SALT - Sunday, 17 Av 5776 - August 21, 2016

  • Rav David Silverberg

            In Parashat Eikev, Moshe tells Benei Yisrael of the great qualities of the Land of Israel, contrasting the conditions they will soon enjoy after crossing into the land with the harsh conditions of the wilderness they had just traversed.  Moshe makes reference in this context to the presence of iron and copper: “…a land whose stones are iron, and from whose mountains you shall hew copper” (8:9).  The Ramban explains that Moshe informed the people of the availability of these resources in Eretz Yisrael “which are a vital need for the residents of the land.”  Moshe mentioned iron and copper because of their particular importance, emphasizing that just as God miraculously provided the people with their needs in the wilderness, He was now bringing them to a place that can naturally sustain them and provide them with what they need.

            The Ramban then cites the preceding phrase in this verse – “lo techsar kol bah” (“it is not lacking anything”) – and comments, “[the lack of] resources of silver and gold is not a deficiency in the land.”  It appears that the Ramban here implicitly addresses the question of how Moshe could claim that the land lacks “nothing,” when it does not contain precious metals like silver and gold.  The answer to this question, the Ramban seems to be saying, is that Moshe speaks of resources that are needed for living, and not luxuries.  He speaks in praise of Eretz Yisrael for containing everything that serves “a vital need for the residents of the land,” despite the fact that it does not necessarily offer all amenities that people crave. 

            The lesson that emerges from the Ramban’s comments (as noted by Rav Shmuel Alter in Likutei Batar Likutei) is that we need to learn to distinguish between necessity and luxury.  The Ramban emphasizes that Eretz Yisrael is praised for its properties that offered Benei Yisrael everything they needed, even though they did not offer everything Benei Yisrael would have wanted.  And this observation made about Eretz Yisrael can be made about life generally.  We should be grateful and able to “praise” our lives when we have what we need, even if we do not have everything we want.  Just as Eretz Yisrael is described as a land that “lacks nothing,” even though it lacked luxuries, our lives, too, can be joyously celebrated for “lacking nothing” even when we still have many wishes unfulfilled.