Most Favored Nation
The portion of Yisro contains perhaps the most popular of all Biblical
treatises The Ten Commandments. But the portion contains much more than
commandments. It also contains Hashem's elocution defining his people as
the most treasured in the world. What makes Jew chosen? Before giving the
Torah to them, Hashem enunciates the prerequisites. "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" (Exodus 19:5).
Note: Judaism's exclusivity is not dependant on birthright alone. It is
dependant on commitment to Torah and Mitzvos. It is not a restricted club,
limited only to those who are born as Jews, descendants of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob; it is also exclusive to those who commit to observe, whether, of
Asian, African, or European descent. Thus, the Torah clearly states that
those who hearken and observe the covenant are worthy to be a beloved treasure.
What needs clarification is the final statement, " for Mine is the entire
world." What difference does that make in the context of commitment, and
Hashem cherishing those who choose His path?
An old Jewish Bubba Ma'aseh serves as a wonderful parable.
Sadie Finkelstein lived in an apartment on New York's Lower East Side for
about 50 years. Her son, David, had made it big in the corporate world as
cosmopolitan businessman, wheeling and dealing, traveling to places as
far-flung as the Himalayas and Russia's Ural Mountains. Of course, he
shopped the finest Paris boutiques and European stores on his excursions to
the more civilized portions of the world.
For his mother's 75th birthday, David decided to send her a gift of the
finest Russian caviar and France's most exquisite Champagne. From his
hotel suite in Paris he had the items shipped with one-day delivery, the
Champagne and caviar on ice!
A few days later, David called his mother up. "Ma," he asked, "did you
"Sure, I received package," his mother said. She did not seem impressed
"Well how was it?" David asked in anticipation.
All he heard was a sigh. Then a pause. "To tell you truth ," said Sadie
"The ginger ale was a very sour and the blackberry jelly tasted to salty."
What makes a treasured item? What defines glory? If one is locked in his
apartment and sees not the world, his treasures may be relegated to
crackers and shmaltz herring. One may say, the Jews think that their
culture is Divine, but they live in a myopic world.
Hashem says, "No!" "You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all
peoples, for Mine is the entire world"
In proclaiming the Jewish people as the most beloved treasure, Hashem
adds, "I know every culture, I saw every diamond, I own all the gold and
all the precious jewels, and yet there will be no greater treasure to me
than they who observe my laws and commandments!"
In choosing His people, the Almighty explicates, that he has proverbially
tasted all the world's delicacies. He has seen all the world's glory. He
has seen every fascinating custom and gazed at every civilization. His
celestial palate has taste for the most Heavenly and Divine
delicacies. Then He defines the Jews as the greatest treasure in a world
that belongs solely to Him! That means we are a treasure among whatever
archeologists, historians, sociologists, feel is priceless. We are a
treasure amongst treasures!
The Almighty who lacks for nothing enjoys nothing more than the joy of His
dearest people those who are chosen because they have chosen.
Dedicated in memory of Esther Hammerman by Shayne and Marty Kessler
Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.
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The author is the Associate Dean of the
Yeshiva of South Shore.
Drasha is the e-mail edition of FaxHomily, a weekly torah facsimile on the weekly portion which is sponsored by The Henry and Myrtle Hirsch Foundation