Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5 - 43:10
For the week of October 17, 1998
27 Tishri 5759
Being a Light
When God called Abraham, he said to him, "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Bereshit / Genesis 12:3). The purpose of God's choosing Abraham and the nation which came through him, Israel, was so that blessing would come to all peoples. This promise is expressed in our passage by saying that this one whom God is addressing would be a light to the nations (which is what "Gentiles" usually means: other nations besides Israel).
Isaiah chapters 40 through 66 speak of someone called "The Servant of the Lord." At times the Servant seems to be the nation of Israel and other times the Messiah. My understanding is that the Messiah is the fulfillment of all that God intended Israel to be. That is why the distinction at times gets fuzzy.
Whomever is being referred to, his influence extends beyond the one nation, Israel, to the other nations of the world.
This ties in so well with the original promise to Abraham. Israel's purpose was to be a blessing to others.
We do not exist for ourselves. So many of us strive to make it in this life. For some "making it" is survival, for others it is getting to the top of the heap. But living unto ourselves is not the kind of life we were intended to live.
This week's Torah portion is the first few chapters of Genesis, which speak of God as Creator - Creator of the universe and specifically of human beings. He who created us intended that we should be a blessing to others. He calls us to make a difference in the lives of others. The Messiah, who is our example, expressed this so well when he said, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39).
What is true for individuals is true for entire nations. Peoples and nations would also do well to seek their fulfillment through the serving of others rather than their own preservation.
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