Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Eikev - 5776

My friends,

This week we read the third portion in the Book of Devarim, which contains Moses' farewell speech to his people. Besides recalling events of the past forty years, he reminds them of the importance of keeping the laws once they enter the Promised Land.

In Chapter 5 he states his fears that, maybe once they enter the land and become prosperous, they might forget G-d and His commandments. They may believe that all their successes come from their hard work rather than from G-d's blessings. When they amass wealth of all kinds, they might forget to thank G-d, and will say to themselves, "My own power and the strength of my own hand have won this wealth for me." That kind of attitude will show that they had forgotten G-d, and will most likely become like the Canaanites and the other people who still dwell in the Promised Land. They will be influenced by these nations and will begin to live like them and worship their idols.

I believe that the verse "Kohi veotzem Yadi" - "My own power and the strength of my own hand" is an important lesson for us in all of our endeavors. Yes, it is wonderful to be proud of one's accomplishments; however, where does G-d fit in our life? Do we express gratitude to G-d for our success and good fortune? For the abilities He gave us which enabled us to be successful? Or do we only turn to G-d to complain or pray for better things when we fail?

Moses reminds us "VEACHALTA VESAVATA UVERACHTA" - "When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the L-rd your G-d for the good land which he has given you." This has become the basis for Birkat Hamazon, the grace after eating a meal.

Sometimes in our dealings with others we take credit for ourselves when things go well, but then we look for a scapegoat when things don't go too well - we look for someone to blame. This parasha teaches us to be humble and always show gratitude to G-d for our health, our family, our friends and our success.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram