Let’s Talk About Gratitude

Between Us

This week’s parasha, Eikev, includes these words of caution: “When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to Adonai your God for the good land that God has given you….[When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses to live in, and your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold have increased, and everything you own has prospered, beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget Adonai your God, who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage,…and you say to yourselves, “My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me.” (Deuteronomy 8:10–14; 8:17)

According to this portion, when we have eaten our fill, we are commanded to be grateful. This is the basis of the Birkat HaMazon, “Grace after Meals”. More expansively, when we enjoy any of the comforts of our lives, we are to recognize that we are not solely responsible for what we achieve. This is a challenging concept for the modern age. After all, don’t we tell our children that if they study and work hard, they can “be anything they want to be”?   And when they achieve it, should they not look back and declare that their success is the result of all they have done?

Humility and perspective are the key teachings of this parasha. While we certainly are responsible for our successes (and failures), we are enjoined to remember how we got here. It is through the sacrifices of others and those we follow (the literal definition of eikev is “heel”, as in the story of how Yaakov followed Esau out of his mother’s womb by holding onto his heel) that we realize success. And just as we are commanded to be grateful about the food we are fortunate enough to eat, so too should we be humble and thankful for the achievements we are blessed with throughout our lives.



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