July 25, 2005

Walking Humbly With Our God

Excellent article written by Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

If we, the People of Israel, were given the unifying truth of the Torah, then why do we not try to persuade the peoples of the earth to accept the Torah? As an Evangelical Christian once asked me: "If your People indeed have the truth, then why don't you actively missionize like we do?"

The beginning of the answer to these questions can be found in a teaching of the prophet Micah regarding the underlying principles of the path given to us by the Unifying One: "What does HaShem require of you but to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

It is not enough to follow a path of justice and love; one must also walk on that path with humility. It is a principle that can apply to both an individual and a people. If we, the People of Israel, have something to offer humanity, then the most humble way to make that contribution is not through preaching to others, but through the power of our own example. In this spirit, the Compassionate One proclaimed to us at Mount Sinai: "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation." (Shemot/Exodus 19:6)

What does it mean to be a "kingdom of kohanim"? The root meaning of the word "kohen" is "to serve". For example, this word appears as a verb in a divine command that was conveyed to Moses: "They shall make vestments of sanctity for Aaron your brother and his sons, le-kahan li [to serve Me]." (Shemot/Exodus 28:4) A kohen is, therefore, a person who dedicates every aspect of life to the service of the Compassionate One. In this way, people will view him as a messenger of the Compassionate One and they will be attracted to his teachings.

This idea is expressed in the following statement of the prophet Malachi: "For the lips of the kohen should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek Torah from his mouth; for he is a messenger of HaShem, God of all the hosts of creation." (Malachi 2:7) Just as people will seek Torah from the mouth of the kohen who serves as a living example of the divine teaching, so too, the nations of the world will seek Torah from the "kingdom of kohanim", when they see that this society has become a living example of the divine teaching. The People of Israel must, therefore, strive to become a "light to the nations". (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 42:6) When they achieve this goal, they will merit the fulfillment of the Divine promise that "nations will walk to your light, and sovereigns to the glow of your dawn." (Yesheyhau/Isaiah 60:3)


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