This week’s Torah portion begins the book of Exodus (Shemot)
The book of Genesis details the beginnings of the Family of Israel.
In Exodus, we will be forged into the Nation of Israel, after passing through the iron furnace of Egyptian slavery.
At the “burning bush” the Almighty reaches out to Moshe and explains to him how he will be the one to stand up to Pharaoh and lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt…receive the Torah at Horeb (Mount Sinai) and then bring them to the promised Land of Israel to become a Nation.
But it is not to be just any nation… it is to be the “firstborn” of Nations.
When Pharaoh Refuses…
God tells Moshe, that when he returns to Egypt and performs all the signs and wonders in front of Pharaoh, God will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he won’t release the People of Israel (Ex. 4:21).
When that happens, God instructs Moshe…
“And you will say to Pharaoh, ‘thus says HaShem, “My son, My Firstborn is Israel”‘ :
… Send My Son, that he may serve Me, but since you have refused to send him, behold I will kill your son, your firstborn!
What does it mean to be a “Firstborn?”
We learned that Jacob bought the “Firstborn” rights from his brother Esau (and the blessings that went along with it). At this point it seems that God is not only ratifying that Jacob is officially Isaac’s firstborn, but Jacob, as Israel is actually God’s Firstborn!
The firstborn son is assumed to take on the responsibility for leading the family (becoming King) when the father passes away. What does it mean to be the Almighty’s Firstborn when God is Eternal?
The Firstborn is actually an intermediary between the Father and the younger siblings. The firstborn explains to the younger siblings, in language they can understand, what the Father has communicated to the Firstborn son about how to live life.
Israel as Firstborn
As firstborn, Israel is to be a Kingdom of Priests (Ex.19:6), serving their “Father” in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Secondly, it is our obligation as firstborn to teach the Nations of the World (the younger siblings) what God has revealed to us in His Torah that applies to the Nations in language they can understand.
The sooner both Israel and the Nations understand this symbiotic relationship between us, the sooner we will be on our way to world peace.
With blessings from the Galilee!
Rabbi Shmuel Veffer