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Friday, July 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Va'eschanan

In next week's parsha we are warned not to mistakenly attribute our successes and accomplishments to our own power and might without giving proper recognition to HaShem who has granted us that power.(8:17-18) When we say in our heart kochi ve'otzem yadi - my power and the might of my hand have made me this wealth - we must remember that it is HaShem who gives us the power to make that wealth. The need for this warning is understandable as it is easy to get carried away with one's own accomplishments and forget the true source that made everything possible.

(Since we recently memorialized Rabbi Sholom Gold, z"l, I should mention an important perspective he would offer on the above, specifically addressing the way in which that phrase is overused to chide anyone glorifying the value of human might and ingenuity. The Torah is not stating that kochi ve'otzem yadi is an inherently evil standpoint. Rather, when one touts his own strength, it is imperative to recognize at the same time that HaShem is the ultimate source of that might.)

However, in this week's parsha we find a warning against a much more brazen form of forgetfulness. (6:10-12) HaShem will bring us to the land of Israel where we will find great cities which we did not build, houses full of plenty which we did not fill ourselves, hewn cisterns which we did not hew, vineyards and olive trees which we did not plant. Yet we are immediately warned to beware lest we forget HaShem who brought us out of Mitzrayim. This would seem, from our perspective, almost preposterous to suggest. Nevertheless, it would appear that it is part of the human condition that even while enjoying a plentiful bounty which we are fully aware was given to us as a gift, one can get so carried away that the Giver is forgotten.

Perhaps for this reason, this warning is immediately preceded by the first parsha of Shema. If it could be summarized, the message seems to be to surround ourselves with reminders of HaShem's Divine Providence and His Torah. We are to surround ourselves physically and temporally - in all places and at all times. From the moment we awake until we go to sleep, at home or on the road we must constantly remind ourselves. We adorn ourselves with reminders on our head and arms and on each doorpost in our home. The precise juxtaposition of the parshios is teaching us that the only true way to make sure never to forget is to constantly remind ourselves.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: You were shown

Dikdukian: Raise the Valleys

Al Pi Cheshbon: Moshe's Pleas

Al Pi Cheshbon: Gemtrias off by 1

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