The New Shul

Parshat Ekev

In this week’s parashah, Ekev, Moshe says to the children of Israel: “You shall eat and be satisfied and bless YHWH  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 we often respond in exactly the opposite way. 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 it may be helpful to interpret Moshe’s words in a different way — not to mean that we will thank God because we are full, but to mean that we should thank God despite our being full. “You shall eat and be satisfied, and[nevertheless] bless YHWH your God.” We must not allow our fullness to make us spiritually complacent. Abundance brings with it a spiritual challenge that we must work hard to meet.

Shabbat can help with that. 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.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, August 27, is sponsored by Tamar Allen, who is moving to Chicago to begin her pre-rabbinic studies.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Weekday minyanim at The New Shul are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, Wednesday mornings at 7 am and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • On Labor Day, Monday September 5, 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.
  • Information on The New Shul’s services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here.