The Uniqueness of the Nation
 
Rivka Olenick
 
"And I will take you to Me for a people, I will be to you a God, and ye will get to know that I am 'H your God, Who bringith you out from the burdens of Egypt." (Exodus 6:7) "I am the God Who took you out of Egypt, now I will be a God to you and you will get to know Me as your God, and I will take you to Me as my people" seems to make better logical sense. However, the Torah was not written to satisfy anyone's expectations. What is the importance of stating first, "I will take you to Me for a people?" Li L'am, My people you will be to Me. What are we supposed to understand having established first that we are His people? We have not come to Mt. Sinai yet. We are to be as His entity of "My people" His, with no land, nothing that is rightfully ours, just us, a people. Shouldn't we first understand that God took us and brought us out of Egypt? Wouldn't it make sense that first we would see what God did for us?
 
In Egypt we had no freedom, we were treated as aliens, and were oppressed in every way. Harsh laws and taxes were imposed on us. What did we have there besides all of these heavy burdens? What was our existence there? We, the descendents of Abraham who sunk into the depths of helplessness living in the most pathetic state as slaves! Slaves of the most corrupt, materialistic and animalistic nation. We were total "strangers" and hated with no one to take up our cause. Doesn't the Torah command us to welcome the stranger, treat them kindly and with justice because in Egypt we were once strangers with no rights of our own. What happened to the free will given to us, endowed by our Creator? We had no free will and so even more so it seems logical to know completely that God took us out of Egypt. That is not how the pusuk is phrased. He heard the "groaning of the Children of Israel." So, wasn't that a call, so to speak to God to take us out of Egypt? When He takes us out then we would know He took us to Him for a people, not before.
 
According to the Ramban: "He assured them that He will take them out from the land of the Egyptians and that they will no longer suffer from their heavy burden. So God asserted His judgements against the Egyptians and made us aware of our own right to call to Him to remember His covenant with the patriarchs. When we remembered our rights, which "is" our free will, we called Him. He freed us of our bondage and the other nations witnessed this! The Ibn Ezra states: "When I will redeem you with an outstretched arm visible to all nations, you shall know that it is I the Eternal Who performs new signs and wonders in the world, and that I am your God and for your sake I had so acted, for you are the Portions of the Eternal." God then brought us out and uplifted us as His people, so the other nations would see this, then the covenant with Abraham would be remembered. "And I will take you to Me for a people." Li L'am, to Me God, to be a people of Mine. God's plan was to take us for his people, then God would form us as a nation at Mt. Sinai where we would accept our nationhood, and live according to His Torah.
 
We were formed as the Jewish nation. The other "religions" that came later were formed based on the thoughts of man, whereas the nation is based on the thoughts, the divine word of God. The Torah tells us what God is supposed to be to us and the entire universe. We are to know what we as His nation are supposed to mean to Him. This is what makes the Jewish nation qualitatively unique. So, since we were formed separately by Him, created for a completely different task in life, we therefore are to live a completely different existence, even in our eternal life. Our existence is based solely on God, not religion or religious ceremonies, so to speak.
 
"And I will take you to Me" not by way of a temple, or congregation strictly as a religion, but as a nation, an "am" in itself, only as an "am" itself. The "nation" is to function according to truths, it is God's divine word only that is inherent in this "nation", which was founded and established on these truths alone. "The Torah is therefore, is a Divine document the authentic form of which must be kept and preserved with scrupulous accuracy, so that man should be able to study and assimilate the Divine thoughts contained in it." (From Horeb- Samson Raphael Hirsch.) As a result of these truths there is a recognized relationship that exists between one another who share One common God, the One and Only God Who is the true Master of His people.
 
"I will be a God to you and you will get to know that I am Hashem your God." Through service individually, as an eved Hashem, a servant of God and together as a nation, the "am" and through His commandments "you will get to know that I am Hashem your God." You will get to know the purpose of your existence, the reason you were created and the reasons I formed you as a "nation." The bond, we, as a nation, have to each other is that we share one common God, nothing else. Whether we are in gulus or in time the Messiah assists us all to return to Israel, our bond as a "nation" and as a people is realized because we serve the same God. When the Temple is rebuilt it will be to sanctify God's name only to reinforce even more our true "bondage", which is only to God. There are no other gods, no false deities, or any other possible intermediary or thing, or structure or "tower" that takes you away from God. As the Shema states: Hear, O Israel: "Hashem is our God, Hashem, the One and Only." "Sanctify yourselves and be holy" as My nation, as I "bringith you out from the burdens of Egypt." And ye shall remain holy unto Me, for I, God, Am holy and I have separated you from the nations to be Mine." (Leviticus 20:26.) "You are the first and You are the last and other than You we have no King, redeemer or savior. True, from Egypt You redeemed us, Hashem our God and from the house of slavery You liberated us." (The Shema).


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