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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

How could we be the Chosen People?

Sukkah 36

How do we know that the Jews are the chosen people?  If G-d loves us, then why are we so few in number?  Compared to other Abrahamic religions that boast over a billion people each, we’ve never really taken off as a religion.  Maybe we’re not so chosen, after all?

What is the maximum size of an etrog?  Rabbi Yehuda says that one must be able to hold two etrogim in one hand.  According to Rabbi Yossi, even if one needs two hands to hold one etrog, it would still be kosher.   In fact, says Rabbi Yossi, once Rabbi Akiva entered the synagogue with an etrog so big that he had to carry it on his back!

Rabbi Yehuda responds:  That’s your proof?  At the time, the rabbis indicated to Rabbi Akiva that bigger didn’t mean more beautiful!

Ever since the Tower of Babel, man has always believed that bigger is better.  We build skyscrapers and super-malls, mega-temples and ginormous palaces.    

But finally in the twenty-first century, we have begun to appreciate that bigger is not always better.  In the 1970s, we had massive computers that filled an entire room.  Today, we have more information that we could ever dream of in the palms of our hands. 

When the Hummer first hit the market, everyone wanted one.  Now we realize that we were wantonly destroying the planet that our grandchildren will inherit. 

And a startup in Israel recently invented a microscope that can be swallowed as a pill in order to see inside a patient without invasive surgery!  As the rabbis pointed out to Rabbi Akiva centuries ago, bigger is not always better.

G-d tells us in the Torah that He does not love us because we are great in number, “for you are the smallest among the nations.”  Judaism has never believed that bigger is better.  We may rise and fall in prominence, but we have always remained a physically tiny nation. 

What is big about the Jewish people is the spiritual and intellectual impact we have bestowed upon the world.  We were chosen to impart a message and that message has not changed.  G-d promises us in the Torah that if we keep the message intact, then we will continue to be great.  Not in numbers, but in influence.

You are a member of the greatest civilization to walk the planet!  Your nation may be small, but your message is great!  Never stop conveying that message.  Tell your friends, colleagues and neighbours of the greatness of G-d and His unity!


One day we will all serve Him together as one great voice.