To Choose A Nation…And to live with that choice – Va’era 5777
To Choose A Nation
And to live with that choice
What came first, the chicken or the egg?
According to Jewish thought it was definitely the chicken; for everything was created in a complete form. Adam wasn’t created as an embryo, or indeed a twinkle in his father’s eye, but was rather a fully formed adult. Diamonds which take billions of years to form, were already inbuilt into the lava of the earth. Stars which are light years away from our planet, were immediately visible to Adam.
Thus it was definitely the chicken which came first. But, what came first in our relationship with Hashem; us being His people or Him being our G-d?
Incidentally, the Talmud poses a similar question about who is to return first; us to Hashem in Teshuvah or Him to us in redemption?
However, in Hashem’s discussion with Moshe at the start of this week’s Sedra, He seems to imply, twice over, that He comes first: “I will take you for Me as a Nation, and act as a G-d for you”, only after that does the verse continue: “you will recognize that it is I your G-d who is freeing you.” (Va’era 6:7)
Hashem takes the obligation towards us before we accept His Kingship over us!
That Talmud also takes that view, and rules (in an ingenious Talmudical argument – for another time) that the Almighty is obligated to return to us even before we return to Him!
It isn’t though all a one-way street. The verse continues; “and you will know that I am Hashem who is taking you out of Egypt.”
We have an obligation to know Hashem.
We struggle to know what came first, the chicken or the egg, but we are commanded to know Hashem! And knowing doesn’t just mean to be aware of, it requires us to know. To inquire and ascertain the truth, to delve into the questions of life and come to a conclusion.
But it doesn’t even stop there, for that knowledge isn’t just of a time gone by, it’s not just to be aware that once-upon-a-time this G-d took us out of Egypt. But rather He demands of us to know that He is taking us now, in the present tense not in the distant past!
I don’t know about you, but at times I find that hard. It’s not always easy. But there again, no one said it was supposed to be or was going to be. However I do take courage from the fact that we have been doing this for so long, that no matter what the world (and G-d) has thrown at us, we have still continued. Maybe it’s because He chose us first, maybe it’s because we have nowhere else to turn, or maybe because it’s just the truth; but as the world prepares to stand still and commemorate the International Holocaust Memorial Day, I take courage from our tenacity and also from G-d’s promise to constantly free us and also from His commitment to adopt us as His nation.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,