I Hashem, in My grace, have summoned you, and I have grasped you by the hand. I created you, and appointed you a covenant people, a light of nations
Isaiah 42:6 (The Israel Bible™)
אֲנִי יְהֹוָה קְרָאתִיךָ בְצֶדֶק וְאַחְזֵק בְּיָדֶךָ וְאֶצָּרְךָ וְאֶתֶּנְךָ לִבְרִית עָם לְאוֹר גּוֹיִם
Hear the verse in Hebrew
Ani Adonai k’raticha v’tzedek v’achzak beyadecha v’etzorcha
v’etencha livrit am l’ohr goyim
A Light of Nations
This famous phrase captures the mission statement of the People of Israel. For most of Jewish history, the role of “light unto the nations” has been understood primarily as a private call to have a positive influence on the world by living an ethical life and setting a personal example of righteous behaviour.
However, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) is calling for so much more. The “light” in his stirring description is capable of opening the eyes of the blind and leading the imprisoned out of darkness. The establishment of the State of Israel and its role on the international stage calls for a transformation of the “light unto the nations” metaphor from a passive, individual candle, to a powerful blaze, firing up the nations and igniting the world with righteousness.
The Jewish people indeed have a high calling.