Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39
The Torah portion for this week is Va'etchanan, which means "I pleaded," from Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 40:1-26.
I once read the following: "Relax. Nothing is under control." Of course, one would expect to read, "Relax. Everything is under control," and that's what many of us hope for in our own lives - to have it all under control. But as the initial statement affirms, that time will never come. In fact, we don't control anything at all even the things that we think we do!
In our reading this week, Moses said these important words: "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." Why does Moses say both "Acknowledge" and "take to heart"? The answer is because knowing something in our heads is not the same as feeling it in our hearts. When we know something factually, it doesn't have the same impact on our lives as when we feel it and know it as truth in our hearts. When we take it to heart, it affects our everyday lives.
Two other crucial words in our verse are "this day." That means that Moses wasn't just saying these words to the Israelites thousands of years ago. He is telling them to us as well on this very day. Today, we need to take to heart, in the deepest way possible, that there is nothing but God in heaven and on earth. He alone controls it all. Nothing is under our control, or under that of any other human being or circumstance. So we may as well relax.
There once was a psychology professor who was teaching about stress management. She held up a glass of water and asked, "How much does this glass of water weigh?" The students gave answers ranging from eight to 20 ounces. However, the professor explained, "It doesn't really matter how much it weighs, what matters more is how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." It's the same with stress, the teacher explained - the longer we hold it, the more it hurts us.
We need to know today that God is in control of everything, so we might as well "put down the glass." We need to stop carrying around the stress of the things beyond our control. Instead "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22).
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President