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Yitro: Do You Think You Are Special?

Do you think that you are special? Is it synonymous with feeling superior to others? Do you feel less special if someone else also claims to be special? Has anyone ever told you that you are special? Do you believe them? Are the Jewish people special? If so, in whose eyes? What about others nations? This question has troubled Jews for millennia. Is this the reason behind antisemitism? To shed some light on the above we must first understand what the word “special” means. Interestingly we can find some guidance on this in this week’s Torah portion. In preparing the Jewish people for the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, G-d asks Moses to convey to them the following message: “You will be a precious treasure to me among all the peoples”. However this sentence is preceded by the words “If you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant”. In other words G-d designating the Jewish people as “special” comes as a consequence of a unique responsibility with which he has endowed them. It is not an award to be exploited for personal gain. It is not a status symbol by which one feels superior to others. On the contrary “special” is a serious responsibility with which G-d has charged the Jewish people. To be a light unto the nations. To provide the moral compass in a confused world. To demonstrate conviction and courage when and where people are afraid to lead. We the Jewish people have no choice but to feel “special” and to behave accordingly. To discharge our responsibility. The world expects no less.  

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