||Below is this week’s Shabbat Shalom Weekly, which I have been sending out for the last 26 years. There are 5 short sections:
1. Insights into personal growth and life, or an upcoming holiday.
2. A quick overview of the Torah portion of the Week.
3. A short Dvar Torah, a lesson for life learned from a verse in the weekly Torah portion
4. Candlelighting times around the world
5. Quote of the week. (Some people subscribe just for the quote; many people read it first.)
I hope that you will tremendously enjoy, find insight and be uplifted each week! Subscribe for free.
Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)
GOOD MORNING! What is true spirituality? My beloved friend, Rabbi Avraham Goldhar, who has a revolutionary approach to helping kids get better grades with less study time in both secular and Jewish studies (GoldharMethod.com) came up with the following paradigm of attributes to clarify the definition of spirituality. Put a check mark by one attribute from each pair that you think is more spiritual:
Now, if you want to try something interesting, put an “x” mark by each attribute that you associate with the Jewish people.
What is fascinating is that most people associate spirituality with emotion, kindness, solitude, nature, and serenity … and the Jewish people with intellect, justice, community, God, and challenge. The reason is that we have an Eastern notion of spirituality — an all encompassing emotional bliss connecting with the universe. The Jewish approach to spirituality is based on fulfilling a purpose, to fix the world (tikun olom) — which requires intellect, justice, community, God, and challenge.
For the Jew, intellect is to be channeled into emotion – emotions can’t rule you; you must do the right thing. Justice provides for a world of kindness. A society has to be willing to identify rights and wrongs and stand up to evil. If not, one can attempt to do kindness, but end up enabling evil. Community provides you with an understanding of who you are – a member of a people – even when you are alone, you are still part of something more. Realizing that there is a Creator and having a relationship with the Creator makes the natural much more profound. This world is a veiled reality with the Creator behind it. People can only receive serenity when they live up to their challenges; otherwise, they are tormented in their pursuit of serenity by not living up to their potential.
There was once a Jewish girl who stopped in Israel on her way to India to seek spirituality. Friends suggested that she go to Neve Yerushalayim to take a class and give Judaism one last shot before seeking other pathways to spirituality. The one class happened to be studying the laws regarding returning a lost item — when is an item considered lost, what if the person gave up hope of its return, what constitutes a legitimate identifying mark to claim the item, to what extent and cost of time and money are you obligated for returning the item… The girl was furious! This is NOT spirituality. She left in a huff and headed off to India.
Six months later she and her guru were discussing a philosophical matter while walking through the village. They came upon a wallet filled with rupees. The guru picked it up, put it in his pocket and continued on with his point. The girl interrupted him and asked, “Aren’t you going to see if there is identification in the wallet to return it?” The guru replied, “No. It was his karma that he lost it; it’s my karma that I found it. It’s mine.” The girl implored, “But, he might have a large family and that might be his monthly earnings … they could starve if you don’t return it!” The guru responded, “That is their karma.”
The young lady then remembered the class she took in Jerusalem – and realized that spirituality without justice, kindness, and concern for others is just a false spiritual high, corrupt emotion. She returned to Jerusalem and ultimately returned to her Torah heritage.
The Torah gives us great insight on spirituality. The Almighty appears to Avraham on the third day following his Bris Mila (circumcision of the covenant). In the middle of their conversation, Avraham sees three men approaching and wishes to offer hospitality. He says to the Almighty, “My Lord, if I have found favor in Your eyes, do not go away from Your servant” (Genesis 18:3). Avraham is asking the Almighty to “wait on hold” while he goes to take care of three mortals? How can this be? What can be greater spirituality than talking with God?
The answer is given in the Talmud (Shevuos 35b, Shabbos 127a), “Hospitality to travelers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence” — better to be like God than to talk with God! Better to take responsibility for the world and its inhabitants, than to commune with God. That is true spirituality … to be God-like — and that is why one needs intellect, justice, community, God, and challenge if one truly wants genuine spirituality!
Aikev, Deuteronomy 7:12 -11:25
Moshe continues his discourse guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success, lest we forget and ignore God.
Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness (“Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to occupy this land … but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you”). He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf).
This week’s portion dispels a common misconception. People think that “Man does not live by bread alone” means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, “Man does not live by bread alone … but by all that comes out of God’s mouth” (Deut. 8:3).
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you? “Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God’s commandments and decrees … so that all good will be yours” (Deut. 10:12).
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
“And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Almighty, your God, for the good land which He gave you. Guard yourself lest you forget the Lord, your God, and do not observe His commandments and His laws and His statutes which I command you this day” (Deut 8:10-11).
What lesson for life are we to learn from the juxtaposition of these two verses?
In the blessings we make after eating a meal, in addition to thanking the Almighty for the land of Israel, the Sages have included thanking Him for the Covenant with Him and for the Torah which He gave us. This ensures that we focus on a Higher level, rather just the food and materialism — which would cause us to forget the Almighty.
Therefore, this is the lesson we learn from the juxtaposition of these two verses: If you will eat and are satisfied and bless the Almighty for just the land itself — then (verse 11) you must be on guard not to forget the Almighty and His commandments (Chasam Sofer; Toras Moshe). When you eat in order to live and live in order to do good deeds, then your eating is elevated to a spiritual level!
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Guatemala 6:02 – Hong Kong 6:31 – Honolulu 6:37
J’Burg 5:34 – London 7:49 – Los Angeles 7:13
Melbourne 5:33 – Mexico City 7:41 – Miami 7:31
New York 7:25 – Singapore 6:54 – Toronto 7:51
If you want happiness —
don’t seek happiness.
In honor of our parents
Harold & Myra Cohen
for their recent birthdays
David & Joel Cohen
With Deep Appreciation to
Jack N. Gross
In Loving Memory of
Dr. Brian Galbut
With Special Thanks to