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Two Minutes of Torah: Ekev - Remembering where we've come from

On one of my first trips to New York City I participated in a tour of the Lower East Side.  It was quite amazing to see where the Jewish community had originally settled here and to visit the tenement blocks and the buildings which made up their homes.

For me, what struck me most, was the fact that they lived in such difficult conditions, in such trying and hard times, and yet, through this, they had struggled and overcome the challenges placed before them to establish a community. This was the generation that built the institutions, and laid the foundations, for their children and future generations of the Jewish community and we are the lucky heirs to their building.

In this week’s Torah portion, as Moses continues to talk to the people about what will happen when they enter the land of Israel, Moses warns them, when you have eaten your fill and built fine houses to live in and you have accumulated much wealth, beware, lest then that you forget God. In this way, Moses recognized that when we become comfortable, when we become affluent, when we no longer have to struggle, it’s easy to forget where we have come from. It’s easy to forget our past and to forget those people who put in so much so that we would be able to live in the way that we do. 

In the Torah, Moses was talking about God and the way that God had led our ancestors out of slavery in Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised Land.  And for us, we might wonder about whether we forget God but we might also wonder whether we forget those previous generations who sacrificed so much.

And as we remember where we came from, and remember our community’s history, we might wonder – what is our obligation?  What can we learn from those that went before us?  How have we laid foundations for the future?  Where have we built up communities?

In many ways we are the lucky generation who live in the fine houses and are able to eat our fill and we must always remember those that came before us and we must always be conscious that we have a responsibility not just to their memory, but to the future generations who will come after us.

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