The good news is that I was teaching Talmud (using the Steinsaltz Edition) to a group of about 63 senior adults for the past 6 days at a camp in the Poconos in Pennsylavia.
The bad news is that the entire computer system at the camp was down, resulting in my not being able to post any messages.
It’s good to be back….
Rabbi Steinsaltz, in his book We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do? writes:
The basic meaning of “a special people” is in fact “a unique people.”
This uniqueness, the placing of a certain group of people in a role, in a place, in some form of commitment, has an effect on this group, as it affects the individual who attains any level of uniqueness.
It implies various aspects of elevation, and even of pride in the special role, in the special status.
But this uniqueness has another facet, no less significant, which is expressed in the sharpest manner by the Prophet Amos (3:2): “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The status of being chosen is not only a matter of rights or of a higher standing, but also of duties associated with this special status, which derive from it and perhaps even precede it.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Excerpted from We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (Jossey-Bass, 2005), Chapter IX.