On a Hill in Philadelphia Looking Far Eastward

Rabbi Joshua Bolton
December 2, 2013
Share:email print

There are peoples on this earth who better embody the promise made to Avraham and his children, that they would be made “exceedingly numerous” (Gen. 17:2).

There are peoples who resemble the stars of the nighttime sky – uncountable.


I stand on a hill in Philadelphia toward evening, staring eastward – beyond the setting sun – far eastward. I begin to hear the rush of a billion lives. A billion dinners prepared. A billion shoe laces being tied. A billion groans at night. A billion doors creaking open, gently clicked shut.

Back on this hill, I am undetectable. My voice is barely a voice. Were I to scream to hundreds, even thousands at a single moment, it would be a quiet whisper against the roaring noise of life.

A stupendously huge array of lives – as vast as the stars of the nighttime sky.

I begin to slip off into oblivion as the Psalmist’s voice speaks. (The Psalmist speaks best inside moments like this).

“God counts the number of the stars, and to each, God gave its name” (Ps. 147:4).


There is an immense intimacy to uttering a blessing.

In the midst of billions and billions of voices – all chattering and grunting and singing – God inclines God’s ear to listen to each. It’s everyone’s mystery.

I stand on a hill in Philadelphia – it is nighttime now – overwhelmed by all we hold in two hands. In the one, the vastness, the hugeness, the billions. In the other, the privacy of my holy, little conversation.

Certainly, there is an obligation to speak.

More certain, there is the immense pleasure of speaking.

Share:email print

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>