The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM -

“You were the fewest of all peo­ples” Deuteron­omy 7:7

On en­ter­ing the Promised Land, Moses shares fun­da­men­tal val­ues to frame Is­rael’s hearts and minds. Although one of the small­est na­tions of the earth, God chose to en­ter into a covenant with them.

The peo­ple needed to know that God was not mea­sur­ing value based on phys­i­cal means, where “more is bet­ter”. Num­bers and size do mat­ter when deal­ing with purely phys­i­cal is­sues; how­ever, the most mean­ing­ful and valu­able as­pects of life can­not be val­ued in quan­ti­ta­tive terms. We can­not eval­u­ate love, hon­our or in­tegrity by num­ber or size. We can­not judge love based on the num­ber of hugs or gifts re­ceived but by the sin­cer­ity be­hind them. We can­not mea­sure hon­our by the count of ac­tions but by their virtue. They are not val­ues mea­sured with rulers or weights but by our hearts and ex­pe­ri­ences.

Moses as­sures the peo­ple their re­la­tion­ship with God is not due to size, but is of a higher or­der al­to­gether, based on its cal­i­bre, not its count. We rou­tinely, in­cor­rectly, con­sider great­ness based on how many mitzvot we have done, or how many pages we have stud­ied.

In­stead, our Sages say: “Whether one does much or one does lit­tle, what is of im­por­tance is that the heart is aimed to­wards Heaven.” We thus learn that mitzvot are mea­sured by the sin­cer­ity of their per­for­mance and study by the learner’s com­mit­ment.

In Va’etchanan, Moses teaches that God chose the peo­ple not be­cause of how many they were, but who they were. Life’s high­est, most mean­ing­ful as­pects are not mea­sured by quan­tity, but by qual­ity — a per­spec­tive al­low­ing us to rise above the mun­dane and recog­nise what mat­ters most.

We lose en­tire worlds of mean­ing when mea­sur­ing value is re­stricted to phys­i­cal phe­nom­ena. True love, to­gether with its thoughts, words and ac­tions, is not quan­ti­fied by size, but by the ex­pe­ri­ence of the heart. RABBI JOSEPH DWECK

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