In Parshat Ekev Moshe reiterates G-d’s assurances and perils based on His people doing what’s required and expected of them. Moshe declares that “G-d, your G-d is the G-d of gods and Lord of lords, the great mighty and awesome G-d…”, and in the very next Passuk (verse) follows that with “He executes judgment of the orphan and widow, loves the stranger, to give him bread and clothing” (10:17-18). Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wonders why such a grand statement is followed by a very specific statement in striking contrast, applicable to so few.
Rabbi Sacks explains that G-d’s greatness is followed by His humility to teach us that greatness and humility must go hand in hand. You can’t be great without being humble, without thinking of those less fortunate or those that are forgotten.
With a careful reading of the Pessukim (verses), one can take this lesson a step further: To love, feed and clothe a stranger is required to not simply be aware of their predicament, but to understand their need, appreciate their situation and empathize with their plight. Greatness requires appreciating the circumstances of strangers among us and even more empathy for the non-strangers in our lives.