Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Special Destiny Calls

Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat V'zot HaBracha
Moses begins his last speech- delivered right before his death- with comments meant for the entire Jewish people. As the Ibn Ezra writes, "This parsha begins with a general blessing for all of Israel, followed by specific comments addressed to each tribe, followed by general comments once more."
Essentially, Moses tells them: Israel, remember who you are! Remember how you became a nation. Remember your purpose, your task as G-d's chosen people. He reminds them of Mt. Sinai and the "fiery law" they received there, "an inheritance for the congregation of Jacob" (Deuteronomy 33:2-5).
All this recalls Exodus 19:6 and the strange comment of Rashi on that verse. The verse reads: "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you should speak to the Children of Israel." Rashi writes: "No more and no less." An enigmatic statement, indeed.
A thought by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, however, makes the matter clear. The Rabbis inform us that the Second Temple was destroyed because the Jews "neglected to say the proper blessing before studying Torah" (Bava Metzia 85b). Rav Kook explains that they forgot the blessing's core- the words "who chose us from among the nations." They forgot that the Jewish people's raison d'etre is to serve as a holy nation, a beacon of truth for the rest of humanity. They forgot that there is no point in their existence- and certainly no point in their having a state and a Temple- if they ignore their G-d given task.
Before giving the Jews the Torah, G-d wished to make this principle crystal clear. He wished them to understand a single point- their mission as a holy people and a kingdom of priests. "No more and no less." Only after Moses underscored this foundation to them and attained their consent did G-d give them the Torah.
This is the essence of Judaism- holiness, chosenness, life as a nation with a unique destiny defined by G-d. It is with this essential idea that Moses begins his very last speech to the Jewish people in Parshat Zot HaBracha.
Peirush HaMaccabee
Chag Sameach!
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