Beit Midrash

  • Jewish Laws and Thoughts
  • Foundations of Faith
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Tzvi Yoel Ben Moshe HaLevi

9. The Unique Status of the Jewish People

The Khazar king was puzzled. Why should the Creator of the entire universe have chosen to give His law to one nation alone and not to all of humanity? What difference is there between the Jews and everybody else? Are not all of us God's handiwork?


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Cheshvan, 5762
When the Khazar king was informed by the Rabbi that the faith of Israel is founded upon God's revelation to the Forefathers, the Exodus from Egypt, and the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, he responded: "This being the case, the faith which you speak of obligates the Jews alone. Yet, why should God have revealed Himself only to the Jews? Why should He have obligated them alone to follow the Torah? Is it possible that the Creator of the universe and of all of humankind would address the Jews alone? What difference is there between you and everybody else? Are not all of us His handiwork?"

The Rabbi answered, "You have understood correctly. The Jewish people alone are obligated by the Torah and its commandments. God took us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah. All the same, a non-Jew who decides to join us becomes worthy of all of the goodness which the Creator bestowed upon us."

These words caused the king disappointment and awoke in him objection. "Why should it be so? What sense does it make for the Creator of the entire universe to give His law to one nation alone and not to all of humanity?"

The wise Rabbi asked, "Do you admit to the fact that creation is made up of various levels? There is mineral, vegetable, animal, and humankind. Humans are distinct from animals by virtue of intellectual capacity. All humans possess intellect, some more than others. What level would you say ranks above that of human beings?" To this the king replied, "I am not familiar with any higher level."

The wise Jew said, "Judaism recognizes an additional level of creation, a unique level which possesses superhuman capacities and Divine powers. We, as a people, bore witness to the existence of such a level. Tell me, please, Khazar king, if we could find a human capable of passing through fire without being burnt; of going long periods of time without food; whose face gave off such a radiant glow that the eye could not look directly at it; who never became ill or weak; who, having accomplished his life purpose, would die of his own accord at a set time, like someone lying down on his bed to go to sleep; moreover, if on top of all this he were to know things which are hidden from the rest of us: what had transpired in the past and what was to happen in the future; in what manner the act of Creation played itself out, and all of the events from Creation until his time - would you not agree that this sort of person is essentially different than other human beings? Would not this constitute an altogether new level? These are only a few of the attributes of 'the prophet whom no other prophet can contradict.' We are speaking about none other that Moses our Teacher. The entire Jewish people witnessed the existence of this unique and Divine level."

The unique level of Moses, a level affected by the Divine, mirrors the unequaled level of the entire Jewish people. This unique quality serves to explain why the Torah was given to the Jews of all people. This is what we say in our blessing over the Torah: "Who has chosen us from among all the nations and given us His Torah." Because He chose us from among all of the nations - because we are a unique nation - He gave us the Torah, to us and to no other.

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