The New Shul

Parshat Ekev

In this week’s parashah, Ekev, Moses assures the children of Israel that, in the land that God has promised them, they will have plenty to eat:  “You shall eat and be satisfied and bless YHWH your God.” The sages of the Talmud understood those words as the basis for the mitzvah of reciting birkat hamazon, the blessing after meals.

Moses tells us that we will thank God because we are satisfied. But Rabbi Barukh of Medzibozh read his words the other way around:  We will be satisfied because we give thanks. It is not the food per se that makes us feel full, but the act of expressing gratefulness for it.

Rabbi Barukh’s point is that to feel blessed is a choice — or at least the direct result of a choice. When we make the decision to be thankful, a sense of fullness follows — as Ben Zoma taught in Pirkei Avot: “Who is rich? One who rejoices in what s/he has.” One of the functions of Jewish prayer is to cultivate that kind of joy, to discipline our souls toward gratefulness.

Even as we work to fix a broken world, may our prayers of thanksgiving teach us how blessed we are.

  • 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. This Shabbat, August 24, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Allison Levine. The desserts will be sponsored by Fran Richter.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 pm.