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The Torah reading this week presents a mathematical inconsistency that  seems illogical.  In describing the blessings that will be showered upon those who follow God's laws, the Torah describes the following scenarios

05/11/2018 01:05:32 PM

May11

Rabbi Steven Suson

The Torah reading this week presents a mathematical inconsistency that seems illogical. In describing the blessings that will be showered upon those who follow God's laws, the Torah describes the following scenarios: "Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand." (Lev. 26:8)

Even middle school math students will notice that if five Jews can chase off one hundred enemies, then one hundred should chase off two thousand, not ten thousand!  Is it true that so few can persevere over so many or shall we attribute it to the fact that calculators had yet to be invented?

Whenever we discuss the few prevailing over the many and the weak conquering the strong in ancient times, stories of Hanukkah and Purim come to mind.  In modern times, the greatest example is the survival and resilience of the State of Israel.  Israel has survived despite historical and ongoing attempts at her eradication.  Israel is resilient because as she grows and strengthens, so do her enemies in numbers and capabilities.  How can a State of less than 8 million citizens and 6 million Jews survive in the in the climate of rising antisemitism in the middle east and abroad?

The biblical commentator, Rashi, suggests a convincing answer to this mathematical quandary.  He suggests that the more people united in living lives informed by Jewish values, the more effective are their actions.  Similarly, as more people unite around a worthy cause, they become more powerful than simply the sum of their parts.

According to this understanding, perhaps the Torah does not contain a mathematical error and perhaps there is no quandary.  Instead, we are taught a valuable lesson.  When we stand together, we become an exponentially more powerful force than individuals acting independently.  The unity that Israel enjoys among its domestic and global supporters, regardless of political affiliation, contributes significantly to the perseverance of the democratic autonomous nation and homeland of the Jewish people.  

Whether we reside in Silver Spring or Jerusalem, when we stand with Israel, we empower Israel to stand for us.  Through volunteering in Israel, taking leisure trips, contributing financially and advocating for Israel at home, we strengthen our connection to the Jewish State and increase its resiliency.  Be an advocate for Israel.  Let her know that she can always rely on you, so that you and your children may always rely her.


Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Suson

Tue, January 22 2019 16 Shevat 5779