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.