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A Timely Torah Message By Shaya Gross

A Selfless Leader

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu blesses the Jewish people that they will increase a thousand fold.
Rashi cites the Sifri, which quotes the following dialogue between Moshe and Klal Yisroel: Klal Yisroel ask Moshe, “Why are you limiting the number of our offspring? Hashem gave us a bracha that we will be as numerous as the dust of the earth!” Moshe responds, “this [bracha] is from me, and Hashem will bless you like He has already promised.” (To understand the reason why Moshe gave Klal Yisroel a seemingly pointless bracha, as Hashem had already blessed them that they would be innumerable, take a look in Rabbi Frand’s first sefer on Chumash for a beautiful answer from the Chasam Sofer.)

Why did Moshe bless Klal Yisroel to increase specifically one thousand fold? What was unique about this number?

The Hafla provides us with a clever calculation to answer this question. There were two times in the Midbar when Hashem became ‘frustrated’ with Klal Yisroel to such an extent that He told Moshe that He will destroy Klal Yisroel and remake a great nation from just him (Moshe). Hashem did not tell Moshe how great He would make him. Chazal tell us that the good Hashem does for us is always 500 times greater than Hashem’s punishment. Hence, each time Hashem told Moshe, ‘I will make from you a great nation’, it was to be at least 500 times as numerous as Klal Yisroel. Twice 500 times is a thousand. Even though Hashem didn’t carry out his plan of destroying Klal Yisroel, we know that anything Hashem says for the good, even if it is an unfulfilled condition, He never retracts. So Moshe had, ‘in the bank’, a bracha that his descendants would multiply a thousand times as much as Klal Yisroel. Moshe, in turn, gave this bracha [in our Parsha] to Klal Yisroel that THEY should multiply a thousand fold! We can now fully appreciate Moshe’s words, ‘This is from me’. Not just that Moshe was giving them a personal Bracha. Moshe was telling them ‘this was my very own Bracha that I received from Hashem, and now I am giving it to you Klal Yisroel!’
How fortunate were we to have such a selfless leader!
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