Some friends of mine invited a bunch of us to spend Sukkot with them this weekend and I had a lovely time. They miraculously managed procure a lulav, despite the shortage, and gave a thorough exegesis of the holiday and the symbolism of the lulav components.
Some of the conversations I had at or after the party highlighted the fact that I don’t know very much about Judaism. I’m from New York, so I know plenty of Yiddish, but I’ve known very few religious Jews. (Oh, and I’ve seen the Shari Lewis Passover and Hanukkah specials). I don’t have a burning ambition to be able to pass an ideological turing test for all religions, but there’s one element of Judiasm I’ve always found confusing, anSo, I’d be up for doing a little more reading.
I tend to get thrown by what it means for a god to have a chosen people. I tend to hear that in a kinda Calvinist sense, where, at best, the unchosen seem to be left out of God’s plan and, at worst, they exist as a way of carrying out God’s plans for the people He’s actually interested in (think of God hardening Pharaohs heart or using the Babylonians to punish His people).
I’ve been told this isn’t how it works, so I’d like to learn more (preferably without struggling through all the midrash on my own). Does anyone have any suggestions for essays or books by Jews on the topic of chosenness or discussing whether the God of Abraham wants anything from gentiles?
My ignorance on this subject tends to confuse me when I look at the history of Christianity, too. There just seems to be such a big break between a religion intended only for matrilineal descendants of one tribe and a religion that evangelizes everyone that I always feel like I’d find Christianity more plausible if it didn’t claim to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
So have pity on my ignorance (I’m only up to Jeremiah) and recommend some readings.