Sh’lo Asani Goy

One day, a soon-to-be Ger is a Goy. Then, moments later, the Ger is 100% a Jew. Not a single gene, chromosome, or biological aspect of the Ger has changed. Biologically, the Ger is the exact same. Yet, on the deepest level, this person has made a dramatic change. The key being that this dramatic change from a Goy to a Jew was not physical, not biological, but wholly mental, wholly spiritual. In other words, the mental, the spiritual is what separates a Goy from a Jew. Living according to the Torah makes a person a Jew, while living otherwise makes a person a Goy.

Last night, I was texting with a group of friends from high school who were saying that there are winners and losers in life. And, to cite an example of a winner, they spoke about Tom who “went to [an Ivy League School], has a corporate law job at a prestigious firm, has a beautiful wife and daughters, lives in [an expensive town in NJ], Tiger blood. Winning.” Conversely, someone who doesn’t go to a prestigious school, doesn’t have a high-paying job, doesn’t have a physically beautiful wife and daughters, doesn’t have a big house in an expensive neighborhood, that person has weaker blood coursing through their veins and is a loser. This bothered me very much. Partly because I don’t like elitism. I don’t like condescension. I don’t like people being treated as less than. But more than this, I hated that there was such a large group of people who believed that this perspective was not only acceptable but preferable. A perspective that says that life is a sum-zero game and, as a consequence, there will always be winners and losers. And, in this game, the point of life is to be a winner. This perspective is kenegid Torah. And for this reason, I want to call it a Goyish perspective. Alternatively, the opposite of this perspective, a perspective that values deeper notions of what it means to be a winner, a non-physical perspective so it is not sum-zero, a perspective that stems from chesed, emes, and other holy traits, this would be a Torah perspective. And, for this reason, I want to call this perspective a Jewish perspective.

So, with this in mind, in the morning, when we say, Sh’lo Asani Goy, we aren’t thanking G-d for not making us a Goy biologically. We’re thanking G-d for not making us a Goy mentally, spiritually. And, when I think of so many people I know, Jews and non-Jews, who live according to innumerable goyish perspectives, my Sh’lo Asani Goy morning bracha this morning better connected me with Hashem. I am truly grateful, truly thankful that my mind pulls me towards deeper things than, lack of a better word, goyish pursuits. Baruch Atta Hashem, Elokainu Melech HaOlam, Sh’lo Asani Goy.

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