The New Shul

Parshat Ekev

In this week’s parashah, Ekev, Moshe says to the people: “You shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God. . . ” The ancient rabbis understood those words to refer to birkat hamazon, the blessings that we say after a meal.

At one level, the second half of Moshe’s sentence seems to follow naturally from the first. After enjoying God’s blessings, what could be more natural than saying thank you? But, as the S’fat Emet pointed out, we often do exactly the opposite. The more our needs are met, the easier it is to delude ourselves into thinking that we are self-sufficient. Often, the more we have, the less grateful we are.

So Moshe’s words — “You shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord. . . ” — must be understood in two different ways at the same time: First, that we should thank God because we are satisfied, and second, that we should thank God even though we are satisfied. Abundance brings with it a spiritual challenge that we must work hard to meet.

Shabbat can help us to meet that challenge. When we observe Shabbat by putting aside our work, it becomes almost impossible to feel self-sufficient. When we give up the illusion that we created our own blessings, we cannot help but feel grateful to the One who did create them. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, help to teach us about the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of gratefulness.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush this Shabbat is sponsored by Beth Jo Zeitzer and Adam Nach in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Beyond Bim Bom I, our learning service for grades K to 1, is from 10:15 to 11:00 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • This Sunday, August 12 from 11 am to 2 pm, The New Shul community will recruit stem-cell donors at the JCC’s Jewish Community Fair, in cooperation with the Be-The-Match Foundation. If you are able to help with that life-saving mitzvah, please let us know.
  • On Monday September 3, Labor Day, The New Shul community will serve meals to the hungry at St. Vincent de Paul’s Jackson St. dining room. Please let us know if you can help.
  • Join us for S’lihot on Saturday night, September 8.  We will begin with a screening and discussion of the film The Human Resources Manager by Eran Riklis (2010), as a text on teshuvah. The S’lihot service will follow at 11:30 pm.