Standing before the Promised Land, this week’s parasha reminds the people that things are about to change. For the last forty years we had the miracles of God to guide us and manna as our food. We are told:
Man does not live by bread alone
We are told that our clothes and shoes will wear out:
Your clothing did not wear out upon you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
In the new land we would need to find our own way without the “clouds of glory” to guide us. We would still going to be protected by God who would send the “tzir’ah“ (considered to be a deadly hornet) against our enemies, but it would be up to us. No miracles; but to quote David ben Gurion in 1956:
In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.
Last week we received the first part of the Shema, to love God and teach our children. This week we receive the second paragraph of the Shema; to carry out the mitzvot so that the land will prosper. The teaching is:
Never forget where we came from.
Never forget our principles and ideals.
This would be the real challenge. Nations conquer, mature and eventually decline as inequality grows. But a society that retains its faith will survive. Perhaps that is our own miracle.