When do we say “thank you”? Usually when we receive a gift. But the Torah wants to remind us to give thanks after we enjoy the gift too.
In this week’s Torah portion (Eikev), Moses worries that the people will forget about God when things are going well. He tells the people to give thanks “when you have eaten your fill…” (Deuteronomy 8:10) which is the basis for the Birkat haMazon, the blessing that we say after a meal.
This week Faceboook has been reminding me that five years ago I traveled with my then 80-year-old mother to South Korea to visit my daughter, who had recently moved there. Every day another photo pops up on my computer screen. In them we are smiling, happy, visiting places halfway around the world that we never imagined we would see.
It would be easy for me to think that my family and I were responsible for the joyous journey we shared. But many factors led to our happy trip, including some of which we were blithely unaware.
Nehama Leibowitz pointed out that in the Torah, Moses was deeply concerned about our tendency toward arrogance. She wrote, “In blindness, human beings tend to detect the guiding hand of God only when it is visible in miracles… They fail to see the hidden miracles performed for them continually, even when the world around them… seems to be going on as usual.”
My mom died 2½ years after that trip, and I am grateful that we made the journey together. And Torah reminds me to recognize the presence of the Divine in my life, in ways both large and small, and to say a prayer of thanks for the many blessings that I have received.