The Choicest Choice

October 16, 2016 at 10:18 AM ,

“…G-d came from sinai, he shone forth to them from seir, he appeared from mount paran; he came with some of the holy myriads; from his right hand was a fiery law for them…” – devarim 33:2

ה’ מִסִּינַי בָּא וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ מִימִינוֹ אֵשׁ דָּת לָמוֹ – דברים לג, ב

The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 2b) remarks: “What did G-d seek in Seir, and what did He seek in Mount Paran? Said R’ Yochanan: This teaches us that G-d offered the Torah to every nation and every tongue, but none accepted it, until He came to the Jewish people who accepted it.”

Why did G-d offer the Torah to the gentile nations, knowing as He does, that they would not accept it? The Midrash (Mechilta, Yisro 5) says that this eliminated any later possible claims that the nations would have accepted and observed the Torah if they had been given a chance.

Alternatively, by offering the Torah to others, G-d revealed the extent of His choice in the Jewish people as His nation, (a central theme in the Giving of the Torah, see Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim 60:4).

The Choicest Choice

To select an item for its merits is not free choice; it is a logical imperative. True “free” choice is to select between options that seem otherwise equal, but to choose one of them solely because you are drawn toward that particular option. It follows then that the Jewish people’s distinction as G-d’s chosen people (see Devarim 14:2, et al,) means that G-d’s attachment to the Jew runs deeper than reason. It stems from a place where virtues or qualities are insignificant, where those who choose to accept the Torah are equal to those who refuse it.

This idea is expressed in the words of the prophet Malachi (1:2-3), “’Was not Eisav a brother to Yaacov?’ says G-d. ‘Yet I loved Yaacov, and I hated Eisav.’” Meaning, even where Eisav and Yaacov are brothers—equally good options, G-d still chooses Yaacov, the Jewish people.

Accordingly, we can understand why G-d offered the Torah to all the nations before offering—in fact, compelling (see Talmud, Shabbos 88a)—the Jewish people to accept it. By leveling the playing field, as it were, between the Jews and the other nations, G-d revealed that His desire in the Jewish people as His nation is rooted in His essence; He prefers the Jewish people even where anyone else is an equally valid option.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 4, pp. 1308-1309

 

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