August 11, 2022 / 14 Tammuz, 5782 • Parshat Va'etchanan
Issue 730
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

G-d did not delight in you and choose you because you are more numerous than any other people, for, on the contrary, you are the least of all the peoples.

Deuteronomy 7:7

The least of all the peoples

Among the nations of the world, the Jewish people have almost always been a minority; among the Jewish people themselves, those Jews who have scrupulously fulfilled the commandments have always been a minority; and even the most religious of us succeed in dedicating only a minority of our time to explicitly holy pursuits such as prayer and Torah study.

This objective reality may prompt us to wonder how this minority can be expected to hold its own against the majority, and even if it can, what’s the point, since it seems doomed to remain the minority? Furthermore, as time progresses and assimilation and war erode our numbers while the demands of modern life leave us both less and less time for spiritual pursuits and with less and less sensitivity to them, this question becomes increasingly trenchant.

The decisive answer to this question has been discovered only in modern times. As science has learned to unleash the power of the atom, the world has learned that size is not always an indication of power. What matters is knowing how to access the energy latent in the smallness; once that knowledge has been discovered, even the smallest particle of matter can release incredible amounts of force.

The basic process used to release this force is nuclear fission, in which the atom is broken down into smaller components. As Jews, this teaches us that the key to releasing our latent, infinite potential is by breaking our egos, allowing our inner, Divine essence to shine through.

The better we master this “spiritual technology,” the less we need be intimidated by being an apparently insignificant minority among the world’s populace, by being the relative few among our people who are seriously devoted to the Torah’s teachings, or by having only limited time and energy to devote to holy endeavors. Within us lies the power to change the entire world for the good!

—From The Kehot Chumash