Shabbat Shalom with a Heart-Healthy Dose of Torah-Eikev

Growing up in Las Vegas, many of my youthful memories are tied to the “stars” who made the city. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, and the list goes on. My father was an OB/GYN, and took care of many of the showgirls. They came in already made up to go to work, and I worked in Dad’s office until it became clear to him that I was too old (hormonally) to be an effective employee (I was 14). As I said, we somehow framed conversations about everyday life in terms of celebrities … and vice versa. 

One of the most memorable descriptions came from my now late brother David. As a teenager, he was obsessed with Olivia Newton John … pre-“Grease.” To tell you something about David, he loved her because … “If white bread could sing, it would sound like Olivia Newton John.” I was just out visiting my mom and, of course, conversations became reminiscences. Olivia is currently performing in Vegas, and we could not miss the opportunity to share in this memory.

In preparing for this Shabbat, I could not get this thought out of my head … especially after reading, “Man does not live by bread alone.” Given my relatively new found disdain for processed white bread, the metaphor of a bread debate took over my thoughts. How could we possibly survive on bread alone, when there is such diversity in the bread world? We know that bread is a basic staple, but in even the finest of breads, most of the basic food groups beyond carbohydrates are sorely lacking. Each slice of bread needs to be paired with proteins, fats, vegetables, etc. to make for not only a tasty meal, but one which can truly sustain our growth and celebration of life. The variations of Rye, Wheat, Grain, Gluten Free, and yes … even White breads have to teach us something about the world in which we live.

Thus it is in our world–we need variety. We need something past ourselves to make life whole. We need each other and the incredibly varied gifts that we each bring to the table. Each of us has life, but life cannot have ultimate meaning without the blessings that come from our mutual engagement. We were born to create miracles, and however important bread is as a food staple, life cannot flourish until we bring our miracles into each other’s lives.

The news outside is depressing. The radicalism stemming from all religious labels defies all reason and denies everything holy. “Man cannot live by bread alone.” In this day, we are not even allowing people the basic bread of life, never mind finding ways in which to help them flourish. From people starving and homeless in war torn parts of the world, to the people starving and homeless in our streets here at home; not only are we not helping them thrive, we are often barely helping to sustain even the basics of life … even while we take for granted our meals and snacks each day.

It is no crime to be wealthy. This is not intended for guilt. Many of us do a lot to help out, but there is something wrong when the number of agencies that dole out food in even a small community fills multiple pages. We need to do more to help people NOT be in need, to help them not only have bread but be able to put what they want and need on their own bread.

It is time for us to move past food drives to end hunger, because they do not. We need to grow people and give them the tools and incentives to make their own way … so that they can share the miracles they were created to share. Let’s dedicate some time and energy in our schools, in our shelters, and throughout our communities to help make sure that no one has to survive on bread alone. Shabbat Shalom.