I have been thinking a lot about stars this week. On Tuesday I sported a scarf bearing the "Stars and Stripes" in celebration of our democracy and our right and responsibility to vote. Today, on Veteran's Day, I thought of the same stars as Dr. Jerry Grodin, retired Lieutenant Colonel of the US military, addressed our students about the noble and significant work he did over his twelve years serving our country as a military physician. On a different note, I thought of the stars that Hashem shows Avram in this week's parashah, explaining that Avram's descendants will be as numerous as the countless stars in the heavens. What do these stars have in common? On the most basic level, stars brighten the sky and illuminate darkness. According to Rabbi Meir Shapiro (1887-1934), head of the legendary Lublin Yeshiva in Poland, the stars represent something else as well. When God asks Avram to count the stars, Avram heads outside at God's request. He doesn't balk at the seemingly undoable task nor does he fear the darkness surrounding him. Instead, Avram looks heavenward and begins counting. Avram trains his eyes upward in a display of faith, and imagines a future that awaits replete with God's blessings.
Avram's children are blessed with the same faith, vision, and tenacity. The parashah reminds us to look heavenward and see the stars. To guide us, we must keep our eyes on God and the mission given to us - to keep reaching for the stars and striving to brighten the darkest nights, even if the task appear insurmountable.