Ambassadors of Light
“Hear Israel, our father, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”.
It is considered by some to be the most text in the Torah. The words certainly encapsulate the monotheistic faith of our people. Millions of people throughout the centuries have recited these words to express their allegiance to God and his people, despite sometimes facing threats of annihilation.
This prayer's origin is recounted in the Talmud. It was uttered by the brothers to their father Jacob as they gathered around his bedside before his passing.
“Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said that it is written:“ And Jacob called his sons and said, Gather around and I will tell you what will occur to you at the end of days” (Genesis 49:1). Jacob wanted to reveal to his sons when the complete redemption would arrive at the end of days (see Daniel 12:13), but the Divine Presence abandoned him, rendering him unable to prophesy.
He said: Perhaps the Divine Presence has abandoned me because, Heaven forfend, one of my descendants is unfit, as was the case with my grandfather Abraham, from whom Ishmael emerged, and like my father Isaac, from whom Esau emerged. His sons said to him: Hear Israel, our father, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. They said: Just as there is only one God in your heart, so too, there is only one in our hearts.”
The foremost, biblical commentator, Rashi, explains the text as follows: “The Lord who is now our G-d and not the G-d of the other peoples of the world, He will at some future time be the One (sole) ה׳, as it is said, (Zephaniah 3:9)“ For then I will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord".
This explanation is truly insightful in that it captures both the core of our identity as a people and our purpose.
When God chose the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, he empowered them to fulfill the mission and purpose for which he created the world.
This vision is best captured in the meaning of the prayer that Jewish people have recited daily for thousands of years.
“The Lord who is now our G-d and not the G-d of the other peoples of the world, He will at some future time be the One (sole) ה׳”
As partners in realizing G-d's vision for this world, we carry the responsibility to be ambassadors of light to all the nations of the world until such time as the words of the prophets will be fulfilled.
“For then I will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord".