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July 26, 2002 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-26

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Torah Portion

Hunger For God Requires
Mitzvot In Face Of Misery

the presence of life-denying experi-
ences, by showing our gratitude for
the material blessings we have
received. The Birkat HaMazon
(grace after meals) prayer is an
example — in other words, by
allowing God to enter our lives
when we are hungry and when we
... that God might test you ... He
are satiated.
And there is another hunger
subjected you to the hardship of
implied in our Torah portion: the
hunger and then gave you manna to
hunger for meaning and purpose.
eat to teach you that man does not
Rabbi Harold Kushner has written:
live in bread alone." (Deuteronomy
"We are afraid of never having
8:2-4)
lived, of coming to the end
of our days with the sense
he image and
that we were never really
reality of hunger
alive.
provides many
"Of all the fears that
profound les-
haunt us, there is nothing
sons. Hunger is a need, a
to compare with fear that
driving force, and a world-
we may have wasted our
wide challenge.
lives with nothing to show
Hunger is also the
for it."
recognition that there is
To satisfy this hunger,
much more for us to do to
RABBI
our
tradition teaches we
alleviate the pain and frus-
NORMAN T.
can
choose life and work
tration of our society not-
ROMAN
for
the
improvement of
yet redeemed. For there are
Special to the
society.
We can volunteer,
other hungers, besides the
Jewish News
be a better spouse or par-
lack of bread, that warrant
ent or child or a more sup-
our attention, as well.
portive member of those organiza-
Too many of us hunger for spiri-
tual insight, and for the courage of
tions which need us. We can help
others, and thereby derive great
faith. Too many of us are estranged
pleasure and meaning from life.
from community, from synagogue
We do not hunger for bread
and from a feeling that God is pres-
alone. No, we are all hungry for the
ent in our lives. Too many of us
authenticity of faith or direction
focus on the tragedies and pains,
and meaning in our lives also. May
doubts and unknowns without
acknowledging the joys and sense of we have the courage to recognize
them as true needs, and may we
fulfillment which accompany them
find the energy and resources to
in life.
When I teach about the
find them. El
Holocaust (including at University
of Detroit Mercy), I frequently cite
Elie Wiesel's story:
One night in Auschwitz, the
Each of us has a favorite food to
older men decided to put God "on
eat. Do you have a favorite story
trial." At the end, the jury
of faith? Of courage? Do you
announced, "Guilty! God has neg-
have a role model of someone
lected the Jewish people!"
who has brought meaning into
Afterward, the judge called out, "It's
life? After eating a meal, we
time to daven" and the prosecutor,
recite Birkat HaMazon, which
jury and judge all went to pray.
thanks God as the One Who
Wiesel learned that these people
provides everything and sustains
wanted to believe in. God, despite
all. How can we more complete-
their judgment against Him, despite
ly see ourselves as partners with
the horror around them.
God in being a support to oth-
How do we fill our hunger for
ers? Can you create a "menu" of
God's presence? By participating in
activities that you (and/or your
Jewish community, performing life-
family) can offer to relieve the
sanctifying acts (mitzvot). Even in
hunger of someone you know
who is in need?
Norman T Roman is rabbi of Temple

Shabbat Ekev:
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2002

63

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