On entering the Promised Land, Moses shares fundamental values to frame Israel’s hearts and minds. Although one of the smallest nations of the earth, God chose to enter into a covenant with them.
The people needed to know that God was not measuring value based on physical means, where “more is better”. Numbers and size do matter when dealing with purely physical issues; however, the most meaningful and valuable aspects of life cannot be valued in quantitative terms. We cannot evaluate love, honour or integrity by number or size. We cannot judge love based on the number of hugs or gifts received but by the sincerity behind them. We cannot measure honour by the count of actions but by their virtue. They are not values measured with rulers or weights but by our hearts and experiences.
Moses assures the people their relationship with God is not due to size, but is of a higher order altogether, based on its calibre, not its count. We routinely, incorrectly, consider greatness based on how many mitzvot we have done, or how many pages we have studied.
Instead, our Sages say: “Whether one does much or one does little, what is of importance is that the heart is aimed towards Heaven.” We thus learn that mitzvot are measured by the sincerity of their performance and study by the learner’s commitment.
In Va’etchanan, Moses teaches that God chose the people not because of how many they were, but who they were. Life’s highest, most meaningful aspects are not measured by quantity, but by quality — a perspective allowing us to rise above the mundane and recognise what matters most.
We lose entire worlds of meaning when measuring value is restricted to physical phenomena. True love, together with its thoughts, words and actions, is not quantified by size, but by the experience of the heart.