In this week’s parashah Moses continues his recounting of the events which have befallen the Israelites during their wanderings. He reminds them of the miracles, the incredible moments as well as the hardships and challenges they have faced. And then comes the poignant warning: remember that any goodness you have or will receive comes to you not because of your merit, it was the grace of God which provided it for you. So be sure to thank and bless God for all the kindnesses which have been bestowed upon you. Moses is aware of and concerned that it is easy to love and give praise and thanks to God when times are difficult, but the danger is when things are going well, it is then we can fall into arrogance. To believe that we are the architect of all our achievements and that we need not be grateful for our blessings for they were deserved. We have all heard the expression; “there are no atheists in foxholes,” and the great dangers Moses warns the people about are the dangers of affluence, security and success.
Nehama Leibowitz, the great Torah scholar suggests that Moses reminds the people to thank and praise God for the small moments in life to highlight the everyday miracles. It is easy, she suggests, to have faith in God and give thanks when a person experiences revelation, the exodus, manna falling from the sky, it is far more difficult amongst the mundane of everyday life. The generation that are about to enter the Promised Land have heard from their parents about the great miracles which happened for them, some even experienced those moments. But Moses is aware that as time moves on and all they have are the stories, it will be easy to forget all that God has done for them. For that reason, Moses reminds the people to stop, notice and give thanks for the small miracles which happen around us every day; the blessing of food to eat, a roof over our heads, the natural world. And if we stop to say a blessing of thanksgiving, we will notice what we may otherwise dismiss as part of the every day. We no longer have the great miracles happening but Nachmanides says that miracles are everywhere around us, we just need to open our eyes to see and appreciate them.