As the Children of Israel stood at Mount Sinai, God declared to them the special relationship they would share through accepting the Torah:
“You shall be to me a treasure from among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
This grand declaration, while famous, nevertheless bears some awkward anomalies. Why not state, more succinctly, “You shall be to me a treasure from among all peoples, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” Why the repetition of “you shall be?” And why break up these two declarations with the seemingly irrelevant phrase, “for all the earth is Mine”?
The wording hints that God here made two separate statements, to two separate groups. Certainly God speaks to Israel here, but whom else does God address?
God’s first statement addresses those indicated in the statement — “You shall be to me a treasure from among all peoples.” God here calls to all peoples of the earth, declaring that any among them can connect to Him through the Torah. Those individuals from among the nations who do so will be a treasure to God.
The second statement addresses Israel’s place among the nations — “And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” Just as the priests stand out among the nation of Israel as the spiritual guides of the people as a whole, the nation of Israel serves that purpose among the peoples of the earth.
Let us all embrace that gift of God that came to the world at Mount Sinai, the Torah, a gift for all peoples, and unite in service to the One and only God of all the earth.
Based on Shla”h, Parshas Yithro
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