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Vaeschanan -Look Out People are Watching You

07/20/12 16:18:15


Three times in this week's parsha, Parsha Vaeschanan, the Torah uses the term 'Goy Gadol' - a great nation - to describe the Jewish people. The mission of the other nations of the world is to see the greatness of Am Yisrael. In Devarim 4, 6-8 the Torah states Ushmartem Va'asisem ki hee chochmaschem u'binaschem l'einei ha'amim asher yishmune eis kal hachukim haEileh v'amru rak am chacham v'navon Hagoy Hagadol hazeh. Ki mee goy gadol asher lo elokim krovim eilav.... Umi goy Gadol asher lo chukim umishpatim tzadikim kchal Hatorah Hazos..." "You shall safeguard and perform them, for it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples who shall hear all these statutes and who shall say, "Surely a wise and understanding people is this Great Nation!" For we are indeed a great nation which has a God Who is close to it, as is Hashem, our God, whenever we call to Him. And we are a Great Nation that has righteous statutes and ordinances."

Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch says that Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, have many purposes in life, one of which is to spread the word of Hashem to all the nations of the world. The Jewish People are the prototype of what a human being is supposed to be. A Jew is supposed to be a role model, one who teaches by example. The other non-Jews will come to recognize the behavior of the Jews and in due time will emulate us. The nations of the world will eventually learn and take on the proper middos from their Jewish counterparts.

In Moshe's song of Haazinu, we are reminded us that we will be a nation who will dwell by ourselves and not consider the other nations. This praise from Moshe is a lesson that we will be influential over the nations of the world but should not be influenced by them. The verse states "Hein Am L'vadad Yishkon, U'vagoyim Lo Yischashav" - this nation will dwell by themselves. Rav Hirsch explains that even when the Jews are in the diaspora amongst the other nations, they will be separate and will not copy their ways. We will not make our calculations and decisions based upon them. Rather all decisions will be made only through the Torah. Despite the fact that we will keep apart from them, the other nations will nevertheless learn from us.

There are three parameters necessary for non-Jews to learn from Jews. If one looks at the three times the words 'A Great Nation' is mentioned, there is a description of how the Jews are expected to behave. First , the Jewish people must act in a wise and insightful manner. Second, the Jewish People must remain close to Hashem, and lastly, they must have righteous laws and statutes. Two out of the three happen to be listed in the seven Noachide laws. The last one, which focuses on righteousness, refers to the observance of all seven of the Noachide laws. Rav Hirsch concludes by stating, "It is conditional as to whether or not the nations of the world will learn from the Jews. If WE, the Jewish People, live up to the ideas that make us a Great Nation, then they will surely want to learn from us.

This past week the world over experienced one of the greatest events in recent history, the Siyum Hashas. Jews worldwide celebrated together - K'ish echad B'lev echad - like one person with with one heart. The seven and a half year journey through the sea of Talmud culminated on August 1st. With celebrations taking place all over the world, all eyes and ears were focused on MetLife Arena in New Jersey where almost 100,000 Jews from all walks of life came to give honor to the Torah. With immense challenges to overcome, the event went off beautifully as tens of thousands of Jews around the globe connected via satellite. The joy and enthusiasm this event has placed upon Am Yisrael was of a proportion beyond any we have experienced in our lifetimes. It is reminiscent of the second to last Mitzvah of the Torah known as Hakhel where men, women and children came to the Beis Hamikdash after the festival of Sukkos. Every person came away with something different but deeply meaningful from this occasion.

One of the glaring results of this affair was the impact it had on the non-Jews who were involved in planning and executing this incredible undertaking. A great Kiddush Hashem was made and seen by the staff and management of the stadium to the security details including all levels of law enforcement. Reports and comments were made by everyone who was involved as to how smooth, dignified, organized and appropriate this event was.

The stage of an American football stadium is usually reserved for behavior which is less than dignified. With gladiators battling and the fans cheering obscenities, the venue is not a makom Torah. We, the Jewish People, are here to elevate the status of everything in this world. News reports on television and the Internet reported how thousands of Jews world -wide celebrated the conclusion of the entire Shas through the Daf Yomi program, learning one page a day, the same Daf, together, day after day until finally completing the full cycle after seven and a half years. This was a powerful and magnificent celebration of literally the entire Jewish People being on "the same page". Many speakers remarked how this event took place only a few days after Tisha B'Av; a day that separated Klal Yisroel was now here to unite us all. It is the Chashivus, the importance and relevance of Torah that keeps us all connected. This was undoubtedly something that the gentile world could learn from us. We are far from perfect but we all had a great merit to be a part of this and witness the power and influence we can have over the world.

Ah Gut Shabbos Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky
Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780