Editor’s Note: Steve Friedman is a member of Congregation M’kor Shalom, a Reform congregation in Cherry Hill, NJ.
For the past forty years I have been studying Torah at Congregation M’kor Shalom. On a recent Shabbat morning, with the regulars and Rabbi Address, we read parts of Deuteronomy 8:1-9:5. This portion is best known for the phrase “Man cannot live with bread alone.” However, I was touched by another verse that reads, “When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for all that he has given you.”
It occurred to me that the words, “eaten your fill” was a metaphor for the accumulation of my life’ experiences. If in fact the Torah chronicles the journey of the Israelites from infancy to maturity, this verse seems to connect that journey to my personal journey. As I approach the final phase of my life I am coming closer to “having eaten my fill”. I am profoundly grateful for every relationship and every experience both good and bad that has shaped my 76 years.
A few years ago I was hit by a car while riding my bike. The care and loving attention I received from family, friends, and medical staff was so overwhelming I
felt undeserving. Prior to the accident I had intellectually understood the concepts of gratefulness and being in the moment but never really felt that on an emotional level. What I came to realize during my recuperation was that the near death experience was in many ways a blessing. The blessing of the accident unlocked my awareness to the miracles of my daily life and opened me to the practice of gratitude which has brought peace to my life.
I know that I will continue to eat my fill as the act of gratitude has now become part of my daily consciousness. In this New Year I look forward to expanding this practice and I am thankful for all that the divine has given me.