By: Noah Roffe | Chicago
In this week’s parasha, parshat Yitro, Klal Yisrael becomes a complete nation at Har Sinai.
Rav Soloveitchik zz”l explains in Kol Dodi Dofek that every nation is bound together by a common historical experience and a common goal that the nation is striving towards.
Yetziat Mitzrayim and Kriat Yam Suf were the historical experiences that bound the nation together, and now “ועתה”, at Ma’amad Har Sinai, we are given a common goal:
וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ־לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ – And you should be for Me a kingship of preists and a holy nation
Rav Avraham Ben Ha’Rambam beautifully explains that here Hashem is endowing us with the mission of leading humanity in the ways of Hashem, just as a priest would lead his followers. And soon after we are given this tremendous task of being an Or L’Goyim, Hashem gives us a guidebook on how to fulfill that mission: the Torah.
Rav Meir Kahana zz”l poetically informs us:
A Jew is able to indicate a turning point in history and say: At that place and at that time we became a nation. It was that glorious morning of majesty at the bottom of Har Sinai, as all of the nation witnessed the voices and fires, the sound of the shofar, and the cloudy mountain. And Hashem, the omnipotent, went down to create his nation. The Jew knows constantly that there is a special reason to his/her existence, that an eternal covenant was established on that day between us and Hashem, that its foundation is “and you should be for Me a kingship of priests and a holy nation” and He conditioned with it “if you listen attentively to My voice and uphold My covenant”. The world was created for the Jew alone, and the Jew was created to fulfill the mitzvot of the Torah. The Torah is the words of God… The Torah is the path of life, the guide to completeness and to holiness. The Torah is the condition for the national existence of the Jews.
Am Yisrael is not like the other nations of the world and our nationality is not like theirs as well!
As Rabbeinu Saadiah Goan famously wrote: אומתנו איננה אומה כי אם בתורותיה – our nation is not a nation without our Torah.
Our nationality and the existence of our nation is intrinsically connected to our mission of being a Or L’Goyim, which we cannot do without the Torah.
From now until March 11th, every Jew of age has the opportunity to make Torah an important influence in our national institutions by voting for the Orthodox Israel Coalition in the WZC. Furthermore every Jew of age has the opportunity to help Am Yisrael become a ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש!