These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE] Parshat Yitro: The Model of Nationhood

Posted on February 6, 2015 by Daniella Adler

Tags: , , , , , ,

daIn this week’s parsha, פרשת יתרו, God tells Moshe ואתם תהיו–לי ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש, “and you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). What does this statement mean? This statement recognizes the strengths of both the individual and the community, the mundane and the holy. These are all aspects through which the Jewish people serve God and function in the world. Being part of B’nei Yisrael, the Children of Israel, requires a nation of individuals to elevate every aspect of life through the recognition and carrying out of God’s Law. It is a society of creating holiness through righteousness, justice and loving-kindness. It is about a collective serving the individual and the individual serving the collective. What God is asking of the people is for them to be the template for the ultimate model of leadership and nationhood. To strike a balance in life, straddling two worlds- the physical and the spiritual. One cannot exist without the other. To deny one side is to deny the reality of this world. A world where the actions of day-to-day life can have uplift and where holiness is within the consciousness of even the most powerful king. May we all strive as individuals and as representatives of the People of Israel to emulate these words through our actions and reflect what it means to be ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.
Shabbat Shalom!