Monthly Archives: August 2015

Aug 13

Shabbat – 7th/8th August 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

A man is driving in the city, looking for a parking spot. For several minutes, he is unsuccessful. He is running late for his meeting and getting more frustrated by the minute. Finally, he prays to God: “God, if you provide me with parking spot, I promise I will dedicate more time to study, I will go to shul more often, I will donate even more money to charity and I will start keeping kosher.” A few moments later, a parking spot appears. Elated the man says, “Never mind God, I found a spot.”

While amusing, I think this story highlights a fundamental truth, that we humans will blame God when things do not go so well, but usually not thank God when things go well. Parashat Eikev, this week’s parasha has Moses exhorting the people to try and combat this natural tendency; “…beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery” (Deut. 8:14). How many times in the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert do we see them quickly forget the power and awesome might of God? Immediately after the miracle of the Red Sea, they are complaining about the lack of water and wishing to return to Egypt, or directly following the revelation at Mount Sinai, they complain about a lack of meat. One would think that God has earned a little benefit of the doubt, but the Israelites do not grant it.

Our faith is not a static thing and it must be tested and questioned, but Moses is begging the people to remember to at least make it a fair test, a balanced trial, as should we. Let us not only recall the tragedies and misfortunes that befall us when questioning our faith, but the joys and blessings as well.

Aug 07

Shabbat – 17th/18th July 2015

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

We read about the land that Israelites are about to conquer in Canaan and how it will be apportioned.  At the end of the description two tribes, Reuben and Gad, propose to Moses that they be allowed to remain behind.  What is interesting about their request is the language they use.  “We will build here sheepfolds for our flocks and towns for our children.  And we will hasten as shock-troops in the van of the Israelites until we have established them in their home, while our children stay in the fortified towns because of the inhabitants of the Land.  We will not return to our homes until every one of the Israelites is in possession of his portion.  But we will not have a share with them in the territory beyond the Jordan, for we have received our share on the east side of the Jordan.”

What is so striking is the highlighted language.  That in spite of all the exhorting of Moses to create a unified people, on the eve of the settling of the land, two tribes have separated themselves from the whole.  We learn, at this period of history that we are commemorating, the reason for the calamity that befell us was because of the hatred within ourselves, the fracturing of our nation into individual units only concerned with their personal or selfish needs.

When we lose our cohesion, we lose our connection with one another; when we lose our purpose, we are nothing more than a pack of individuals that will destroy ourselves.  Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy.  Moses comes to remind us in response to the tribes, not once but twice, that we are not twelve tribes or six hundred thousand individuals, but one nation, united in purpose and vision.  When we lose sight of that, disaster always follows.