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    A big deal – D’varim

    starsMoses never had an easy time as the leader.

    In the very first chapter of D’varim he tells the people that there are so many of them that he can’t handle the burden.

    How does he describe their vast numbers? “Like the stars of the heaven for multitude” (Deut. 1:10).

    The simile is an obvious exaggeration, since the Book of B’midbar has given us precise statistics and we know the “stars of heaven” phrase is not to be taken literally.

    But the Midrash does not leave it as a mere question of numbers. It sees the phrase as a prophecy of the future. In time to come the Israelite people will light up the skies as spiritual and intellectual stars.

    All these centuries later we see the evidence of the dream come true. Even the antisemites who constantly criticise who we are and what we do, and find so little to praise about us, have to admit that the Jews have made a contribution to civilisation that is far out of proportion to their numbers.

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