See, the heavens and the heaven’s heavens belong to Adonai your God, the earth and everything on it. Yet Adonai fell in love with your ancestors and God chose you, their descendants, from all peoples, just as today. So, cut away the foreskin of your hearts and stiffen your necks no more. (Parashat Eikev, Dtn 10:14-16)
The reference to cutting the „foreskin of your hearts“ is dramatic, maybe even wince inducing. It is an uncomfortable metaphor for us, and it is meant to be so. Tradition understands this Torah term generally as a call to fast, for example on Yom Kippur, but it is much more than that. There is a notion that we should feel uncomfortable about our reluctance to appreciate life’s gifts we have received, such as jobs, health, food, family and so much more.
With beautiful words, the Torah reminds us that we live in a universe that is wondrous beyond our ken. (What on earth are „the heaven’s heavens“? It can only mean something that is a mystery to our feeble understanding.) Yet, despite our seeming insignificance in this vast reality, we have been given gifts of immeasurable love—life and earth, thoughts and feelings. We should live in perpetual gratitude. So, why do we forget so easily? Why do we dull our minds to the miracles around us and within us?
Moses pleads with us to remember. He extols us to cut away the barrier that stifles our awareness. We are meant to be reminded, uncomfortable as it may be, of the fact that we are made of vulnerable flesh and blood … but we are so much more. We are feeble creatures that, yet, can be joined in covenant with God. We are temporary and transient, yet we can be in dialogue with eternity.
It is five weeks until we will welcome the New Year. May those five weeks be blessed with a deeper understanding of who we are and how lucky we are to have God in our lives.
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbat.
– Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: Jeff Goldwasser )