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    Abraham & the stars – Lech Lecha

    starsIn today’s world, stars are people, famous because they sing, act, play sport or make business deals.

    There is a midrashic tradition that also associates stars with human beings, but in quite a different sense.

    It is appropriate to quote it at this time of the year when so much of the Torah reading contains stories about stars.

    The star-gazing in these sidrot is the outcome of the Middle Eastern environment whence Abraham and his family derived.

    The nights were conducive to star-gazing, and people could look up at the sky and marvel at the greatness of nature and its Creator.

    What the Midrash does is to say that the righteous, the tzaddikim, are like the stars. They shine, they illumine the heavens and the earth, they reflect the Heavenly light that God made in the first week of history.

    They are predictable; they regularly move in their courses and constantly carry out good deeds.

    From the physical point of view, the stars are in the heavens and we are on earth. Neither can change places with the other. But metaphorically it is not like that at all.

    A tzaddik can, God forbid, drop out of the constellations if he behaves in a way that besmirches his righteousness.

    On the other hand, a lowly human being whom others hardly even notice can perform a beautiful deed, think a noble thought, show unbelievable love, and a new star is noticed in the heavens.

    Is this what is meant by the verse, Darach kochav miYaakov – “a star shall step forth out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17)?

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