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Privacy

Thursday, 13 February, 2020 - 9:08 am

There are some gifts that you wish to share with everyone. Maybe, it’s a new car or a cool gadget. Maybe it’s a membership in a club or a vacation spot.

But, then there are gifts that must remain private. Not because you are stingy or antisocial. They are private simply because it would not be beneficial to any of the parties to share the gift.

For example, an intimate moment with family would be meaningless to strangers, and may be harmful to your beloved if shared.

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When the Jewish people received the Torah, which we learn about in this week’s parsha Yitro, G-d “introduced” Himself in the opening of the Ten Commandments.

G-d declares, “I am the L‑rd your G‑d, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

Redeeming the Children of Israel from the wretched Pharaoh and Egypt is indeed a great feat. And, G-d undoubtedly is to be recognized and thanked for this. We have a festival called Pesach dedicated to celebrating and commemorating this.

However, wouldn’t it be more befitting for G-d to introduce Himself as, “I am the L‑rd your G‑d, who created Heaven and Earth?” Why doesn’t G-d promote Himself a little more?

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On Monday we will observe the yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn of righteous memory. Relatively little is known about this remarkable woman. She was married to the last century’s most famous rabbi. Yet, she was seldom spotted in public. She was perhaps the Rebbe’s only confidant, and fiercely guarded their privacy.

The Rebbetzin remarkably walked a fine line, balancing two polar goals. On the one hand, she sacrificed tremendously to gift her husband to the world. For nearly 20 hours a day, the Rebbe was with his followers and worldwide Jewry.

On the other hand, her personal relationship with the Rebbe was just that – personal and private. She was the epitome of refined sanctity; modest and firm all wrapped in one.

She understood that some gifts must remain private. Others must be shared. And, when she shared – it was virtually unlimited, to a degree relinquishing her majority stake in the Rebbe’s life.

It is no wonder that her legacy continues in the work of thousands of Shluchos, courageous and dignified leaders in their communities. These women, gathering this weekend in New York, warranty the future of Jewish life as they emulate a woman whose seemingly silent life has led to a thunderous spiritual revolution.

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This is the message of Hashem’s modest offering that He took us out of Egypt.

True, G-d is the Creator of the world. However, that is a relationship that G-d shares with all created beings. It is integral and uplifting. But, there is another dimension of relationship that is not universal.

At Sinai, G-d made a covenant with His people. G-d established the Jewish people as a Nation of Priests. G-d invested Himself in us, contracting with us to better this world. G-d depends on us.

A covenant is a deep, personal bond – one that requires strict parameters and devotion. When Hashem gave us the Torah, He was emphasizing the uniqueness of this relationship.

The Jews would be expected to export much of the wisdom and share it with others. In essence, however, the bond would be truly private and intense.

That’s why G-d defined Himself in His opening remarks as the G-d that took us out of Egypt.

Perhaps creation of the world is greater. But, the Exodus from Egypt demonstrated a personal bond, a private and intimate relationship.

As we revisit this formative event of Revelation at Sinai, let us recommit to the dual ideals of sharing the Torah beliefs with the world around us and of upholding the personal contract with G-d that each and every Jews possesses.

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