Ekev - You Shall be Satisfied

Deut. 8:10
V’achalta v’savata u’vayrachta
And you shall eat
and you shall be satisfied
and you shall bless …

Last week I was teaching at a Jewish retreat center, Elat Chayyim, where the food was abundant and every meal was buffet style. Sure enough, when I returned home I had gained 4 pounds. Not only had I gained spiritual nourishment, I had gained water and fat!

Why was it so hard to refuse that second helping? I think I am not alone in this dilemma, as a significant proportion of adult Americans are overweight, and even in children, obesity is a growing problem. Now, I am fortunate to have a good metabolism, and so, four days later, I have lost the extra pounds. But the question remains. Why is it so hard for me to feel satisfied?

This week’s Torah reading addresses this very issue. In Deut. 8:10 it says, “V’achalta v’savata u’vayrachta. And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless …”

The Hebrew word for satisfied, savah, is spelled exactly the same as the word for seven, sheva. In fact, the first two letter, shin/sin and bet, are the first two letters of Shabbat. In Hebrew there is always a connection in meaning when there is a correspondence of letters.

In this case, it seems to be the concept of fullness, completeness, satisfaction, that is common to all three. On Shabbat, the seventh day, we are to feast on prayers, study, and food, and feel a special sense of joy and satisfaction. But the state of feeling satisfied is a challenging spiritual practice.

The Torah urges us, on Shabbat and everyday, to say a blessing of thanks when we begin, and when we have finished eating, for the purpose of connecting with the ultimate Source of satisfaction, and feeling filled with the Divine Presence. When we pay attention, when we appreciate the present, then we may be satisfied.