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    Gentile blessing – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why is one of the morning blessings, “who did not make me a gentile”?

    A. Some authorities have a positive version, She-asani Yisra’el, praising God “who made me Jewish”, but we are reluctant to change an accepted wording.

    The negative formula may be linked with the Talmudic debate between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel (Eruvin 13b) over whether it would have been better for man not to have been created. Eventually they took a vote and decided it would have been better not to have been created, but since man has been created, let him examine his deeds. We could add that it is better that we are not pagans, since they do not have one true God, nor the Torah way of living.

    The Hebrew says shello asani nochri, “Who did not make me a heathen”. Texts that have goy instead of nochri are rather ambiguous since goy can also denote a Jew, as in Ex. 19:6 (goy kadosh).

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