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“V’achalta v’savata u’veirachta et Adonai Elohecha…you will eat and be satisfied and bless Adonai your God” we read in this week’s Torah portion…flipping the conventional script upon its head. Soloveitchik teaches that prayer is the act of insubstantial person, lacking the wherewithal to subsist, appearing before God upon whom existence depends. Yet here it is suggested that true blessing is only offered from a position of fulfillment and comfort.
Talmud futher debates this point. In the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 31a, it is taught from Hanna’s prayer that an inebriated person is forbidden to pray. Yet in the Jerusalem Talmud, Terumot 1:4, we learn the opposite: one who is drunk can and must recite birkat hamazon, the blessing after meals.
It is a lesson we are to learn throughout this week’s portion, Eikev. Manna, the sustenance our ancestors at in the desert, is described as a test. Why? It is easy to cry out to God from the depths of our distress, to focus on our highest values when they are all we have. But when our needs have been met? When our material abundance has increased? When we believe life is going well? Acting in a God-like fashion, living by the commandments, becomes considerably more difficult in times of perceived prosperity.
“V’achalta v’savata u’veirachta et Adonai Elohecha…you will eat and be satisfied and bless Adonai your God” a reminder of who we need to be in times of plenty as well as times of scarcity.