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The Sky’s the Limit

By Rabbi Aharon Gabbay

The parashah tells of a famous dialogue between Avraham Avinu and Hakadosh Baruch Hu: Avraham is troubled that he will not have children, Hashem takes Avraham outside to show him the stars and says your children will be many just like the stars. Rashi explains that the simple way of understanding the conversation is that hashem was showing him the abundance of stars to show Avraham that he will have an abundance of children. However,continues rashi, the deeper understanding is that Avraham looked at the stars and saw that astrologically he will not bear children. Hashem told Avraham that leave your views of astronomy and ignore what they say.

The Gemara in sotah (12b) says that the goyim possess certain powers and prophecy through astrology. However, they have very limited understanding of these powers. The Gemara brings an example: when the Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians pharaoh’s sourceres saw that the saviour of Israel (Moshe) will die by water so they decreed to throw all the babies in the river, little did they know that the water that Moshe would be killed by was a complete different event.

We say 3 times a day in ‘Alenu Leshabeach’ – ״שהם משתחוים…אל אל לו יושיע, ואנחנו כורעים ומשתחוים לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא שהוא נוטה שמים ויסד ארץ” – “the other nations of the world serve other gods…and they (the gods) don’t give them salvation, but we serve hashem who places the heavens and establishes the land”. The phrase doesn’t say that hashem does give us salvation as opposed the the other gods, rather it says that he places the heavens and establishes the earth. This is because the powers of the other nations are limited to a great extent, Hashem, on the other hand, he created the world he has no limits and he is the God that we serve.

A servant of Hashem’s potential can be likened to the beam of a laser, when you shine it at the wall it seems like that is the end of the laser, however, as you move the beam to a point much further, the laser will reach there aswell. A Jew is capable of so much, Be it physically, emotionally or spiritually.

We can see this idea personified in our leaders. A person only has a small time in this world, only for a chunk of ones life are they a fully grown human being. But if we look at the works of Rav Ovadia Yosef z”tl he has produced sefarim which seem to exceed the time he had in his life. We may not be Rav ovadia, but we surely have access to what he had access to. We can use this to expand on our own knowledge and attributes. May we merit to use these strengths to help ourselves grow both spiritually and physically.

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