Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ki Tavo: It's Not So Odd

There is a famous poem by Ogden Nash:
How odd of God / To choose the Jews1.
It wasn't odd /The Jews chose God2.
Perhaps we can use this as a good summary of the message of the following section in parshat Ki Tavo, where we are to be the am segulah:
{Devarim 26:16}:
טז הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מְצַוְּךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה--וְאֶת-הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים; וְשָׁמַרְתָּ וְעָשִׂיתָ אוֹתָם, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשֶׁךָ. 16 This day the LORD thy God commandeth thee to do these statutes and ordinances; thou shalt therefore observe and do them with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.
יז אֶת-ה הֶאֱמַרְתָּ, הַיּוֹם: לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים וְלָלֶכֶת בִּדְרָכָיו, וְלִשְׁמֹר חֻקָּיו וּמִצְו‍ֹתָיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו--וְלִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ. 17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and that thou wouldest walk in His ways, and keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His ordinances, and hearken unto His voice.
יח וַה הֶאֱמִירְךָ הַיּוֹם, לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְעַם סְגֻלָּה, כַּאֲשֶׁר, דִּבֶּר-לָךְ; וְלִשְׁמֹר, כָּל-מִצְו‍ֹתָיו. 18 And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be His own treasure, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments;
יט וּלְתִתְּךָ עֶלְיוֹן, עַל כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, לִתְהִלָּה, וּלְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאָרֶת; וְלִהְיֹתְךָ עַם-קָדֹשׁ לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר. {פ} 19 and to make thee high above all nations that He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in glory; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the LORD thy God, as He hath spoken. {P}
We may easily read this as a reciprocal relationship -- we choose Hashem as our God, and so Hashem chooses us as his nation. Our tefillin have "Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad," and Hashem's tefillin have "Mi KeAmcha Yisrael Goy Echad BaAretz."

We might also read it as automatic. What makes us the am segulah, the chosen treasured people? The fact that we have chosen to follow God and adopt his holy, ethical laws makes us by definition "high above all nations that He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in glory; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the LORD thy God, as He hath spoken."
______________________

1 William Norman Ewer
2 Ogden Nash's reply

2 comments:

Miky Schreiber said...

The Rabbi Kuk talked a lot about this subject. He said that it is important to remember what the Maharal said: The "Contract" is not two-sided, because if it was that way - one side (we) can breach it. the lord chose us to be Am Segula, so no matter what we do, we can't never escape it.

David Griffin said...

It would appear that you were pretty good with Hebrew, would it be to much trouble to ask you to translate this phrase for me?

לְעַם סְגֻלָּה

You can email me at dwg06d@acu.edu
thank you for you help!!

Peace,
David Griffin

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin