A Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation
At the receiving of the Torah, Hashem said to the Jewish people: “For you are a Kingdom of priests and a Holy Nation”. What does this really mean?
The world has 4 basic levels of evolution. The first level is DOMEM – Dirt, Rocks, Water, etc. The second level of evolution is TZOME'ACH – growing things, like plants and trees. The third level is Chai - living creatures, from insects to elephants and monkeys. And the fourth level is MEDABER – Speakers; human beings. But Chazal tell us that there is a Fifth level – The Jewish People. We are literally an entire step up in the evolutionary ladder over regular human beings. Why is that? What makes us so special? After all, we also are born and die, we also eat, sleep and get sick. So what makes us so different, so much higher?
We are called a "Holy Nation". Holy means separate and above our animal instincts. You see, human beings without the Torah are just complex animals. Yes, they are MEDABER – Speakers, but they are just really intelligent animals. Without the Torah, we follow our animal instincts, the same instincts that dogs and monkeys have. Of course humans are more polite and more “enlightened”, but at the end of the day, they are ruled by their desires. But Hashem wanted MORE from His Creation. He had a plan for evolution to progress BEYOND just "intelligent animals". Hashem envisioned a creature who was capable of rising above nature - even though it was hard, humans with a higher purpose! He desired a people who would rise ABOVE their animal instincts and be a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation - a nation with a connection and a RELATIONSHIP with Him!
The Rambam writes (Hilchos Issurei Biyah 22:17): “There is nothing in the entire Torah that is difficult to most people like abstaining from arayos and forbidden relations: Our sages say, that when the Yidden were commanded on the prohibitions of Arayos, they accepted these mitzvos with complaints and crying (as the Pasuk says "Bocheh Lemishpechosav"). And our sages have said, “theft and arayos, the nature of man desires them and craves them”. Yes, it is hard. But this is what DEFINES us. The rest of the world is steeped in their animalistic instincts. Lust is everywhere, displayed without shame, and the whole world revolves around it. But we, the Jewish people, are a Holy Nation. We are the pinnacle of Hashem’s Creation, precisely BECAUSE we work hard to overcome our natural instincts by the light of the holy Torah!
So instead of us complaining about it being hard (which it is), we should rejoice in the great honor that we have been given to be a whole level higher than the rest of the world, and to represent Hashem’s ultimate goal in Creation.