"You have seen what I have done to Egypt." (Ex. 19:4)

In the above verse, G‑d is telling Israel how He started to refine them, and He promises them that if they are prepared to listen to Him, He will elevate them further, refining them even more, both spiritually and physically.

Why would G‑d take the Torah out of the celestial regions…?

Should Israel ask that if they were to be totally spiritual creatures such as angels, why would G‑d take the Torah out of the celestial regions, away from the angels and give it to them, the Torah answers that Israel has two tasks: 1) to become a kingdom of priests and 2) to become a holy nation. When our sages describe the condition of the soul in the World to Come, they employ the following hyperbole: "The righteous are seated with their crowns on their heads." They do not simply say that the righteous wear crowns, but that they wear their crowns on their heads while seated.

Angels are always described as standing, never as leaping or moving forward. (Isaiah 6:2, Zachariah 3:7) After all, it is difficult to refer to disembodied spiritual beings as "leaping". But how do "sitting" or "standing" apply to abstract disembodied beings?

We must view G‑d as like a king who has two categories of servants at his command. One category is assigned duty in his palace, a permanent assignment; the reward of these servants is the very fact that they have the privilege of serving the king. The second category of servants receives its instructions to perform errands on behalf of the king outside His palace; their reward is that once they have performed their tasks they will be recalled to the palace and assigned positions of honor near the king and enjoy the king's company henceforth - they will not be required to carry out any further assignments.

The Jewish people… retire to the celestial regions, enjoying the peace and harmony….

There is no doubt that this latter category of servants is the more beloved of the two. The first servants referred to in our parable are the ministering angels, whom G‑d employs forever, busy carrying out assignments as in the verse "His servants who are performing His will". (Psalms 103:21)

The second category is the Jewish people, whose assignments are limited to the time allocated to them on this earth. After that, they retire to the celestial regions, enjoying the peace and harmony that prevails there. The reason why they can do this is that by performing G‑d's commandments down in This World, we have created new agents for G‑d. Our "crowns" are these very angels created by our meritorious deeds. It is all this which G‑d has in mind when He says of the Jewish people, "You will be for Me, etc". Since angels are not equipped with an evil urge, they cannot receive credit for subduing it.

[Translation and commentary by Eliyahu Munk]