Parsha_Push for Yitro
Rabbanit Dr. Adina Sternberg
Anne Shirley, In Anne of Green Gables, claims that it is better to dream big and be disappointed than not to have any hopes or expectations. Indeed, our aspirations aren’t always fulfilled, and even if they are, it may take more time and effort than we originally assumed.
In our Parsha, God marks a high goal for the people of Israel – to be a “segula”, a treasured possession, and to become a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. I would suggest the designation of priesthood relates to the service the people of Israel will do for the world, mediating between humanity and spirituality.
This Divine designation will be repeated throughout the Torah, however only the “segula” and holy nation attributes will come back, and the kingdom of priests will somehow get lost on the way.
Why is that?
I would suggest this has to do with the sin of the golden calf. God can choose the people of Israel to be his prized nation (“segula”) and make them holy by putting them through the Sinai experience and giving them the Torah. Yet, to mediate between God and the world, the people of Israel need to earn that status. If the people of Israel aren’t loyal to God, how can they represent Him to the world, or be worthy of representing the world to Him.
So, the people of Israel will need to go through a process, internalizing their holy status on one hand and practicing it fully in their day to day lives. Only when we learn to embody these expectations, can we work our way up to our initial designated role. Indeed, Isaiah promises us that in the future the people of Israel will be considered priests, the worshipers of God.
The times we are in present to us the dual challenge of assuming the unique Jewish identity while trying to transmit important values to the world. I believe that we need to start by strengthening a united Jewish nation with strong Jewish values and practices; only then will we be able to shine bright and bring light to the rest of the world.