It is wonderful to be back at Shaarei Kodesh!
I had a wonderful month away and I'm grateful for the time our congregation afforded me.
As I return to Shaarei Kodesh this Shabbat, I am also celebrating a personal milestone, my 40th birthday.
Birthdays are very special in Judaism,
a topic I will be teaching about in my lunch and learn on Shabbat
They give us an opportunity to reflect back on our lives, take stock of what we have amassed or lost, and we are left with two choices:
do we look back with regret, or do we look back in gratitude?
Gratitude seems like the obvious choice, but how many of us look back and say to ourselves:
if only I had received the promotion...if only our house were a little bigger...if only I went on that vacation I wanted to go on...?
Our parashah, Ekev gives us an alternative.
In our parashah, God and Moses prepare the people to go into the land.
Something we have to keep in mind is that they are speaking to a generation who has been 'landless'.
Their parents were slaves in Egypt, and all this generation knows is the wilderness, a nomadic life style.
All their food and water was provided to them from God, but as they are about to enter the land, they will ultimately have to produce their own food and become land owners.
We read the following in Deuteronomy 8:10
'When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the LORD your God for the good land which God has given you.'
This pasuk/line is the basis for the Birkhat HaMazon prayer, the prayer we saw after we eat food. It is a three part process: you will eat, then, ultimately, your hunger will be satiated and you will become satisfied, then, it is your sacred obligation to bless the food you just enjoyed. Think about this: how many of us like to pay the bill after we have eaten? We are satisfied, until we receive the bill, then we think about all the things that may not have been so delicious. As we expand this idea, we have to ask ourselves, what great blessings in our lives do we overlook because something else has gone wrong? It is easy to overlook good health when one is healthy. It is easy to overlook the blessing of having family close by when we so them so often. It is easy to overlook the blessing of a quiet evening in a busy week.
Gratitude is not something that comes naturally to us. Gratitude is a muscle, and it must be stretched and strengthened like all our other muscles.
This Shabbat, which corresponds to my birthday, I hope to show gratitude to all of you for this last decade; our time at Shaarei Kodesh, the milestones we experienced as a family and as a community.
Join us on Friday night for a musical Shabbat with Rabbi Paskin followed by a delicious Shabbat dinner
Join us on Shabbat morning at 9:30 am
Sermon Topic: Jewish Loyalty
The Jewish community in America's loyalty has been questioned by politicians on the left and the right. It isn't the first time this has happened in our history, and it won't be the last. What does loyalty mean to us as Jews? We will glean lessons from our parashah and history.
Lunch and Learn Following Services:
Celebrating Our Birthdays - Reviewing Our Sacred Journeys: The Past, Present and Future for Us and Our Community
As we journey to Parashat Ekev, let us return to the concept of gratitude, let us all stretch our gratitude muscles, and ask ourselves, how can we help each other notice the blessings in your lives?
I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and I look forward to being back at Shaarei Kodesh for this Shabbat and many more to come.
Rabbi David Baum