Times: Shabbat starts tonight with candle lighting at 5:16pm, and ends Saturday night at 6:16pm. The weekly Torah portion is Ekev, and Shabbat Mevarchim Elul, with Rosh Chodesh is next Shabbat & Sunday.

Mincha in the CBD: Whisky and Kugel Fridays is on today at 1.00pm using the SMS system to confirm numbers. Mincha (Mon-Fri) continues next week at 1.00pm with the SMS reminder.

Study: The Wednesday shiur & lunch continues this week at Billing Bureau, following 1.00pm mincha.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Rebbetzin Althea Mirvis. “… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Devarim 8:3 (this week’s Torah reading)

We make a very strange blessing thanking G-d before eating bread:
“Baruch Ata… Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz”
“Blessed are You…Who brings forth bread from the earth”

Would it not be more appropriate to describe G-d as ‘Who gives wheat to man to form bread’ or “Who empowers man to bake bread”? The image of bread coming straight out of the ground just doesn’t seem to stack up with reality. Contrast this with the blessing on fruit, where we bless G-d as “Creator of the fruit of the tree”. Here, we can obviously attribute the greatness of a piece of fruit – in all its glorious taste and design – to G-d. But when it comes to bread, is it not the work of man? After all, we are the ones who work hard to sow, harvest, grind, knead, form, and bake. Isn’t the credit here is mostly ours, with G-d just providing the raw materials?

It’s precisely at this pinnacle of our sense of pride and self-sufficiency that we are at risk of forgetting G-d and believing that we alone are responsible for our achievements. When we form raw materials into sophisticated creations is when most feel a sense of our own greatness. And this is when we can so easily forget our Creator, and how we are dependent upon His kindness.

To be a Jew is to be humble, to start each day with the words ‘Modah/Modeh Ani’ (‘I thank’), and to recognise His hand in every breath and heartbeat of our very existence. To see G-d’s hand in fashioning the fruit of the tree is no great discovery or innovation. But true gratitude and humility comes when we recognise G-d as being “Hamotzi lechem min haaretz”; when we see His hand in sustaining us and enabling our every achievement, and acknowledge Him not just in the raw materials, but in the finished product.

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