From the Rabbi’s Study…Shabbat, February 2, 2024/23 Shevat 5784
The Torah portion summary has Yitro/Jethro who was Moses’ father-in-law, a Kenite shepherd and priest of Midian brings Zipporah, the wife of Moses and their children to the Israelite camp. Jethro suggests to Moses that the burden of leadership is too much for one man to bear. He advises Moses to choose people with whom to share the leadership. Moses heeds the advice. Moses and the Israelites camp at Mount Sinai. Moses ascends the mountain and G-d speaks to him, giving the Ten Commandments.
There are a myriad of Judaic concepts and values containing Leadership, Revelation, the Chosen People, and a Kingdom of Priests.
Revelation was one of the greatest events in the entire Torah, G-d at Mount Sinai, in which G-d communicates with the people of Israel. The different divisions of Judaism comprehend the nature of the revelation. Some believe that G-d communicated with us in actual words, while others believe that the revelation consisted of a mysterious human encounter with G-d. One rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Harry Cohenson, taught me that the Israelites heard the first two commandments and were pushed backward and afraid, so Moses received all the Torah from G-d to bring to the Jewish people. As I stated earlier there are many variations of the revelation.
While just recently a Muslim leader at the Prayer Over the City mentioned that some people think they are chosen and special, and everyone should feel chosen and special. This Muslim leader did not know the true essence of the meaning of “the Chosen People.”
The statement comes from Exodus 19:5 that the children of Israel (Jacob) will be G-d’s treasured people. G-d’s promise of special election or that of chosenness has been the main guiding force of Jewish life for thousands of years. G-d has singled out the Jewish people and made special demands upon them. G-d’s demand was to follow not just the Ten Commandments but the total of 613 Commandments! Jews would conform to a standard set for no other people. The standard of living a moral and ethical life. The children of Israel entered this covenant/agreement with G-d of their own free will by saying, “All that G-d has spoken, we will do.”
Keep in mind that Abraham believed in One G-d/ Monotheism while the pagans and Polytheistic people lived all around him. It would be over 1900 B.C.E. years before the common era and another 400 years before Christianity took the form of Roman Catholicism faith. Then another faith formed 232 years later or in the year 632 of Islam formed a new faith. Today, the Jewish people still strive for doing gemilut chasidim/acts of righteous behavior and tikkun olam/ repairing the world.
G-d further instructs the Israelites that He wants them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6) This means that priests bring people closer to G-d, so should the Israelites have been called to play the part of priest to other nations, bringing them closer to G-d and righteousness. As G-d told the Israelites to be a holy nation, which means to be separated from false beliefs and idolatry of other nations. Thus the Jewish people by adhering to G-d and obeying G-d’s commandments.
Today, Israel is in a war against pure evil. The world of nations and people have their opinions on how the Jewish people should behave during this war. The Jewish people inform the enemy to let their women and children along with the elderly to move to a safe area. I ask you this question, “Name a nation that does this action before going into a war with their enemy?” The answer you just shouted… “ NONE!”
Most people are standing with Israel and pray for the Jewish people and their success in all their endeavors. That is why we ARE The Chosen People.
Am Ysrael Chai! Long Live Israel!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder
I am knitting hats for the IDF soldiers in green (Army shades) or black in worsted weight yarn, wool or acrylic or wool/acrylic mix washable and for warmth. If you are interested, I will send you the instructions which are approved for the IDF.
The hats may have a special note from you and must be in separate Ziplock bags. I will then ship them to New York.
One of my friends in New York is filling bags with supplies for the IDF with food, specific clothing and tools that may be purchased on Amazon. Many individuals that travel to and from Israel have been volunteering to facilitate this program.
My friend is personally traveling shortly with the next shipment to Israel, and meeting with family and the IDF commanders and soldiers.
When the war started over 300,000 civilians were called up to serve. That is why there is a need for supplies. I and many other Jewish people of the diaspora (lands outside of Israel) are participating in helping Israel through tzedakah and supplies.
A mitzvah for our brethren.