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Parshas Eikev


    He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the Manna that you did not know nor did your forefathers know in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live but on all that emanates from the mouth of HASHEM does man live. (Devarim 8:3)

What is added by the word “all”? How does it add flavor to the Manna or the meaning of the verse?

We say daily the following words in our morning prayers, “Blessed is He Who spoke and the world came to be!” Let us cogitate on that point. The whole world is actually a manifestation of the speech of The Almighty. We are absolutely dependent, in the fullest sense of the word, upon HASHEM’s existence and not at all the other way around. The entirety of existence is founded on the will of G-d expressed by His words. ‘And Elochim said, “Let there be light and there was light!”’ Everything else devolves and evolves from further detailed verbiage. It’s words almost all the way!

I am reminded of an absurdly bad joke a literature professor told my freshman year in college. A swami sitting cross legged in his cave responds ever so briefly to the question of his disciple before returning to his meditative silence. The dialogue goes like this: “On what does the world rest master?” He responds, “On the back of an elephant!” The student leaves and returns in wonderment seven years later. “On what does that elephant rest master?” “On the back of another elephant, my son!” He returns again seven years later asks the same question and gets the same answer and again a few more times. Now he returns and finds the swami very old and frail and the student says, “You must tell me the secret! We may not have another chance!” “Alright” the swami answers, “If you must know. It’s elephants all the way!”

Of course it is silly and the ultimate in absurdity. How can it be elephants all the way? Intuitively and empirically we know it cannot be so! Anyone who has even a rudimentary understanding of the periodic table of elements knows that everything in the universe that we perceive including us are made up of a jumbled mass of the same stuff- the same protons, neutrons, quarks and whatnots, with electrons, whirling at varied valences and with differing densities in the nucleus. From hydrogen to uranium, from gas to liquid to the most solid it’s all the same- packaged and ordered differently. When any atom is split open, as we came to know in the 20th century, an ocean of densely packed sublime energy is suddenly released. That mysterious “energy” is at the heart of all that exists. It’s that simple! The famous British physicist Stephen Hawkings once asked, “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?”

It is told that Rabbi Yisrael Salanter ztl., the father of the Mussar Movement, was sitting in a hotel lobby in France. He was served a glass of water. Afterward the waiter presented him with a bill for an enormous sum, let’s say 50 francs. Reb Yisrael asked the waiter if perhaps he had made a mistake because all he had was a glass of water and not an entire meal. The waiter went on to explain that it was no mistake, “Rabinner, you are not paying for the glass of water alone. No! You are paying also for the magnificent scenery, the beautiful decorations, and the musicians in the background. You are paying for the ambiance!” Reb Yisrael paid the bill, left a tip, and went back to his room where he wrote to his students in Russia, “Now I understand why when we drink a glass of water we say, “Shehokol N’hiyah B’dvaro” “That all comes about though His speech!” “We are not blessing for the water alone. We are making a blessing on everything!

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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