In the Bible, the Israelites journeyed for 40 years through the desert and had many obstacles. The Bible explained the many problems they had during the journey: employment, food shortages, water supply problems, civil unrest and even disease.
Today, people’s problems may be different from the issues of old; however, modern people suffer from COVID-19, diabetes, heart disease, financial losses, stress and more.
I often go to Israel for visits, and when I go, I know not to go in June, July or August. Israel is like Murrieta in the summer months – it is hot. It is no fun climbing Masada when it is 110 F out.
By the time of the Second Temple period, people had adapted to the Promised Land’s living conditions. I read recently how in the town of Ein Kerem, the city in which John the Baptist from Christian traditions lived, a ritual mikvah bath or “font” was found under a house. Search the internet for the pictures; it is fantastic to see how a mikvah bath was right under the floor in the living room for 2,000 years. For some, like the Essene Jews, the people practiced daily ritual cleansing. Talk about cooling off in the desert heat and doing your best to keep the commandments, very innovative.
Observance of the Bible was fundamental to the everyday living of a believer when the Bible was written, and it is just as important in modern times.
This week’s Torah portion, known as Parashat Eikev, has some popular references such as “man does not live by bread alone” and guidance on how God guides and disciplines us.
According to Deuteronomy 8:3-6, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these 40 years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.”
In the midst of trials, tribulations and everyday problems, the focus of the Bible is to follow God and observe the commandments. It is the best advice that people can apply in their lives today. They cannot “live by bread alone,” society will become devoid of God’s love if people ignore God’s word.
When people are concerned with how to buy clothes and feed their children, the Bible reminds them that this struggle is part of the journey of life.
The solution to life is to walk with God every day following the commandments, so when they need to have a partner amid their trials, people can walk in the footsteps of God.
Roger Cohen is a military veteran and a university lecturer in Southern California, specializing in ethics, religious studies and political science. Follow him at http://www.facebook.com/ProfessorRoger.
Congregation B’nai Chaim offers services to Jewish and interfaith families and is located at 29500 Via Princesa in Murrieta. For more information, visit http://www.bnaichaim.com.