Yesterday, at a shop in NY, I asked for a small cup of squeezed orange juice. The vendor gave me a huge cup full of juice. “I asked for a small one”, I said to correct the mistake, but he pointed at two bigger cups that were there: “What you received is the small one. There is also medium size and that one – is the big one!” I still haven’t got used to the fact that everything here is huge.
The real challenge that Sefer Devarim (Book of Deuteronomy) cautions us of living in a society of abundance, a society in which there is everything, big time so. Once and again Moshe Rabbenu does not warn us of when we will be lacking from richness, but rather of richness itself, not of the danger of hunger, but of the danger of satiation. In fact, after years of wandering in the desert, Sefer Devarim prepares us for the challenge of our times: life in a society that has – rather than in a society that does not have. Our ancestors had to deal with slavery, hunger, persecutions and expulsions, but what do we do later, when we enter the good Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey? It is not for naught that the Portion stresses again and again: Remember, do not forget, watch out less you forget, do not “fatten your heart” and kick the tradition that has been sanctified with tears and blood. It is true, all of the generations before us have displayed devotion, adherence and enthusiasm under tough conditions. But we must not underestimate our own difficult challenge: it takes true devotion to be able to continue on their path – also under easy, comfortable conditions.