The Power Factor
The Power Factor
"Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten
The Torah teaches that when Bnei Yisroel will be committed to
the adherence of the Torah, five Jews will be able to vanquish one hundred
of their enemies and one hundred Jews will be able to vanquish ten thousand.
Rashi notes the seemingly disproportionate ratios in the
verse. Five defeating one hundred means that their power is multiplied by
twenty. Therefore, one hundred should only be able to defeat two thousand,
not ten thousand. Rashi solves this dilemma by explaining that the Torah is
teaching us that one cannot compare the commitment of individuals to Torah
observance, to the commitment made by a large group.1
What requires further elaboration is that the verse is referring to a time
when the entire Bnei Yisroel will observe the Torah. If so, what does Rashi
mean when he says that the Torah is contrasting the observance of the few to
that of the many?
If the message is only that there is strength in numbers, the Maharal points
out that although the number of Jews increase, so does the number of their
enemies2 Why does the increased number of enemies not counteract
the number of Jews?
When dealing with group dynamics, there are two means by which the
collective impact of the group can be more powerful than the impact of a
single individual attempting to accomplish the same feat on his own. One
type of group contains individuals, each with his own agenda in mind, who
have linked up with other individuals having matching agendas. Their focus
to accomplish the same feat, albeit each person for his own particular
reason, is more effective than if they would each be attempting to perform
this feat individually. The second type of group is much more effective than
the first. In this group, each individual's agenda is not only to meet his
particular needs, but to help every other individual in the group meet their
needs as well.
Whereas in the first group the feat alone is what unites them and their
strength is derived from their numbers, in the second group there is the
additional benefit of each individual having every other group member help
him to meet his own particular needs. In this case, the group members are
united in their desire to help one another; the feat is just the
manifestation of this desire.
The Torah is contrasting these two group dynamics. The first group is
described with the verb first, "veradfu mikem". "Veradfu" means "will
pursue" and "mikem" means "of you"; it is the act of pursuing which unites
them as a group. However, the description of the second group is written
prior to the verb, "ume'ah mikem revavah yirdofu". "Ume'ah mikem" means "one
hundred of you" and "revavah yirdofu" means "ten thousand will pursue"; the
group is formed by their desire to help one another which, in this
situation, manifests itself by pursuing the enemy. Therefore, due to the
fact that there is strength in numbers, the strength of the first group is
only twenty-fold. However, in the second group there are one hundred members
and each individual has ninety-nine people other than himself interested in
accomplishing his goals. Consequently, each person has the strength of one
hundred, and the collective strength of the group of one hundred is
therefore ten thousand.
What Rashi is explaining is that if Bnei Yisroel's adherence to the Torah is
only as individuals interested in their own agenda, they do not possess the
strength of a nation in which each individual desires to help his fellow
members with their adherence to the Torah.
Walk Tall For G-D's Sake
"I will place My Sanctuary among you; and My Spirit will not reject
you...and I led you erect"(26:11,13)
We find in Parshas Bechukosai a series of blessings that
await Bnei Yisroel if they put all of their energies into unifying their
relationship with Hashem. Conversely, there are a series of curses that will
befall Bnei Yisroel if this relationship deteriorates. The blessings appear
to follow an order which reflects a strengthening relationship with Hashem;
we are promised prosperity, peace, sustained security, and that Hashem's
presence will rest amongst the Jews i.e. the Beis Hamikdash in Jerusalem.
A number of the blessings in this sequence require further explanation.
After the blessing that the Beis Hamikdash will be in our midst the verse
records, "velo sigal nafshi eschem" - "My spirit will not reject you". The
Ramban questions why Bnei Yisroel would, after adhering to all the precepts,
require the blessing that Hashem will not reject them.1 The Panim
Yafos strengthens this question based upon the sequence of the blessings. If
Hashem has already committed to place His Divine presence in our midst in
the form of the Beis Hamikdash, why do we require assurance that Hashem will
not reject us.2
The continuation of the verse also poses a problem; "va'olech eschem
komimius" is interpreted according to Chazal as "I will lead you upright".
The Talmud teaches that a person is prohibited to walk "bekoma zekufa" -
"with his head erect", for this is perceived as a sign of arrogance, and is
described as "pushing away the feet of the Divine presence"3. If
so, why are we being blessed to walk in such a manner? Furthermore, the
Talmud comments on this verse: "we will walk with the height and stature of
the Sanctuary"4 what message is the Talmud attempting to relay?
The Targum Yonason interprets the verse "lo sigal nafshi eschem" to mean
that Bnei Yisroel will not reject the commandments of Hashem i.e. the Torah,
and not that Hashem will not reject us.5 Why at the highest level of
blessing do we find that Bnei Yisroel will not reject Hashem's mitzvos?
Generally, we would like to think that "free choice" means having the right
to choose. However, this is not so; we have the ability, not the right to
violate Hashem's commandments and therefore, we must suffer the consequences
of our choices. This knowledge could create the feeling in man that he is
being imposed upon, and consequently, even when there is compliance, it is
tinged with resistance. When Hashem gave Bnei Yisroel the Torah and they
proclaimed "na'aseh venishmah" - "we will do and perceive" Bnei Yisroel were
able to transcend all feelings of imposition and resistance. What they were
acknowledging was that through their observance they would perceive the
benefit the mitzvos would bring them. The Torah allows us to actualize our
potential and define who we really are. Therefore, accepting the Torah is
not an imposition, rather the ultimate benefit granted to mankind. The
highest form of a relationship with Hashem is attained when we are able to
overcome any sense of resistance and imposition. This is the level that the
Targum Yonason describes as "velo sigal nafshi eschem" - "we will not be
repulsed by the mitzvos"; there will be no resistance in our observance.
The notion that walking upright "pushes away the feet of the Divine
presence" is a result of the resistance that we have in accepting Hashem's
Torah; man's arrogance results from the need to stand up for his own rights.
If, however, the relationship is such that no resistance exists, then we
become vessels which reflect the majesty of our Creator and walking upright
becomes a sanctification of Hashem's name. This is what the Talmud means
when it states "we will walk with the height and stature of the Sanctuary".
In the same manner as the Sanctuary reflects the honor and glory of Hashem,
we too will reach a level in our relationship in which we will reflect His
honor and glory.
1.26:11 2.Ibid. 3.Berachos 43b 4.Bava Basra75a 5.26:11