After 96 years on earth, 70 of them spent on the throne, the Queen’s passing is a historic moment.
After a period of mourning, the spotlight will turn to the new King Charles III. In a pompous ceremony that last took place 70 years ago, the new king, clad in silk and ermine, will have the Crown placed on his head, the scepter placed in his hand, and will be adorned with other objects that make up the coronation regalia. These are a portion of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which include 23,578 stones, among them the largest clear cut diamond in the world, from the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found.
Twenty three thousand, five hundred and seventy eight! That’s a lot of precious stones! What are they for? Do they fund the monarch’s domestic programs or military campaigns? No, they do not. While some of the collection is used for the coronation and other ceremonies, the majority don’t have a particular use other than sitting on display at the Jewel House at the Tower of London. They signify the royal authority to lead and protect the nation.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses tells the Jewish people: “G-d has set you apart today to be His treasured people …”
Rashi (elsewhere) explains this to mean “a cherished treasure … costly vessels and precious stones, which the kings stow away. Likewise, you will be treasured by Me more than the other nations.”
The crown jewels are stowed away, mostly to contribute to the monarch’s sense of eminence and kingship, for him to delight in them. In fact, this is part of what makes him a king.
By setting us apart as His “treasured nation,” G-d showed that the Jewish people’s essential connection to Him transcends the “purpose” we serve. While performing Mitzvot is an important expression of our bond and reveals G-d’s glory, our preciousness to Him lies in the pleasure he derives simply from our being. Like the treasures belonging to a monarch, a Jew’s very existence is a source of delight for G-d, even prior to his fulfilling G-d’s commands.
As we prepare to usher in the new year and crown G-d as our king, let’s remember that we are His crown jewels. PJC
Rabbi Yossi Feller is the rabbi of the Chabad Jewish Center of Cranberry. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Western Pennsylvania.