120 Words Rosh HaShana, Becoming a Nation Means More Than Waving a Flag

When did the complaints of the Jews cause Moshe Rabbenu great pleasure?

When Moshe Rabbenu offered them a back-hander. “Until today,” he told the People, “Gd did not grant you the gift of understanding what it is that He has done for you.” [29:3] but today that maturity has emerged.

And what was it that happened on that day?

Rashi explains that Moshe presented a Sefer Torah to the tribe of Levi, his own tribe. This incensed the other tribes. They challenged Moshe Rabbenu, “We too stood at Mount Sinai and we too were presented with and we too accepted the Torah. Why should the tribe of Levi be singled out? Who knows what might happen? Sometime in the future they may tell us that we are not entitled to interpret and explain the Torah.”

Moshe Rabbenu responded by pronouncing that this is the day they can claim the maturity of becoming a Nation. No longer are they simply a family that has multiplied into an extremely large clan; they have become a Nation.

What prompted this realisation? What would we look for, what would we consider to be a deciding factor in this crucial transition?

The signal of a true nation is that each individual takes responsibility for their relationship with Gd. A Nation is not a cult, it is not a bunch of zombies mindlessly parroting the sounds and aping the actions of their leaders. A Nation is an assembly of individuals who all differ and yet testify by their life and the manner in which they live their life, that they are devoted to a common principle. Each charters their unique path and style, just as Gd arranged that each of us be unique in our fingerprints, DNA and manner of thinking.