The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.
The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
Asked to make a list of the men who have most dominated the thinking of the modern world, many educated people would name Freud, Einstein, Marx and Darwin. Of these four, only Darwin was not Jewish. In a world where Jews are only a tiny percentage of the population, what is the secret of the disproportionate importance the Jews have had in the history of Western culture?”
Ernest van den Haag
“What is the Jew?…What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew – is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”
– Leo Tolstoy
The world is a path and humanity it’s traveler.
The Jewish people are a compass.
A compasse’s needle always points North just as my Siddur always faces the Holy Land.
When I am in the diaspora, I daven in the direction of Israel.
When I am in Israel, I daven in the direction of Jerusalem.
When I am in Jerusalem, I daven in the direction of the Western Wall.
What does it mean to be a light unto other nations?
When, like the terrain on a long hike, the world shifts and vices become virtues and values change with government currents and influxes of propaganda, the Jewish people are the world’s compass, always facing north when everything else tells humanity to go another way.
Time has the tendency to normalize hatred and leave us in a culture of fear and a fork in the road of progress can lead to a genocide or a dictatorship quicker than a fashion trend can change from faux pas to in.
Judaism recognizes the need for a constant in an ever changing world. While everything else goes from livable to destructive, Judaism keeps it’s needle pointed north. Without the Jewish people, the world would never return from wandering into the wilderness. Wearing a Kippah is a recognition of this responsibility. The circular cap should not only remind someone of his connection to G-d, but also of his role as the compass of a traveler that tends off the path.
So what does it mean to be the chosen people? It means having a responsibility. It means that while political ideas and trends may change, the values that Judaism teaches will not. It means that what should remain constant within humanity and within the values taught in the Torah is the vital connection between man, those around him, and G-d. It means that we are not only eternal, but necessary. Great nations fall and crumble but the compass is never destroyed by the passage of time. Am Yisrael Chai.