Numbers are fun. In fact, many people are really into numbers, all kinds of numbers. There are special mathematical numbers like pi, numbers in physics and chemistry, numbers in economics. There are also lots of numbers in the Torah, too. In fact, an entire Book of the Torah is called the Book of Numbers.1

It is so called because it tells us about several occasions when the Jewish people were counted during their travels in the desert, on their way to the Holy Land. The Sages tell us these were no ordinary censuses. Each time the Jewish people were counted, it was an expression of G‑d’s love for His people and His concern for every individual.

This great power that the stars possess is not at all obviousRashi’s commentary2 compares G‑d’s counting of the Jewish people to the way He “counts” the heavenly stars. The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Creator knows each star, and “counts” them all as they rise and set.3 In a similar way, G‑d counts the Jewish people repeatedly.

This connection of the Jewish people with the stars is found several times in Jewish teaching. For example, G‑d promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. The comparison of people with stars gives us an insight into the special nature of each individual.

Throughout history, people have been gazing at the stars. Over the centuries, astronomers have drawn star maps showing enormous numbers of stars, some large and bright, others so small and faint they are only visible through powerful telescopes.

Astronomers tell us that each star is a gigantic source of heat and light. The stars which look so small are in fact very large and powerful. Further, the sages explain that the stars act as channels of spiritual influence. In this, each star is different than all others, with its own unique qualities.

Yet this great power that the stars possess is not at all obvious. To us on earth, looking with the unaided eye and perhaps not thinking too much about the matter, the stars seem tiny and insignificant. Yet in fact, each star is a powerful and unique force.

So too is the case with each individual. In the context of the big wide world, he or she might feel insignificant. Yet, in truth, within each one of us there is an inner source of tremendous spiritual power, tailored to the unique and essential task we must carry out in the course of our lives.

We tap that power by following the divine commands taught in the Torah. These channel our physical and spiritual power in the most positive ways, transforming the energies of the “star” into a bright source of radiance and life for ourselves and for all around us, bringing blessing and, ultimately, redemption to all humanity.4