A few years ago, a friend gave me a birthday present: a hat with an important message on it: Life is good! When I asked my friend about the gift, he (being a fellow clergy person) quoted Deuteronomy 8 to me, suggesting that when one has it “all,” then life is good.
This week’s Torah portion, called Ekev, happens to include that section of Deuteronomy. The Torah defines the “good life” in relation to agriculture – that which was most essential for physical and emotional well-being so many generations ago. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses shares with the people what their lives might look like, when they enter Israel. Moses describes it as “a good land – a land with flowing streams, and underground springs gushing out in valley and mountain. It is a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates – a land of oil-olives and honey. It is a land where you will not eat rationed bread, and you will not lack anything…When you eat and are satisfied, you must therefore bless God your Lord for the good land…”
So…I asked myself: Why was this the definition of the “good life?”
In ancient days, it was a plentiful crop, abundant water, a place and a time where all our nutritional needs were met. Why was this the good life then? Consider the previous 40 years. The Children of Israel spent it wandering in the desert. They spent many of those years complaining about the food…or lack thereof. So, for them, the “good life” was having what they craved the most.
So…I asked myself: What is the definition of the “good life” today?
I wasn’t sure…so I asked some colleagues. And here is what they said:
- doing something that I love each and every day
- having abundant food
- being able to make/create and contribute to the world
- world peace
I liked their answers. And realized just how complicated a question it was. And yet, at the same time, the answers could be incredibly simple and clear.
I challenge you to ask yourself the questions: “What is the “good life” for me? What would make me satisfied so that I would want to bless God?”
If you would be willing to share your responses with me (CLICK HERE to do so) I may print some in next week’s message.
What is the “good life”? At the moment I saw a double rainbow this week, I felt life was pretty good, that the world – for that moment – was in harmony:
What about you? What’s your definition?