It Is Not Because Of You
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Parshat Eikev continues Moshe's talk with B'nei Yisrael where over and over again it is emphasized that it is not on the merit of the Hebrews that they have the privilege to enter The Land but because God chose them for this special privilege. Moshe looks backward and notes that the Hebrews have been repeatedly tested by Gd because God is a father figure to the people of Israel and wished to toughen them before they entered the land. Further, God warns that upon entering the land that the Israelites should not forget where the come from or the gifts that God provides. It is God who gives and God who can just as easily take away.
This poem attempts to springboard from the message that there are so many things that are out of our control, but that there are many things that we can do and should do, as Jews and as citizens of this planet.
It is Not Because of You
It is not because of you that the sun shines bright
or that the rivers flow
or that the winds blow cold in winter
or that birds fly through the skies
or that fish swim through the seas
But it is because of you
that fires rage
that animals become extinct
that water is polluted
that the air we breath is foul.
It is not because of you that the sun rises in the morning
and sets in purples and golds.
But it is for you never to take the minutes, hours and days of your life for granted.
It is not because of you
that you were born at this time
in this place
to your parents,
but it is up to you
to understand the past
so that you may understand the present
and the future.
It is not because of you that you are tall or short
or handsome to behold
or what your race is
but it is for you to see people in the best possible light
that you hear their words openly
and that you treat them kindly.
It is not because of you that you were born Jewish or Christian
or Muslim or Buddhist
But it is for you to you respect other's beliefs.
It is not because of you that you were awarded the gift of sight
But it is for you to have a vision for life.
It is not because of you that you were given the gift of hearing
but it is for you to listen with ears open to what other's say
and to respond with compassion.
It is not because of you that you were granted the wonder of speech
But it is your responsibility to choose your words wisely
It is not because of you that you were born wealthy or poor
but it is up you to do the best that you can
whatever your circumstances.
It is not because of you that you were born in your town, your country, your continent
But it is for you to make that place better for those who come after you.
And it is not because of you that you are present on this earth
but it is up to you to be ever grateful that you are here.
הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.
“Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena” – “You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.” (Rabbi Tarfon, Pirkei Avot 2:21)
Deuteronomy 9:5-6 (translation from Sefaria)
אַל־תֹּאמַ֣ר בִּלְבָבְךָ֗ בַּהֲדֹ֣ף יְהֹוָה֩ אֱלֹהֶ֨יךָ אֹתָ֥ם ׀ מִלְּפָנֶ֘יךָ֮ לֵאמֹר֒ בְּצִדְקָתִי֙ הֱבִיאַ֣נִי יְהֹוָ֔ה לָרֶ֖שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֑את וּבְרִשְׁעַת֙ הַגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֔לֶּה יְהֹוָ֖ה מוֹרִישָׁ֥ם מִפָּנֶֽיךָ׃
And when the LORD your God has thrust them from your path, say not to yourselves, “The LORD has enabled us to possess this land because of our virtues”; it is rather because of the wickedness of those nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you.
לֹ֣א בְצִדְקָתְךָ֗ וּבְיֹ֙שֶׁר֙ לְבָ֣בְךָ֔ אַתָּ֥ה בָ֖א לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־אַרְצָ֑ם כִּ֞י בְּרִשְׁעַ֣ת ׀ הַגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֗לֶּה יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ מוֹרִישָׁ֣ם מִפָּנֶ֔יךָ וּלְמַ֜עַן הָקִ֣ים אֶת־הַדָּבָ֗ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהֹוָה֙ לַאֲבֹתֶ֔יךָ לְאַבְרָהָ֥ם לְיִצְחָ֖ק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹֽב׃
It is not because of your virtues and your rectitude that you will be able to possess their country; but it is because of their wickedness that the LORD your God is dispossessing those nations before you, and in order to fulfill the oath that the LORD made to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.