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I love this forum because I learn too much with all you. One of the most enigmatic psukim in my view is Bereshit 28:14:

וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה וְנִבְרְכ֥וּ בְךָ֛ כׇּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָ֖ה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃ Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants.

First of all, it seems (Hashem yishmor) it never happened. Jewish people is historically very small in numbers. Currently, jewish population suffers a demographic crisis. Second, how exactly all the families in the world will be blessed through Jacobs' seed?

Thanks and Kol Tuv.

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    the Ohr Hachaim deals with your second question sefaria.org/…
    – rosends
    Mar 24, 2023 at 11:09
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    Better to split those two questions up into two posts, as the answers may be unrelated.
    – magicker72
    Mar 24, 2023 at 11:21
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    The blessings in Genesis for descendants of great numbers is sometimes expressed in dust of the earth and sometimes in stars of the sky. To say "it never happened" isn't really true since we already see in the Torah itself that by the time the Jews left Egypt the blessing had already come to fruition. See Deutoronomy 1:10 and 10:22 that "....you are today as numerous as the stars in the sky" and "....and now Hashem, your G-d has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky". The numbers are even larger nowadays than the approximately 600,000 adult males present at the time of the Exodus.
    – EraserX
    Aug 21, 2023 at 19:12
  • Of course there is still upside potential as it says in the very next verse after 1:10 above "May Hashem, the G-d of your forefathers, increase your numbers a thousandfold ......"
    – EraserX
    Aug 21, 2023 at 19:12
  • And when will this happen? -- When you do the first part and are humble like the dust of the earth etc. etc. as the commentators explain. Look again at the dust part. Dec 20, 2023 at 10:48

2 Answers 2

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According to the Sforno, this happens during the Messianic Era, when Moshiach comes:

Precisely when the Jewish people will have reached a seeming low point in their collective experience (downtrodden by the Egyptian taskmasters, or in later exiles) they will expand and become powerful in a measure never before seen on earth. ימה וקדמה צפונה ונגבה, when that time arrives Bileam’s prophecy in Numbers 24,17 וקרקר כל בני שת, “it will smash the foundation of all mankind.” The final redemption of the Jewish people will come after they have suffered the low point in their history.

The Rabbeinu Bahya explains what the meaning of "Your descendants shall be as the dusts of the earth". He explains that:

The reference to dust always evokes feelings of something low, something that one steps on, in other words a reference to periods when the Jewish people would be in exile, treated by their host countries as if they were merely dust to be walked on.

He goes further on to explain that:

As a result of stepping on dust, the dust frequently rises and covers the person who has stepped on it, or at least his feet. Thus, in due course, after completion of their various exiles the Jewish people will experience that they rise above those who had previously trodden upon them.

See Likutei Moharan for an explanation of dust.

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This text seems to indicate the need for an exile because how would they be scattered across the four cardinal points if they stayed in the land of Israel? The families of the land blessing each other perhaps indicates that where they are the rest will also be reached by blessings like the house of Laban, Laban did not want Jacob to leave because his prosperity would end with the departure of him and his God. As for the issue of demography, perhaps it is because they spent more time deviating from the law than fulfilling it, see that the blessings and curses listed in Deuteronomy 28 mention this issue of obeying the commandments.

And you will be left few in number, instead of having been like the stars of the heavens for multitude; because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 28:62

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