The New Shul

Parshat Ki Tavo

In this week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, Moshe explains to the Israelites that the manna that they have lived on for the past 40 years had an educational purpose. “You did not eat bread or drink wine. . . so that you would know that I am YHWH your God.” Most interpreters have understood this to mean that God made us live on manna — miracle food — so that we would come to understand that all food, like the manna, is a gift.

But some commentators interpret Moshe’s words to mean the opposite. God made us live on manna, not so that we would feel blessed, but so that we would feel deprived. God denied us bread and wine, the things that we craved, because people tend to be more open to God when they are feeling empty than when they are feeling full.

The two interpretations contradict each other, but there is a common thread between them. By either reading, manna served as an antidote to the illusion of self-sufficiency. It taught us that we human beings are fundamentally dependent. People come to God in one of two ways: through wonder and gratitude, or through yearning and need. Both involve abandoning our sense of mastery and entitlement. Whichever way we understand the meaning of the manna — as a spur to gratitude or as a corrective against pride — the manna taught us to look higher than ourselves.

May the awareness of our blessings, and of our deepest needs, help us in our work of change and growth in the coming days.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening September 1, is at 6:35 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 7:30 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. This Shabbat, September 2, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Charlie and Jackie Klein in honor of Charlie’s 75th birthday.
  • 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.
  • This Shabbat afternoon, August 26, at 6:30 pm, Rabbi Wasserman continues his series of classes on hasidic teachings on repentance. The class is at the Kanter/Wasserman home. Contact us for directions.
  • On Saturday night September 9 at 8:45 pm, join us for a pre-Slihot screening and discussion of the film “Sand Storm” (Elite Zexer 2016). The Sllihot service follows at about 10:45 pm.
  • Information on our services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here.