26/27 August: Parsha Ekev

Shabbat comes in at 7.46 pm; goes out at 8.48 pm                        _____________________________________________________                

rabbipaulsml“And when the Lord your God has thrust them (the enemy) from your path, say not to yourselves, ‘The Lord has enabled us to possess this land because of our virtues.’

In Parshat Ekev, Moses warns against self-righteousness, i.e., that the Israelites might believe that a successful conquest is proof of how great they are. God makes it clear that instead, it is “because of the wickedness of those nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you” (Deut. 9:4).   The other nations deserved to be kicked off the land, but our victory was no proof of our righteousness.

I am reminded of how many athletes thank God when their team wins a match.  However, for example, God didn’t favour Watford this year because they are better people.  They may have trained harder, or gotten lucky.  The same is true for countries in war — I don’t believe that God favors India over Pakistan.  Similarly, it’s good for leaders to turn to God for moral instruction or strength, but it worth remembering that most countries believe that God is on their side.  As Bob Dylan sang:  “If God is [really] on our side, he’ll stop the next war.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

August 24, 2016