A Treasured People
Shemot 19:5 Ve'atah im shamo'a tishm'u bekoli ushemartem et beriti vihyitem li segulah mikol ha'amim ki li kol ha-aretz
And now, if you hearken well to Me and observe My covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure [segulah] of all peoples, for Mine is the entire world.
Am Segulah, undoubtedly, the most important event in the history of the world was the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai, nor has the world ever witnessed an event which made a greater impact or that had further reaching consequences. Indeed, it was the only occasion in history that HaShem presented Himself to any nation or communicated with them directly. Consider also, the tremendous build-up to Matan-Torah, played out against a background of pomp and ceremony so awesome that it almost defies the imagination; the gradually increasing tone of the Shofar, the thick clouds covering Har Sinai, continual thunder and lightning (although there was no rain), the three day separation of the men from their wives, the fencing off of Har Sinai and the mounting excitement as Moshe Rabeinu ascended the Mountain daily, carrying Divine instructions to the people and their replies to HaShem. The Torah can hardly be describing the impending enactment of anything other than a world-shattering event of unique proportions.
Ma'amad Har Sinai deeply affected not only Klal Yisroel, but also all the world's nations. The accompanying thunder and lightning (like the crossing of the Reed-Sea that had only recently taken place), were experienced throughout the world. Indeed the Medrash relates, and when the various nations, fearing another flood, sent delegates to the renowned statesman and leader, Bil'om, asking him for advice, he replied simply: "Hashem is giving strength (Torah) to His people", whereupon they proclaimed: "Hashem should bless His people with peace". Yet Ma'amad Har Sinai went much further than just to create a profound momentary impact on the people of the time. It changed drastically the future destiny of Klal Yisrael as the "Am Segulah" (Hashem's treasured nation) and by virtue of the other nations' reaction to that choice and of the subsequent new triple relationship - Hashem, Yisroel and Torah - the destiny of the other nations was irrevocably changed too.
For the first time in history, a nation forged direct links with the Creator of the world, who provided them with a strong means of communication with Him through prophecy and through prayer. For the first time the concept of Divine Supervision (Hashgochoh Klolis) over a whole nation was introduced. This in turn, was triggered off by the presentation of a Divine constitution, and was governed by its implementation on the part of Klal Yisroel themselves.
And this direct communication, made possible by introducing two new functional institutions - prophecy and Torah - was to cause our life-style to undergo a complete transformation; from now on, we became bound to do His will, and He became our Supreme Master, undertaking to provide for all our needs and to protect us with a homeland, a homeland which would fall directly under His own personal supervision. The strength or weakness of this personal relationship would lie in our hands and would be governed by our own loyalty to our new Master, (or by our lack of it) - but it would never be broken.
Perhaps the most striking fact of all is that the Revelation of Hashem to Klal Yisroel took place before the very eyes of a few million people and, as we mentioned earlier, the entire world was aware of it. Nobody denied Ma'amad Har Sinai, indeed nobody could deny Ma'amad Har Sinai, because assuming Ma'amad Har Sinai was false, how could one possibly introduce such a fact into the annals of history. The fact is that Ma'amad Har Sinai has no challengers. It did take place and it must have taken place. Whatever the claims of the other nations, we continue to be the treasured nation of Hashem. If anything, our continued existence as a nation in the face of the numerous attempts at genocide, by a variety of nations, is clear proof that our status has not changed. All that is required to revert to our close relationship with Hashem is that we strengthen our ties with Him. Then, in accordance with the covenant made at Har Sinai, He will strengthen His ties with us, and peace and prosperity will be ours for ever.
And this is the meaning of our new title - the "Am Segulah".
HaRav Eliezer Chrysler of Shema Yisrael Torah Network