Beit Midrash

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

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Yaakov Ben Behora

38. “Israel, Through Whom I Will Be glorified”

Israel was created with the purpose of proclaiming God's praise in the world: “I have fashioned this nation for Myself, they will relate my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). And we relate God's praise through a life of sanctity, through Torah and commandments.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Israel proclaims God's praise in the world. This is the essence of our being: "I have fashioned this nation for Myself, they will relate my praise" (Isaiah 43:21). We achieve this task more so through our very way of life than through convincing argument or explanation. We relate God's praise through a life of Torah and commandments, religious living. And the Almighty is glorified through us, as it is written, "You are my servant, O Israel, through whom I will be glorified" (Isaiah 49:3).

When the Khazar king heard this explanation from the Rabbi, he was surprised. He responded, saying, "How is it possible that the Almighty, Who is Himself above all blessing and glory, could by glorified through man? Is this not something of an exaggeration?"

The Rabbi explained, "If we were to say that the Almighty is glorified through the sun, would this be acceptable to you?"

"Certainly," said the king, "there is no room for comparison. The existence of the earth depends upon the sun."

"Yet is the Divine spiritual light any less significant than the sun's visible light?" continued the Rabbi. "Just as God illuminates and sustains the word via the sun, so does He use Israel to reveal the spiritual, Divine light in the world. Before the appearance of Israel upon the stage of history, men were confused and distraught, searching aimlessly like blind people in an attempt to understand the meaning of the existance, as well as their origin and purpose. Some erred by practicing idolatry, while others erred through heretical denial, and no one was able to uncover the reason for the creation of the universe.

"This state persisted until Israel appeared, ascended, and became worthy of the Divine light," continued the Rabbi. "Miracles and wonders were performed on their behalf, and from that time onward it has been clear that the world has a Judge and Overseer. Hence, it is God's Divine Providence over Israel that has caused Him to become known to the world. Through Israel, humanity has come to recognize God, the sole Creator of the world. Through them the world has learned to discard idolatry and to eschew attributing any physicality to God.

"To this very day most of the world's population acknowledges the fact of creation and the existence of an all-powerful God, and all of this is due to Israel. If, then, we can accept God's being glorified through the creation of the sun, how much more so with regard to the Divine light in the world."

The Rabbi continued, explaining that this idea is reflected in the words of King David: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day utters speech, and night to night expresses knowledge" (Psalms 19:2-3). The heavens declare the glory of God by their very existence, "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things" (Isaiah 40:26). They "declare," without saying a word, "There is no speech nor are there any words; their voice is not heard" (Psalms 19:4). The sun too declares God's glory, for it "comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man when he runs a race" (ibid. 6).

The heavens' and sun's declaration of God's glory is indeed great, fantastic, yet there is something even greater, there is a declaration which is immeasurably greater - the declaration made by the Torah. King David continues, "The Torah of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (ibid. 8). And who is it that gives voice to the Torah in the world? The nation of Israel! Were it not for Israel, there would be no Torah in the world.

The preeminence of Israel is not derived from Moses. To the contrary, Moses' greatness was due to Israel. First God revealed his predilection for the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, as a result, He chose Moses as the channel through which His goodness would be bestowed upon Israel. The nation of Israel is not referred to as "the nation of Moses"; Israel is called "the nation of God," and "the nation of the God of Abraham." Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Scripture states, "Israel, through whom I will be glorified."

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