Thirty-five years ago, the British band The Police had their greatest commercial success with the song Every Breath You Take. On the surface, with its pleasant melody, it seemed to be a song about deep, devotional love. But a more careful listen to Sting’s lyrics will expose the speaker’s more sinister motives: “Every breath you take/every move you make/every bond you break/every step you take/I’ll be watching you.”
There’s a big difference between giving someone doting attention and stalking him/her. So when the Israelites heard Moshe make the following promise in this week’s Torah portion, Ekev, one wonders whether they thought it was a promise or a threat: “It is a land which the LORD your God looks after, on which the LORD your God always keeps His eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end” (Deuteronomy 11:12).
What are the possible consequences of constant Divine attention? Can the object of God’s perpetual vision endure the pressure? Can we see it as a blessing? If so, might it also become too much of a blessing? The rabbis noticed this passage with its many possible outcomes for the psyche of the People of Israel. On Shabbat morning, we’ll delve into a couple of their interpretations, and consider a modern application of the challenge of being under God’s constant gaze/scrutiny.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,