- Farrah Mashihi
Parashat Yitro: Light Up This World
In Parashat Yitro, Bnei Yisrael was granted the Torah on Har Sinai. Accepting the Torah was no easy task, as it entailed Divine responsibilities that were foreign to the nations of the world. HaShem offered the Torah to every single nation and each rejected it one after the other- until the Jewish people accepted the Torah with open arms. When HaShem offered the Jews the Torah, they responded: “נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע” (“we shall do and we shall hear”) (Shemot 24:7). Essentially, the Jews were willing to perform whatever it was that HaShem commanded- they chose to follow HaShem’s Will. This raises the question of how the Jews are considered the “Chosen Nation” when it was they themselves who chose to follow the commandments.
When the Jewish nation chose to follow HaShem, HaShem was in complete control of the situation. Midrash Sifrei Devarim 344:6 teaches us that HaShem pre-determined that the Jews would merit the Torah. Nonetheless, HaShem still proposed the Torah to other nations, even though He knew that the Jews would receive it. Hashem did this so that the other nations would have the opportunity to observe the commandments as well. However, even when HaShem offered the other nations the Torah, He knew they would all reject it, so why didn’t HaShem hand the Torah directly to the Jews?
The answer is that HaShem wanted the other nations to feel that they had the chance to observe the mitzvot. They were fully capable of living for a Divine purpose, but instead, they chose to indulge in physical pleasures and worldly desires that were against HaShem’s commands. Therefore, the Jews are the “Chosen Nation”, as HaShem pre-ordained the exceptional Jewish nation to be a reflection of HaShem’s light in this physical world.
Bz”H, may we take advantage of the invaluable responsibility as Jews to radiate HaShem’s Will, and Bz”H, may we always have this exclusive opportunity! Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach!