Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Eikev - 5777

Dear friends,

In this week's portion Eikev, Moses continues to encourage the Israelites that, even after entering the Promised Land and becoming prosperous and successful, they should not forget G-d's relationship with the people of Israel that was based on love. Therefore, they should continue to show love to G-d by keeping His laws. Moses tells the people that they should always remember the forty-year journey through the wilderness where, even under the harsh conditions of the desert, they survived because G-d provided them with all they needed: sufficient water and their daily bread in the form of Manna.

The familiar verse, "man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the L-rd decrees" (Deuteronomy 8:3) is the lesson that Moses wants the Israelites to take from this extraordinary feat. Rabbi Shlomo Raskin points our the very interesting Aramaic translation for this verse in the Targum Unkelos. It translates the verse this way: "Man is not sustained by bread alone, but that man shall live on anything that the L=rd decrees." The same Hebrew word 'yihyeh', shall live, is translated in two ways: bread for sustenance, but the word of G-d for living.

We can, perhaps, learn from this verse what the purpose of human's endeavors for living is. Is it just so that one can provide for oneself and his/her family with sustenance, clothing and shelter, the three musts in order to exists, or is life more than just pursuing the achievement of those needs? Is there 'lechem', bread for sustenance and 'lechem', food for the spirit also? Do we show appreciation to the Creator and offer grace before and after partaking from G-d's gifts to us? Do we help feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter to the homeless, as we work to fulfill those needs for ourselves? Do we stop and thank G-d for what we have and enjoy what we have, before rushing to accumulate even more? Is our goal to make a living or to live? It would be very sad if one would spend a lifetime making a living but forgetting to live.

G-d gave us Shabbat and holidays so that we might stop thinking about the 'daily bread' and enjoy what we have. That is the purpose of the 'Lechem Mishne' - the double portion of Manna - that was provided on Fridays so that people can devote Shabbat to enjoying what they have and concentrating on spiritual activities. That is the meaning of the verse, "man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the Lrd decrees."

A wise man once said: "In running to make a living, don't forget to stop and live." Enjoy what you have, count your blessings and share with others.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram