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Beshalah/Yitro

The ‘Wow Factor’ and God’s World Plan

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The Zohar on Parshat Yitro states that when one declares, as Yitro did, "And now we know that God is greater than all the other gods..." the name of God is honored and elevated. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains (Likutei Moharan Lesson 10) that the main revelation of God's greatness occurs when even idolaters come to realize that there is one God who governs and rules everything. When someone distant from God comes closer to the service of God, it creates a 'wow factor' that impresses us greatly. God's status is not only elevated in the eyes of the idolater but also in the eyes of the believer. The believer is both impressed, inspired and strengthened by the journey of the ex-idolater towards God.

I would suggest that one of the reasons the Torah teaches us about Yitro’s journey towards a recognition of the one, omnipresent, and omnipotent God is because ultimately this is God’s master plan for all humanity. We accept the yolk of heaven by reciting “Hear Israel, Hashem who is our God, Hashem is one.” Rashi interprets this verse as follows: Understand Israel that the one God whom you recognize will ultimately be recognized by all humanity. We conclude every prayer service with the messianic prophecy of Zechariah “And God will be king over all the world, on that day God will be one and His name will be one.” Our sages explain this to mean that while God is one, not all humanity recognize God. In the messianic age, all humanity will recognize God’s unity and return to Him.

We, the Jewish people are to be the catalyst in this process. Our role is to live exemplary, ethical lives in accordance with the dictates of the Torah and thereby be a light unto all the nations of the world. This role is both a great privilege and a tremendous responsibility. Let us assume this challenge and pray for a time when we are all elevated and inspired by the most distant people returning to the one and only God.

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779