Friday, August 15, 2014

“Enough” - Torah Thoughts on Eikev

This week’s Torah portion, Eikev, (Deut. 7:12 – 11:25) contains a verse used in the liturgy of the grace after meals.  The Jewish tradition is to say a very short grace before meals—a simple nine-word blessing over bread—and a very long one at the conclusion of the meal.  And the prooftext – the Biblical justification for grace after meals—translates to English as “When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to Adonai your God for the good land given to you” (Deut. 8:10).  But the English doesn’t quite give the same sense as the Hebrew.

The Hebrew word “Sova” means “satiety”.    We are not enjoined to eat every morsel we possibly can, but until we have had enough, until we are satisfied.  Today we live in a world where things to eat are all around us, advertised on television, the internet, billboards and magazines.  It is all too easy to overindulge, to eat far beyond the point we are satisfied.  

And it’s not just about eating.  Our society encourages us to want more and more of everything.  What is enough to satisfy us?  The dream house?  The ideal job?  The perfect lover?  How do we know a better one won’t come along tomorrow?  

One of the many teachings this verse brings is to remind us to be satisfied with “enough”, and to give thanks for its blessings.

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