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Many moments of marvel, wonder and awe

08/01/2018 03:45:43 PM


By Mary Jane Suzman

In our Torah portion this week, Ekev, God promises to bring the Israelites to a good land, “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” He adds “you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God for the good land that He has given you.” This is the basis for our practice of grace after meals. The Sages of the Talmud extend the commandment to include also the blessing before meals.

Ritually observant Jews offer blessings many times a day. There is a blessing for bread, for non-bread foods made of grain, for wine, tree-fruit, fruit from the earth. There are blessings for fragrances, flowers, herbs, seeing a rainbow and having your soul returned to you in the morning. And there is an all-inclusive blessing: “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, by Whose word all things came to be.”
For thoughtful observant Jews, saying these blessings can bring to them the presence of God; there is great power in the ritual words. But what about the rest of us? In our broad spectrum of faith stances and ritual observance, most of us do not say most of the blessings. Can we nonetheless partake of the vision in our Torah text? Can we access the tradition in such a way that it changes the way we see the world and enriches our lives?
Perhaps we can take time in contemplating the apple and the flower to acknowledge that, however they got here, we did not make them ourselves. Perhaps our tradition can encourage us to look more deeply into the ordinary things of our world and seek the infinite within them. Perhaps we can strive for a moment – many moments - of marvel, of wonder and of awe.
May Jane Suzman is a member of Temple Shalom.

If interested in reading further texts and discussing the subject of “blessings," come to Torah study this Saturday morning! It meets about 9:40, after the morning service, in room 101. Informal, free and includes a breakfast snack.

Thu, November 14 2019 16 Cheshvan 5780