The New Shul

Parshat Ekev

In this week’s parashah, Ekev, Moshe promises 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 the fact is that we often behave in exactly the opposite way. The more fully 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 perhaps we should interpret Moshe’s words in a different way — not to mean that we should 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.” Abundance brings with it a spiritual challenge that we must work hard to meet. We must not allow our fullness to make us spiritually complacent.

Shabbat can help us to meet that challenge. In putting aside our work once a week, we give up the illusion that we created our own blessings. We recognize how dependent we are. In the process, we train ourselves in the art of gratitude. We reawaken our impulse to give thanks.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 am to about 11:45 am.This Shabbat, August 20, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Fran Richter in honor of her birthday.
  • Join us for The New Shul’s twentieth anniversary weekend, September 9 – 11. Our guest teacher for the weekend will be Rabbi Ed Feinstein. You can find a schedule of events here, plus links to register for the Friday night dinner and/or the Sunday reception.
  • Weekday minyanim at The New Shul are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm. Kabbalat Shabbat is on Friday evenings at 6 pm at our rabbis’ home (please contact us for directions)
  • Information on our services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here.