Parshas Mishpatim 2018: Attaining the Title, “Chosen People”
What does it take to be the best at something? What brings a person or people to success?
To be the best, it obviously takes a number of attributes. It requires a special kind of desire to achieve your goal. It takes an unquenchable thirst for success and drive for perfection. To earn the title as “the best” you have to want it more than you want anything else - like an asthmatic wants air. I know a wrestling Coach who agrees that all that is very important but states emphatically, being the best requires first and foremost, "what are you willing to do for it? It's all about what you're willing to DO!"
We can say, as a unit, our people were/are “the best” of all G-d's children. We earned the spot in the world as G-d’s “chosen people”.
The Torah this week discusses Mishpatim, (logical) laws that were given to the people for the very first time. These laws are extensive, cover a broad spectrum, and have had much ink spilled in discussion and commentary on them.
Right at the end of the parsha, Hashem asks the people if they truly want to accept the yolk of the Holy Torah and in unison we responded with the immortal words: “Na’aseh V’nishmah” -We will do, and we will listen!
This famous phrase of “Na’aseh V’nishmah” is actually in the singular tense. How can this be if we know that it was the entire nation that said it?
The phrase is in the singular because it was said by each individual. Every single person in the B’nai Yisroel personally took ownership and said it with the same fervor.
This is how we earned our position as the “chosen nation”. We were at a point where everybody had an unquenchable thirst to grow spiritually closer to Hashem. When He offered them the Torah, they couldn’t accept it quickly enough.
For example: Take a small, hot, and muggy room and fill in with 20 people. Soon enough it will become extremely uncomfortable and everyone will be a hot sweaty mess. Everyone feels like they’re dying! Then someone from outside comes by and offers, “It's cool outside would you like me to open the windows for you and would you guys like some water?” Each one would say, “Yes! Please!!” Probably all at the same time.
This was our people. We were thirsty for a stronger connection to Hashem. Then along came Hashem Who redeemed us from slavery and now offered us His Holy Torah. (It doesn't get much more conducive to growth than that.)
We are taught, each and every Jewish person and all 600,000 Jewish neshamos (souls) stood at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai) and received the Torah together. That may be the source of our interconnectedness. The idea that when a Jew in the public eye does something great, we all feel proud, and G-d forbid when a Jew is in the news for something unfavorable, we all feel sick about it - this is something that seems unique to the Jewish people.
That awesome desire we once possessed, the desire to hear and learn everything Hashem expected of us even more so our willingness to DO - was the foundation of our people and therefore is still contained within us.
Let’s understand our innate nature; a desire be closer to Hashem and to know that "closeness" comes from our desire to "learn" what is expected of us in the Torah. Then to have the gratitude, love, and discipline to DO it in our everyday lives!
Have a great Shabbos!
Maverick V. Peters