Parshas Kedoshim (5771)
The Royal Wedding …. the one that everyone’s been talking about. Hundreds of thousands of people all around the world have waited with eager anticipation and great excitement, counting down the days until this momentous event in history … and it’s all going to happen on June 8th.
That’s right … Jews all around the world have been eagerly counting down the forty-nine days of the Omer period until June 8th – the Jewish holiday of Shavuos (“The Festival of Weeks”) – when we celebrate the “Royal Wedding” that took place 3323 years ago in the Sinai Desert where the “Matchmaker” (Moses) led the “Bride” (the Jewish people) to the “Bridegroom” (G-d, the King of all Kings) under the Chuppah (Mount Sinai) with the Torah that we received as the Kesubah (marriage contract).
As King Solomon writes in the Song of Songs (3:11): “Go forth and gaze, O daughters distinguished by loyalty to G-d, upon the King to Whom peace belongs adorned with the crown His nation made for Him on His wedding day and on the day of His heart’s bliss”. And the Talmud in Taanis 26b interprets this verse as follows: “on His wedding day” – this refers to the day of the Giving of the Torah [on Shavuos]; “on the day of His heart’s bliss” – this refers to the building of the Temple. Indeed, the Sages of the Talmud write in many places that “Kol Yisroel B’nei Melachim Heim - all Jews are princes” (see, for example, Shabbos 67a). So it turns out that the uniting of G-d and the Jewish people under the Chuppah at Mount Sinai truly was a “royal wedding” from both sides.
Now this isn’t just some cute connection between the upcoming holiday of Shavuos and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I believe there is a great lesson that we Jews can learn from all the fuss that everybody is making over William and Kate’s royal nuptials.
You see, the life of a prince is quite different than that of an ordinary commoner. Every action the prince does has great significance because of his royal status. Everyone looks up to him with awe and admiration – following his every move – whether he has earned that awe or not.
As we see with the royal wedding, every detail of the bride’s and groom’s wedding wardrobes is being discussed. Even the exact size and shape of the royal wedding cake is being talked about at great length. This would never happen to mere common folk.
Now granted that most of us could care less about the color or fabric of Kate’s gown or whether or not Prince William will be wearing a sword to go with his Irish military uniform. But the reality is that for many people, these details do matter only because they involve royalty – and the royals are somehow more special and significant.
We, the Jewish people, are royalty. We became royalty when G-d chose us as His bride (knowing that we came from ‘good stock’, i.e. from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) and stood together with us under Mount Sinai and gave us His beloved Torah. From that point on, whether we like it or not, all our actions have become significant.
And just like with Prince William and Kate Middleton, whose every move – be it a royal gesture of kindness or a royal screw-up – is scrutinized and discussed in great detail by the world media, so, too, with the Jewish people.
If we act as we should and fulfill G-d’s commandments, thereby setting a proper, moral example for the world to follow – as befitting true royalty – then, as the Torah tells us: “… all the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of G-d is proclaimed over you, and they will revere you” (Deuteronomy 28:10).
But if, G-d forbid, we forget our role as Jews and act inappropriately, neglecting the Torah and its commandments and setting a poor example for the nations of the world, then we will have forfeited our royal status and will become the subject of the world’s scorn and derision, as the Torah warns us: “You will be a source of astonishment, a parable, and a conversation piece, among all the peoples where G-d will lead you” (ibid. 28:37).
This year, as we once again count down the days until our “Royal Wedding” on Shavuos, let us remember that as B’nai Melochim, Jewish princes, we have both a royal privilege and a royal responsibility to live up to our elevated status and set a good, moral example for everyone to follow – and that the world is watching our every move.