Posted on August 18, 2022
By Ginny MacDowell, Development Trustee
In the Parshah of Eikev (“Because”), Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, promising them that if they will fulfill the commandments or mitzvot of the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to conquer and settle in keeping with G-d’s promise to their forefathers.
Moses also rebukes them for their failings in their first generation as a people, recalling their worship of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Korach, the sin of the spies, their angering of G-d But he also speaks of G-d’s forgiveness of their sins, and the Second Tablets which G-d inscribed and gave to them following their repentance. Moses continues with his speech to the Israelites, “It will come to pass as a result of your hearing these Ten Commandments and carrying them out with care, that God will keep with you this covenant. God will love you and bless you and multiply you. God will bless the fruit of your body, your soil, grain, wine, oil and animals. You will be blessed more than all the peoples.”
“But,” Moses warns, “you will have to annihilate many people; your eye shall not feel any mercy for them–so that you will not serve their gods–for this is a trap for you. Don’t fear them, for God, your God, is a great and awesome God. God will deliver them up before you and you shall destroy them. The images of their gods shall burn in fire. Do not lust after the silver and the gold that is upon them and take it for yourself, for it is an abomination to God.
“Remember the entire path along which God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness. God let you go hungry, then gave you manna in order to have you know that it is not by bread alone that man can make a life for himself, but that man can live by everything that comes from God. Moses continues, “And keep the commandments to walk in God’s ways and to fear God. For your God is bringing you into a good land, a land in which you will lack for nothing. When you eat and are satisfied, then bless God for the good land that God has given you.
After reading and thinking about all of that, it gave me pause as I tried to figure out what did I actually understand, does it have an effect on my life or family today and what does it mean that ‘man can live by everything that comes from God’? Is that true today? Do we actually think that is true today?
I am not a very religious Jew – I would describe myself as a more spiritual Jew. And yes, I believe in God. I always have except for a short time when I was being confirmed by Rabbi Roland Gittlesohn of Temple Israel in Boston and we had to study a book, probably not in publication any more, Little Lower Than the Angels. That confused me and I questioned the existence of God.
My parents of blessed memory would certainly have questioned the statement that ‘man can live by everything that comes from God’ having lost their only son, my brother Randy, at the tender age of 13 in 1963. How do you live with that loss? How do you continue to have belief in God or a higher power that would ‘allow’ that to happen? They didn’t. They stopped going to synagogue for a long time. And they questioned the validity of God. But and it’s a big BUT, they did not lose their way. And the message they chose to share was one of acceptance. It was a strong message and actually one where they eventually embraced God again. Maybe not fully, but enough to set an example of strength and love and family and, yes, of acceptance.
So here we are today. Accepting what is placed in front of us. Not always happy with the outcomes. But we are strong and we persevere and we are family and community. My mom always said be thankful for the difficult times because during those times you grow. And be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and character. Soooo, is the statement ‘man can live by everything that comes from God’ true?
I don’t know. Do you?