SALT - Tuesday, 16 Iyar 5779 - May 21, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
This week's SALT shiurim are dedicated in memory of
David Moshe ben Harav Yehuda Leib Silverberg z"l,
whose yahrzeit is Thursday 18 Iyar, May 23
            The opening verses of Parashat Bechukotai describe the blessings promised to Benei Yisrael in reward for their compliance with God’s laws.  God assures the people that their obedience would be rewarded with material prosperity, an abundance of produce that would result in the harvest season extending into the new planting season.  The Torah then adds, “va-akhaltem lachmekhem la-sova” – “and you shall eat your bread to satiation” (26:5).  The plain meaning of the verse, of course, is that the people would be blessed with such prosperity that they would have enough food to eat to satiation, and not just enough to survive.
            Rashi, however, citing Torat Kohanim, explains, “One eats a morsel and it is blessed in his stomach.”  According to this reading, the phrase “va-akhaltem lachmekhem la-sova” blesses the people that they will feel satisfied with just a small amount of food, as even a small morsel would bring them satiation.
            What is the meaning of this Midrashic reading of God’s blessing?  If there is an abundance of food available, then why do we also need a blessing that we feel satisfied with a “morsel”?
            An increase in material prosperity generally results in an increase in material expectations.  The more we’re accustomed to having, the more we expect to always have – and so we are easily embittered and prone to feel deprived when our high expectations are not met.  Indeed, modern life has brought us standards of comfort, convenience, health and nourishment that previous generations could not even imagine – and yet, so many people today are unhappy and dissatisfied, because the great blessings we enjoy are not perceived as blessings, and so we constantly seek more and feel discontented with what we have.  We too often fail to acknowledge and appreciate the “morsels,” the small blessings of life, because we have come to expect large amounts and high standards – and we therefore feel dissatisfied, without appreciating how much we have.  The Midrash teaches that economic prosperity is not a blessing unless we can feel satisfaction with just a “morsel,” unless we can appreciate and enjoy each and every bit of goodness in our lives.  It is the satisfaction received by the “morsels” which allow us to truly enjoy the great bounty and blessings granted to us, as this ensures our ability to appreciate and celebrate our blessings without always desiring more.  Once we recognize the blessing of every morsel, we will always feel blessed, and material prosperity will not cause us continued dissatisfaction, and will instead truly be a blessing.