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Yitro 5761
Feb 11-17, 2001-by Reb Yosef

God Makes A Choice

In this Parashah, we have two very important things.  Most often, with this Parashah, we talk about God giving the Ten Commandments and the Torah which we celebrate on Shavuot.  But something just as important happens before God does that.  He chooses us and tells us what He wants us to do for Him.

The Torah says (Perek Yud-Tet - Chapter 19): 

1. In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, on this day, they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai:

2. They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai and encamped in the Wilderness; and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain:

3. Moses ascended to God, and Hashem called to him from the mountain, saying, "So shall you say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel:

4. 'You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on the wings of eagles and brought you to Me:

5. And now, if you hearken well to Me and observe My covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples, for Mine is the entire world:

6. You shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the Children of Israel.":

This is the place in the Torah where God tells us what He wants.  For those of you who know all about Shavuot, you know that our ancestors accepted this as their divine mission. 

I was reading a wonderful book this Shabbat that made me think of something I have never thought about before.  Do you realize that each of us has an ancestral line, from us to our mothers and father and to their mothers and fathers, on and on that extends all the way back to the people that God was talking to at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai).  I think that is incredible. 

Now, let's take a quick look at 5 and 6.  What do you think Hashem means?  Our sages tell us that we are to be a "light to the nations."  In other words, we are suppose to live in such a way that other people see what it means to live properly and to be close to God through the way we live.  This is a very hard thing to do - everyone knows that.  The key is to try to do a little bit each day that helps.  There are two things I can think of that are good examples.  One comes from the Ten Commandments:  Honor your father and mother.  In other words, remember that our parents are here to help us learn and grow.  When we help them, we honor them.  The other is something that God will tell us to do later - love and respect all other Jews.  That is a tough one but it is also very important. 

Did you know that, in this very same section, God talks about our homes and families?  He does.  Look at pasuk gimel (3).  Look at how God says "say to the House of Jacob" and then He says "relate to the Children of Israel."  Isn't the House of Jacob and Children of Israel the same?  Not quite.  When God said House of Jacob, he meant homes, families, and especially our mothers - mothers make a home.  Our sages teach us that, in this case, Children of Israel meant the men.  I think it meant everyone.  What do you think?


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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