Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Sivan: An Introduction to Paragraph Five
“And now, if you hearken well to Me and observe My covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples, for Mine is the entire world.” “If you accept the Covenant now, I will be your guarantor, because all beginnings are difficult (Rashi). How did the Sages derive this idea of God as guarantor of Israel from the word, “and now”? This single moment offered Israel something unique, something which they had yet to understand, something with demands that were still forthcoming, something vague but filled with promise. They had no way of knowing what was being offered and whether they were capable of achieving the potential, whether they were equipped to live up to the demands and the promise. The only thing they knew was God. The only thing that could be offered at “this moment” was God, and therefore, if He was inviting them to enter this Covenant, He had to offer them a guarantee of success.
“If you actively hear My voice.” If they would trust enough in God as guarantor, they would achieve something greater than anyone since the Garden of Eden. Even after the sin, Adam could hear the “Voice of God, the Lord, walking in the Garden (Genesis 3:8).” Had Adam acknowledged that he could still hear the Voice of God, and not been so ashamed that he could not catch the experience, the world would have been a very different place. Adam passively heard the Voice of God; Israel was offered the same opportunity, only if they would actively listen for God’s voice and actively hear it when it spoke.
So far God has said, “If you trust Me enough to serve as your guarantor, and you accept that you will have to actively listen for, and then actively hear, My Voice…” God now adds, “and guard My Covenant.” My Covenant, not The Covenant. Not Our Covenant, but Mine. We guard what is precious. We guard, meaning, we hold onto and wait, as when the verse describes Jacob’s response to Joseph’s greatest dream as, “And his father guarded the matter (Genesis 37:11).” Joseph’s dream was precious enough to Jacob for him to hold onto his son’s dream and await it’s fulfillment. He ceased to guard the dream when he believed that Joseph was dead. God is asking Israel to guard the Covenant as something so precious that they will not let go, even under circumstances similar to Joseph’s disappearance.
Why does the verse stress, “My covenant”? God is asking them to guard as precious God’s commitment to them.
“For then you shall be My own treasure among all the nations.” If you will guard as precious My commitment to you, I will guard you as My most valued treasure among all other nations.
“For the entire earth is Mine.” I created all. You will be the expression of the purpose of creation.
The moment, active listening for, and actively hearing My Voice, guarding My commitment to you as a priceless possession, and I will make you the people through whom the purpose of creation will be realized. These ideas shape the way we sing the fifth paragraph of Hallel for Rosh Chodesh Sivan.