Perashat EkebFriday, August 07, 2015
Yesterday, I sent an email to the congregation about an article that tried to marvel at the Jews for their disproportionate high achievement and their contribution to the world. The article also tried to explain such a phenomenon. The Jews represent 0.02% of the world population and 2% of the U.S. population, yet they have made such enormous contribution to the betterment of humanity.
In addition, despite the few in number that we are, the impression by the rest of the world is that we are 10 to 20 times our census. If you would ask any uninformed U.S. citizen how many Jews live in the US. They would say 30 million; and in the world, they would say 300 million.
We are overrepresented in Nobel prizes 100 times more than our population. In the sciences, education, banking, real estate, politics and government, music and the art from 13 to 25 time our number.
The hypotheses and theories abound as to why that is the impression and why Jews are high achievers.
This week’s Perashat Ekeb actually gives the reason. As Moshe speaks to the Children of Israel, he reminds them, “With 70 people your ancestors descended to Egypt and now Hashem made you like the stars of Heaven in abundance”. Only 70 people were the Household of Israel, and yet from these 70, an entire nation was born; a people that filled the Earth with their achievements, contributions and accomplishments. Despite persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, anti-Semitism, Holocaust and now a nuclear threat, Hashem, has made us appear maybe not in numbers, but in strength, influence and presence, “like the stars of Heaven in abundance”.
The many reasons that social and bio-scientists give for that, fall short of the real reason as stated in the Torah: “Only your forefathers did Hashem cherish to love them, and He chose their offspring from among all the peoples”. It is due to the Zekhut Abot - the merits of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and the promise to them to protect and cherish their descendants as well as the blessings imparted upon the Jewish People, that we are able to achieve and reach such contributions to the world. In the history of the world and its civilization, there has not been any other nation or people with such a history that has, against all odds, achieved so much. It is only due to the blessings of G-d and His Hesed - benevolence - with our People that we were able to achieve that.
On a daily basis we ought to recognize that and be thankful to the A-mighty for His Benevolence, kindness, compassion and good will that we still exist and thrive. May Hashem continue His beneficence toward us, our People and our Nation, Amen.
Jan 19 2022
Shebat 17 5782