eek's Torah reading:
: Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
, is centered on blessings and our relationship to the Land of Israel. Israelites are told that once they cross the River Jordan to settle the land, if they will follow the ways that God has commanded for them, the land will be filled with blessings. "God will bless the issue of your womb and the produce of your soil....in the land that God swore to your ancestors to assign to you." (Deut 7:13). It is up to the Israelites to gain from the lessons that they learned during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, as "The Lord Your God is bringing you into a good land with streams and springs...a land of wheat and barley, vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey." (Deut 8: 7 - 9 ).
These seven species (honey refers to the honey of dates) are regarded as the seven delicacies that bless the land of Israel. Seven is a number in Judaism that represents completeness, such as the seven days of creation or the seven blessings found in the wedding ceremony. These seven items that are produced from the earth remind us that the land has the potential to give us a truly abundant blessing.
The Torah is putting before us a great challenge. There are blessings all around us, though we don't always notice them. Blessings however, like these seven species, need cultivation. We cannot assume that the blessings in our lives will always grow on their own. How then do we cultivate our blessings? The answer given in
is by sanctifying them with the observance of
. Observing the commandments becomes a way for us to cultivate our souls. As we head into the time of year when the nights are getting cooler, and the High Holidays are fast approaching, take time to not only be aware of your blessings, but to cultivate them and help them grow. In doing this we ensure that our blessings can attain the beauty and richness, the completeness, of the fruits of the land of Israel.
Rabbi Steven Kane