"Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it." Deuteronomy 1:17
The Torah portion for this week is Davarim, which means "words," from Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 1:1-27.
In 1972, NASA launched Pioneer 10, an exploratory satellite, into space. NASA's goal for the space probe was seen as ambitious. The hope was that the satellite would reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data back to Earth. However, Pioneer 10 not only completed its mission but kept on going, exceeding all expectations. The satellite eventually reached more than six billion miles from the sun in 1997, all the while transmitting information back to Earth from a mere eight-watt transmitter that radiated about as much power as a tiny night light and took more than nine hours to reach Earth.
This primitive satellite was not qualified to do what it did. It was made to last three years, but it surpassed 25. It was set, at best, to reach Jupiter, but it far exceeded anyone's expectations and flew past Pluto. It contained only a bit of power compared to other more sophisticated mechanisms, but accomplished more than anyone thought possible.
The lesson to be learned from this amazing bit of history is that when God is behind a mission, there is no limit to what a person can accomplish - as long as that individual keeps on going and does not give up.
In this week's reading, we learn: "Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone." This was a commandment for Israelite judges in the justice system. The Talmud explains that before a trial began, a judge could choose not to hear the case if he was afraid of possible revenge from one of the litigants. However, once a judge decided to hear the case, he was not allowed to quit. The verse specifies "Do not be afraid of anyone," and from there we learn that once we are on a job, we should not fear anyone or anything, but rather persevere in the name of God.
Once we commit ourselves to a good purpose, we should never give up or quit, and certainly not because we are afraid. Like the "little satellite that could," if we keep on going, even when things get tough, there is no telling how far we can go or what we can accomplish. God can bring about amazing things from an individual with only "eight-watt" capacity, but God cannot work with someone who quits.
I want to encourage us all to keep on going, even when we feel like giving up. Above all, do not be afraid of anyone; rather have faith in God, who can take you further than you ever dreamed.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President