that Abraham was born of his father Terah, who sold idols. Abraham was brought up surrounded by idolatry and after many years of searching and intellectually challenging this belief system, he himself rejected it and chose God. Why was Abraham chosen? He wasn’t, he chose God.
We see that Abraham was deeply concerned for others and spreading knowledge of God and ethical monotheism. When God then observes how evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and decides to destroy those cities, Abraham protests, proclaiming:
“Will you stomp out the righteous along with the wicked? What if there should be fifty righteous people in the midst of the city? Would you stamp it out rather than spare the place for the sake of fifty righteous people within it?” (Genesis 18:23-25)
What is Abrahams premise here? He is asking God to spare a whole city of wicked people, who are guilty and deserve punishment, for the sake of fifty people. He then bargains with God and brings the number down to ten. But how does this make sense? The logical conclusion would be, if there are fifty or ten people who are righteous, remove them from the city and wipe out everyone who is evil. But Abraham is asking for the whole city to be spared if there are ten righteous people there. The premise is that people are capable of change and repentance, provided that there is a light or righteous people who can serve as role models.
Abraham and the three patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob demonstrate their suitability as the right candidates for the job of God making a covenant with, in order that their descendants would receive the Torah. It is on the merit of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that God made a promise to them that it is through their descendants, the nation of Israel that the whole world would be blessed.
“Hashem said to Abram,’Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your fathers house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” (Genesis 12:1-4)
We will return to this point soon but this is an important background to understanding the purpose and rationale behind why God made a particular covenant with Abrahams descendants the nation of Israel. We can now understand why he chose Israel as opposed to the other nations for this role, but explanation for how this covenant between God and the Jewish people is supposed to redeem humanity requires a bit more exploration.
As we discussed before, regarding Abrahams objection to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the premise is that people can change with role models. His descendants would be tasked with acting as those role models for the entire world. The purpose of the covenant made between God and the Jewish people, is that they are supposed to serve as “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6) To act as a beacon of light in a dark world, as a “light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6).
The means by which they are to achieve this, is by observing the 613 commandments that God gave them at Mount Sinai. The Jewish people’s role, goes beyond a call to righteousness and morality. The role of the Jew is to bring holiness into the world. This may seem to many to be a strange concept, but in Jewish thought, it is through Jews serving God through observing the commandments that holiness enters the world. When the Jews, for whatever reason are not learning Torah and observing the commandments, the whole world suffers and that light of Torah is not being projected and is weaker.
So from a Jewish perspective, a non-Jew, particularly other nations is blessed by God when they do whatever is going to cause Jews to be closer to the Torah and God and keep the commandments. And as God says, he will curse those who curse us, or do anything that would aim to take Jews away from the Torah and from God.
We can in fact see many examples of this throughout history, countries where Jews are granted freedom to practice their religion and are tolerated are often very prosperous countries as a result of it. In our time we see that the United States has a much better record on how it treats its Jews and its relationship with the state of Israel, compared to that of Europe, or other countries. We need only look back at history and we can see that countries that welcomed in Jews flourished, and when they decided to turn their back, their power, influence and morality waned. They fell and the Jews continued to survive elsewhere, one door closes and another opens.
It is not only non-Jews who could be posing an obstacle to Jews fulfilling their role as dictated by the Torah. Many Jews, particularly today, are very confused over what being Jewish means and what its all about. This is an internal argument between different Jewish groups, which nonetheless makes it difficult for many Jews who have for whatever reason been pulled away from true Torah, either by ignorance or their desires or deceived by other ideologies that offer salvation or an escape from anti-Semitism, such as Reform, Communism, Secular Zionism or other religions or cults.
To love God through loving the Jewish people is not because Jewish people are somehow more worthy of being loved than others. It really means that the non-Jew has come to acknowledge the God of the Hebrew Bible and his salvation program as described, to which the Jewish people are the bearers of the light, with a very difficult role of trying to keep that covenant amidst huge resistance from the Pagan world and later under Christianity and Islam, who for most of history have denied that they are still chosen by God for that mission, claiming that at some point they blew it.
An eternal covenant that was made to Abraham, through Isaac, then through Jacobs descendants and fulfilled by the giving of the Torah at Sinai, that in spite of the numerous references throughout the Bible stating that this covenant is eternal, Christianity and Islam have for the most part claimed it is no more, salvation now lays exclusively through the cross or the Koran.
A non-Jew need not convert to Judaism to find salvation according to the Torah, although that door is open to anyone who wishes to take on the responsibility, which is not easy. God made a covenant with all humanity through Noah, a non-Jew need only observe those 7 Noahide laws and he can merit everything in the next world that a Jew would by having to observe all of the commandments.
Loving Jews for the sake of drawing them towards Jesus or hoping that they will assimilate and abandon their God and the commandments is not what God meant when he made his promise to Abraham. Loving them, in order to help them observe the Torah and bring light and holiness into the world is.
One might come to question the correlation between the waning support for Israel under the Obama administration, the multimillion dollar enterprise to bring Jews to Christianity lead mostly by America’s Evangelical Christians and the decline in US global influence and the huge instability in the Middle East. As well as Jews and Israelis being complicit in this, through efforts from within to undermine the Torah and Israel’s God given right to the land of Israel.
It is the prayer of the faithful remnant of Israel, that we see in our time the fulfilment of the words of the prophets that the Jewish people will return to God and to Torah, as well as the land, and that the whole world will know God.
Towards the end of our daily prayer services, three times a day we read the following:
“Therefore we place our hope in You. Lord our God, that we may soon see the glory of Your power, when You will remove abominations from the earth, and idols will be utterly destroyed, when the world will be perfected under the sovereignty of the Almighty, when all humanity will call on Your name, and the earths wicked will all turn to You. All the worlds inhabitants will realise and know that to You every knee must bow and every tongue will swear loyalty. Before You, Lord our God, they will kneel and bow down and give honour to Your glorious name. They will accept the yoke of Your kingdom, and You will reign over them soon and for ever. For the kingdom is Yours, and to all eternity You will reign in glory, as it is written in Your Torah: “The Lord will reign for ever and ever.” And it is said:”Then the Lord shall be King over all the earth: on that day the Lord shall be One and His name One.”