The actions of every individual can impact the entire world

Aug 4, 2021

כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשׂוֹת לְמַעַן תִּחְיוּן וּרְבִיתֶם וּבָאתֶם וִירִשְׁתֶּם אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּע יְהֹוָה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם׃

You shall faithfully observe all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, that you may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers.

kol ha-mitz-VAH a-SHER a-no-KHEE m'-tza-v'-KHA ha-YOM tish-m'-RUN la-a-SOT l'-MA-an tikh-YUN ur-vee-TEM u-va-TEM vee-rish-TEM et ha-A-retz a-sher nish-BA a-do-NAI la-a-vo-tay-KHEM

Deuteronomy 8:1

In this verse, Moses reminds the people that how they behave will directly impact their ability to live in the Land of Israel. He tells them that if they faithfully observe God’s commandments, not only will they thrive and increase, but they will be able to possess the land that the Almighty has promised to give them. However, the reverse is also true and if they fail to faithfully follow God’s commands, not only will they not be successful but they will be kicked out of the land.

The biblical commentator known as the Kli Yakar notes that in Hebrew, this verse starts in the singular, “all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you (singular) today,” but finishes in the plural, “that you (plural) may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers.” He suggests that this is because the positive actions of even a single person can benefit the entire world. An individual following one commandment can bring merit to many, and ensure that they live and thrive.

Furthermore, the words in this verse, as in so many others throughout the Bible, directly connect the blessing of life to living in the Land of Israel. It is in every person’s power not only to enable others to live, but to “thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers.”

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