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Congregation Or Shalom
835 Darby Paoli Road
Berwyn, PA 19312
Tel: 610-644-9086


Kami Knapp Schechter

Andrew Levin

Education Director:
Larisa Averbakh

Office Manager:
Lauren Porter

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Dvar August 23 2019 and 24 2019

Saturday August 24, Eikev

As you may know, we are steadily approaching the High Holidays. Our time of reflection, repentance, repair, and renewal. Many people wonder: how do I do this work? The concepts are great but how, tachlis, do I do it? I was inspired this week to start a series of dvars, leading up to Rosh Hashanah where we will explore different ways to engage and cultivate the concepts we are meant to engage in during the month of Elul and during the High Holidays.

Our Parsha this week: Eikev introduces us to Birkat HaMazon and the concept of praising G-d for giving us food and sustenance.

דברים ח׳:י׳

וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ עַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָךְ.

Deuteronomy 8:10

And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.

This week I want to focus on blessings and how the simple act of acknowledging blessings can help us renew and repair for the upcoming high holidays.

Birkat HaMazon and Blessings:

Some ideas for cultivating acknowledgment of blessings during the upcoming month of Elul and the High Holidays:

Learn and recite Birkat HaMazon (even just one blessing that sticks out to you)

Just say thank you before you eat

Acknowledge/ take a minute to think of all those who were involved in bringing this food to you

General blessings: 

Try and see the blessing in all situations

When you notice a blessing, whether it’s a teaching, a gift, an awareness, etc say thank you- out loud

Abraham Joshua Heschel, God In Search of Man, p.49

The sense for the “miracles which are daily with us,” the sense for the “continual marvels,” is the source of prayer. There is no worship, no music, no love, if we take for granted the blessings or defeats of living. No routine of the social, physical, or physiological order must dull our sense of surprise at the fact that there is a social, a physical, or a physiological order. We are trained in maintaining our sense of wonder by uttering a prayer before the enjoyment of food. Each time we are about to drink a glass of water, we remind ourselves of the eternal mystery of creation, “Blessed be Thou…by Whose word all things come into being.” A trivial act and a reference to the supreme miracle. Wishing to eat bread or fruit, to enjoy a pleasant fragrance or a cup of wine; on tasting fruit in season for the first time; on seeing a rainbow, or the ocean; or noticing trees when they blossom; on meeting a sage in Torah or in secular learning; on hearing good or bad tidings – we are taught to invoke His great name and our awareness of Him. Even on performing a physiological function we say “Blessed be Thou…who healest all flesh and doest wonders.”

This is one of the goals of the Jewish way of living: to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to feel the hidden love and wisdom in all things.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement… get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.