Research has shown that the most commonly used emoji is the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji, which is used to express laughter and humor. I would like to suggest that this applies to the secular world; however, in the Jewish world, the most commonly used emoji is – or should be! – the “Thumbs up” emoji. Why is that exactly? Good question.

The human being has 5 fingers; pinky, ring, middle, pointer, and thumb. The thumb is referred to in the Talmud as well as other Rabbinic writings as a גודל/אגודל, which comes from the meaning גדול, great and large.

Indeed, the thumb is the thickest of all fingers, thus making it the largest finger on the human hand. And, quite incredibly, the thumb is the greatest finger of all five. Why? Because it represents the Jewish people!

The Midrash Tanchuma (Ki Savo 4) makes a pun on the Targumim’s translation of the word bohen (thumb) as ilyon/alyon. The Midrash says that when the Jewish people follow the commandments of Hashem, then Hashem promises to make them עליון (elyon) above all nations. Thus, Hashem will make the Jewish people like an ilyon (or thumb), which is higher up than the other four fingers.

The other four fingers correspond to the Four Kingdoms (Babylonia, Persia/Media, Greece, and Rome). When the Jewish people are doing what is proper in the eyes of Hashem, then the “hand” is twisted up – like a THUMB’S UP – and the Jewish people are on top; however, if chas v’shalom, the Jewish people are not doing what is proper, the “hand” faces down – like a thumb’s down – and the Jewish people are on bottom, at the mercy of the nations!

The Ben Ish Chai points out something amazing. If you notice, the thumb only has two knuckles (joints) whereas the other 4 fingers each have 3. This is not a coincidence. The nations of the world – compared to the 4 fingers – each have their own angel/ruler (a sar) that governs over them. Each of these nations has an intermediary between them and G-d. However, not so when it comes to the Jewish people, as symbolized by the thumb, which only has two knuckles. The Jewish people have no intermediary; our connection with G-d is direct.
At the end of Parshas Behar (25:55), the Torah tells us: כִּֽי־לִ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ עֲבָדִ֔ים עֲבָדַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיכֶֽם – “For the children of Israel are slaves to Me. They are My slaves, who I took out of the land of Egypt. I am G-d, your G-d.”

We are G-d’s slave. We are G-d’s slave. Repeat this over and over. We are like the thumb; we are the Thumb’s Up Nation. The nation of the גודל; a nation of true greatness, indeed.

Let us realize that we are special because of our direct connection that we have with the Master of the Universe. Nothing – indeed, nothing! – gets in the way between us and our Creator.

🔥Have a holy Shabbos!