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We Are All Goyim

Nechama'le was an only girl with a number of brothers. Her brothers used to fight and wrestle a great deal. One time, as two of her brothers were beating each other up, Nechama'le closed her eyes and said with great emotion "Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha'olam she'lo asani BOY."

Every morning we all thank Hashem for not creating us as Gentiles. What is strange is that we say "shelo asani Goy". The Jewish people are referred to by the Torah as a "Goy" many times. One instance is in this past weeks parsha where Hashem says to us
"Vi'atem tihiyu lee mamleches kohanim vi'GOY kadosh." So we too are Goyim. Goy just means "nation". So why do we thank Hashem for not making us Goyim when we are really Goyim ourselves?

Rav Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini [born in Jerusalem 1833 died in Chevron 1904] in his monumental encyclopedic work "Sdei Chemed" explains that "Goy" means the Jewish people as a whole. However when referring to an INDIVIDUAL the word Goy denotes a Gentile. So the bracha makes sense. We are thanking Hashem as individuals for not making us as Gentiles. [For many sources on the topic see Piskei Tshuvos Vol. 1 Page 377-8].

Shavua Tov Sweetest Friends!!

why do converts say the bracha? hashem made them goyim and they actively changed their status.


probably for the same reason they say "avoteinu" when, from a biological perspective, our forefathers were not theirs.

once they become a jew, they get the whole kit and kaboodle.

"ger she'nisgayer kikatan shenolad dami" - Converts are considered to be "born again"...

Dear Rav Ally
Some siddurim I have seen use this lashon of נכרי instead of the lashon of גוי in this bracha (namely the singers siddur which is the official siddur of the united synagouge here in glorious England) what is the nafka minah between the two words, and most importantly which is the correct lashon for this bracha?

Dearest Ben

There are achronim who have such a nusach [not only Rabbi Sacks..] but that doesn't solve the problem because nochri means a Jew [from a different family] in many instances.

I heard that Rav Soloveitchik ZT'L would substitute nochri.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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