Through Torah, the Jewish People are Above Nature

It is written, “Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand; and your enemies will fall before you by the sword” (Vayikra 26:8).

From here we learn that when the Jewish people are connected to Torah and mitzvot, they are granted supernatural power, to the point that five of them can pursue a hundred, and a hundred of them can pursue ten thousand. Yet when they are far from Torah and mitzvot, a single non-Jew can pursue a hundred Jews. Because of our many sins, this occurred in Nazi Germany and Poland, when a single German guarded a hundred Jews without any fear, and when only two Germans guarded an entire camp of Jews, who were paralyzed and had no strength to even raise their arms or heads.

The same thing occurs today: When I walk along the streets of New York City, I see non-Jews looking at us with scorn in their eyes, which has not always been the case. It’s a sign that anti-Semitism is increasing from day to day, even with regards to Israelis. Non-Jews falsely claim that Jews are seizing all the wealth in the United States, and that they control all branches of the financial world.

Yet everyone knows that there are only a few million Jews in the world, whereas there are billions of non-Jews and Jews cannot control the financial world because they comprise an extremely small minority among the wealthy. Therefore why does the entire world accept the lie that Jews are all rich and possess the world’s key treasures? Why do they ignore the fact that most of them are really poor and would not have enough to eat if G-d did not have pity on them, that only a small percentage of them are rich, and that those who are rich give generously to tzeddakah? How can non-Jews lie like this, fabricating anti-Semitism by such statements?

When Jews follow G-d’s ways, the nations of the world view them with the proper degree of respect and consideration, which brings about a sanctification of G-d’s Name. The nations of the world recognize that it is by the merit of Israel that the world endures and receives abundance (Yerushalmi Gittin, end of ch. 5). Yet when Jews leave the right path, the nations suddenly get the impression that they are numerous. If a single Jew owns a store, they say that a hundred Jews own stores. If two Jews own stores, they claim that there are two hundred, and one hundred Jewish stores become ten thousand. Thus anti-Semitism is born, for Jews seem to number in the thousands in the eyes of non-Jews, who have the impression that they control the financial world. Jews are therefore punished through the intermediary of the nations.

As a result, when Jews cleave to G-d and His mitzvot, they are above nature. That is, no one can harm them, and a single Jew can pursue a thousand, while a hundred Jews can pursue ten thousand.

If our understanding of this is correct, we may add that when the Jewish people pursue the right path, G-d introduces a supernatural element into nature and raises Jews above it. In fact it is written, “For even a thousand years in Your eyes are but a bygone yesterday” (Tehillim 90:4), a verse that the Sages interpret as meaning that one of G-d’s days is equal to a thousand years (Sanhedrin 97a). This is surprising: (1) How do things change if G-d’s day is equal to one thousand years or more, be it for Him or for us? (2) If such indeed is the case, why does G-d’s day have to be so long? And if it does have to be so long, why is it limited to a thousand years?

This is what we may say on the subject: The Holy One, blessed be He, divided Creation into six days, and on each day He manifested Himself as the ruler of the world (Otiyot d’Rabbi Akiva 1). G-d revealed Himself to all of Creation to show that He is One and that there is no other. He demanded that every person recognize Him as the ruler and sovereign of the world, and each day He derived great satisfaction and pleasure from His work. However G-d foresaw that Adam would sin before Shabbat, which is what happened (Sanhedrin 38b), and that he would incur death. How could G-d destroy the world that He had created, and to which He had given the Torah, the goal of all Creation (Pesachim 68b, Nedarim 32a)? What would become of the world and the Torah? Who was going to study it?

Under such circumstances, Hashem saw that it was good to lengthen His day to one thousand years. In reality, time has no meaning to G-d. Therefore when we speak of one of His days, it means that the immense pleasure that he received from Creation was equal to what a man would experience if he could live a thousand years, with all his days being filled with pleasure. It is in that sense that G-d’s day is like a thousand years to man, for the expression conveys the magnitude of the pleasure that G-d received from Creation (and particularly from the Torah it contained). Even when a man sins, repentance will earn him pleasure equal to a thousand years.

The Gemara evokes this very same idea concerning the verse, “I am Hashem your G-d” (Shemot 20:2): Every word that came from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, split into 70 languages, an unattainable feat for a mere mortal, and something only possible for G-d (Shabbat 68b). The same applies to a day of the Holy One, blessed be He, which although unique, is comparable to a thousand years of a person’s life spent in happiness caused by Torah study and mitzvot observance.

To explain this in more depth, we know that there are two mitzvot in the Torah (honoring one’s parents and sending a mother bird off before taking her young) about which it is said: “So that it will be good for you and that you may prolong your days” (Devarim 22:7). Here the Sages have said, “ ‘So that it will be good for you’ means on the day that is wholly good, and ‘that you may prolong your days’ [means] on the day that is wholly long” (Kiddushin 39b, Chullin 142a). Such is not the case for life in this world, which is short and filled with suffering, and where neither days nor years are prolonged.

What does a prolonging of days in the World to Come mean? If a righteous person departs from this world and two days later Mashiach arrives, his time in the World to Come will have lasted just two days. Is this the meaning of “prolonging”? Where is the reward, therefore, that G-d has promised a righteous person in terms of prolonging his days in the World to Come?

According to what we have said, we clearly see that a day of the Holy One, blessed be He, is like a thousand years of experiencing infinite pleasure, like a day that will be extremely long, without limit. Thus when a person is in the World to Come for two days, even if Mashiach were to arrive almost right afterwards, he will have experienced pleasure in the World to Come equivalent to having spent two thousand years enjoying infinite pleasure, along the lines of “no eye has seen it, G-d, if not You.” Even if he spends but a few hours in the World of Truth, it will also be satisfying to him and a source of pleasure for many years, for in such a world the feeling of the Holy One’s majesty and holiness is so lasting and real that a person has the impression that he is experiencing a pleasure that is absolutely infinite.

In addition, a person’s reward in the World to Come is proportional to his work in this world multiplied by more than a hundred, so that it becomes as great as possible. For example, when someone lives 60 or 70 years in this world while studying Torah and performing mitzvot, it is as if he studied 60 or 70 thousand years, of which the Holy One, blessed be He, rewards him for every instant. Concerning such a reward it is said: “Mah rav tuvecha [How abundant is Your goodness] that You have stored away for those who fear You” (Tehillim 31:20).

We may explain that man relates to mah (the word adam [man] has the same numerical value as mah [what], and the Tetragrammaton also has that same numerical value when written with additional alephs – Zohar Ruth 102b). The Holy One, blessed be He, has reserved a reward for man that can be designated by mah, a reward that he can neither imagine nor describe. If he studies Torah, G-d greatly multiplies his reward, and since the day is divided into hours, minutes, and seconds, how many millions and indeed billions of seconds of infinite pleasure will a man receive in the World to Come! The Sages have clearly said, “There is no reward for a mitzvah in this world” (Kiddushin 39b), for the Holy One, blessed be He, multiplies the reward for performing a mitzvah in the World to Come.

Reward is therefore above nature and logic, for the Jewish people are also above nature when they occupy themselves with Torah study, mitzvot observance, and walking in the right path. They are then stronger than the nations of the world, and furthermore abundance comes into the world through their merit.


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