In this week’s Torah Portion G-d assures Yaakov that his offspring will be numerous like the sand. Myriads and myriads of us, all to be downtrodden, crunched under foot generation after generation. Any silver lining in that cloud, my friends?
And Rabbeinu Bachya tells us, oh yes there is. Sand goes everywhere. Ever take a trip to the beach? No matter how many times you stood under that sprinkler by the boardwalk, no matter how many times you shook out that blanket and your socks and shoes, inevitably upon returning home you WILL find sand. It will fall out of somewhere, be tracked in somehow, will rustle to the floor of your apartment and say, “you can’t leave sand behind fully.”
Jews have that effect on the world. As much as they might hate us, as much as they might oppress us, our enemies are stuck with the fact that we leave behind our imprint. Long after we might be gone from a country or a place, they are stuck with some vestige of our glory in their consciousness.
So, my friends, if you are going to be that grain of sand that sticks to the surface of the world, make sure it is a worthwhile imprint and memory you are leaving.
Sand not only sticks to those who trod upon it; sand goes far and wide, blows beyond its little place. Which is why after being told his children will be like sand, Yaakov is also promised they will spread out in every direction in the world. Wherever the wind blows, a Jew blew in, too, at some point in history.
And sand, it has the last laugh. Upon man’s death, man who trod upon the sand with heavy boot, is covered and hidden by sand. Sand triumphs and always ends up on top. So too shall our nation, after our exile has passed, rise above those who booted us down.
And, for a very interesting interpretation of a verse you will never read the same way again, we look at a verse from Yishayahu incorporated in the Lecha Dodee. The verse says: [52:2] “Hisna’aree May’Afar Koomee” which we usually translate simply as “shake yourself off from dust and arise”. But, now learning this new slant to things, look at that verse again. Hisna’aree, Rashi tells us is to shake something vigourously as do men when they shake out their Tallis each morning. May’afar Koomee, from that dust-place rise. Our very lowly status will be our ascending point and will give us the ability to rise above, to conquer and triumph, over those who sought to grind us into the ground. From being trod upon like sand, ah, from there we rise.