Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Chosen People’s Duty to Choose

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

The Torah says, “You are children of the L-rd your G-d.... You are a holy nation to the L-rd your G-d. The L-rd has chosen you from all nations on the face of the earth to be His own special nation” (Deuteronomy 14:1-2). Rashi explains, “Your actual holiness comes to you from your ancestors, but in addition, ‘The L-rd has chosen you.’” In other words, not only did G-d choose our ancestors, but us as well, as it says in our prayers, “G-d chooses His People Israel with love.”

Not in vain did our sages declare that the loftiest blessings we recite are the Torah blessings. There we raise up the banner of “G-d’s choosing us from among all the nations and giving us His Torah.” All of us, the whole Jewish People, according to their various streams down through the generations, past, present and future, belong to this holiness and specialness. We were born that way, and it is not a matter of our choosing.

Let us not forget, however, that it is not just a matter of our having been born Jews with a good soul, and our having been chosen by the Creator. We also have a duty to choose the path and deeds with which we will be able to elevate that good soul from the level of potential to practice.

This matter is alluded to by the juxtaposition between the statement of fact that we are “a holy nation” (Deuteronomy 14:2; see Ba’al HaTurim) and the command, “Do not eat any abomination” (14:3). With eating, man’s free choice in being able to put into his mouth whatever he wants finds tangible expression. Not just food to nourish the body is an option for us, but spiritual food, those forms of culture and education which nourish the soul.

Right now, we must come to recognize the fact that we are a chosen people, that G-d chose us lovingly from among all the nations to be for Him a special people. His purpose was for us to shower the whole world with light and benevolence. We have to recognize our own special worth. At the same time, we must know and recognize that we must choose our path and our deeds, following the ways of G-d and keeping His Torah. By such means, the soul of the nation and of every single Jew in its midst will be illuminated. And may we merit to see with our own eyes how “a new light will shine over Zion” (morning prayers), and from Zion, to the entire world.

Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom.
Chodesh Tov.

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