Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Why is the Jewish People So Small
Near the end of Va'etchanan, so inconspicuously that we can sometimes miss it, is a statement with such far-reaching implications that it challenges the impression that has prevailed thus far in the Torah, giving an entirely new complexion to the biblical image of the people of Israel:
The L-rd did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you are the fewest of all peoples.
This is not what we have heard thus far. In Genesis, G-d promises the patriarchs that their descendants will be like the stars of the heaven, the sand on the seashore and the dust of the earth, uncountable. Abraham will be the father not just of one nation, but of many. At the beginning of Exodus we read of how the covenantal family, numbering a mere seventy when they went down to Egypt, were "fertile and prolific, and their population increased. They became so numerous that the land was filled with them."
Tell Us Your Story
Attention grandparents, parents, and anyone who has memories to share: Please write your memoir. Please tell us your story.
Once upon a time, when the world used to change in slow-motion, memoirs didn't play the role they must today. Children identified with the world their parents grew up in -- for the most part, it was the same world.
Today the world is evolving at such a rapid pace. Children are educating their moms and dads, teaching them how to maneuver in the book-less, mail-less, cord-less (respect-less?) era we live in. The children are the teachers; their parents are the under-average students ("Um, how do I use this gadget, son?"). A topsy-turvy society.
Phases Of Freedom
Are we searching for freedom? Then the Torah will help us in our search. The Torah focuses on the pursuit of freedom, as we see in the story of the Jews in Egypt: how they suffered as slaves, and how they attained liberation. Then came their slow journey through the desert, eventually reaching the Promised Land.
All this did not take place in one single step. Freedom has many stages, and the journey through the desert was itself part of the process. When they left Egypt they were not yet ready for the highest levels of freedom. Forty years later they were.