In this week’s Parashah, Avraham is given a Beracha by one of Hashem’s angels right after Akeidat Yitzchak. The Beracha dictates, “Ki Vareich Avarechecha VeHarbah Arbeh Et Zar’acha KeChochevei HaShamayim VeChaChol Asher Al Sephat HaYam,” “I shall bless you, and multiply your offspring like the stars in the sky, and the sand that is on the seashore” (BeReishit 22:17). While this blessing is beneficial, it begs the question—why are we, Avraham’s descendants, compared to something so exalted as the heavens, yet, at the same time, likened to something so mundane as sand, upon which we literally trample?
While many Meforshim present several interpretations of these two apparently paradoxical symbols, I would like to present my own. Perhaps the stars in the heavens represent us, Bnei Yisrael, as individuals: each of us has sparkling talents and abilities that make us unique. Likewise, every one of us has a purpose to fulfill in life that only we—and no one else—can realize. Therefore, when we achieve our respective purposes, we can shine alone, as bright as the stars in the sky. When we unite, we can form constellations and galaxies, and, in the practical realm, by using our talents together, we can improve Bnei Yisrael.
But at other times, we are like the sand on the seashore. We can be recognized fully only as a nation; if analyzed individually, each of us is nothing, as insignificant as a grain of sand compared to the beach of our nation. Bnei Yisrael can resemble the sand at many instances, particularly in times of disloyalty and betrayal, when its members forgo their talents, and sin, which causes Hashem to look down on them. At such moments, Bnei Yisrael is like the sand in another regard, as, in such times, its enemies triumph.
While this notion can be quite disheartening, we should always keep the flipside of the equation in mind: when we are loyal and faithful to ourselves and Hashem, we become, once more, like the stars in the heavens, shining as individuals and even more so as a group, above others, and successful against our enemies, and in life in general.
Adapted from a Devar Torah by Rav Goldwicht