13 Av 5780 / Monday, August 03, 2020 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Taking Credit for G-d's Work    

Taking Credit for G-d's Work

My four-year-old daughter thinks that she made the muffins all by herself, when at best she was my assistant… but how often do I make the same mistake in relation to G-d?


My 4-year-old daughter handed a blueberry muffin to my one-and-a-half-year-old son.  


“Does it taste good?” she asked. He took a bite. 


She didn’t wait for him to answer. She just held her head high and said, “I made it myself, you know. I made ALL of the muffins. 


Then she took a step closer to him, put her face right up into his, and continued to brag about her baking success. “I put everything in a bowl, and I mixed it up, and I even put the batter in the tray so carefully.” Unfazed, he gobbled up the rest of the muffin.  


“Do you want another one?” she asked before he finished the last bite.  


Watching their one-way conversation really struck me. Not only because they were cuter than a Charmin commercial, but because from my point of view, all my daughter actually did was pour a cup of pre-measured almond milk and brown rice flour and some blueberries into the bowl. She added a few shakes of cinnamon, a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a squirt of agave. She then made a colossal mess mixing the batter and scooping it into the muffin tray. But according to her, she made it all. Carefully. And by herself.  


Never mind that I came up with the idea to bake blueberry muffins in the first place. Never mind that I bought all of the ingredients, pre-measured and separated everything into different bowls to make it easy for her to pour, stood there making sure she was adding those ingredients at the right time, gave her the mixing spoon, held the bowl still while she mixed like a witch over a cauldron, turned on the oven, and took the tray out at the right time so that it wouldn’t burn. I also washed the dishes afterwards, wiped up the mess on the counter and spills on the floor, and put the ingredients away, but never mind that either. She did it all. 


Now, of course I didn’t want to burst her bubble. I didn’t want to steal her moment of glory by letting her know that she didn’t really do it by herself, but let's face it, she didn’t.  She did a great job of following my directions but her role in the process was, at best, my assistant! How could she ACTUALLY think she did all that by herself? And how in the world can she stand there and boast about doing it all herself in my presence-preposterous!  


And DING. Like the timer beeping on an oven, I heard it. I smelled it. I saw it.  


Just like she is taking credit for a job she only did a small percentage of, so am I. I didn’t do all this on my own either. G-d gave me the means to buy food, to live in a house, to have a working kitchen, to measure food, to twist lids off jars with my hands, to follow a recipe, to direct and teach my child - to have children! 


G-d also gave me the insight to listen, to focus and to learn a lesson from this mundane event. He gave me the idea to write about it. I didn’t create my own thoughts or teach myself my own lessons. As much as I would like to take credit for my thoughts, I am not my own teacher. I am not learning lessons on my own because I am so smart or spiritually aware. NO, G-d is running this classroom. He is teaching, opening my eyes, my heart, and my mind.  


So maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Maybe I’m not so different from my daughter. Maybe in my own way I too have been taking credit for the things I think, and do, without giving credit where credit is due.  


And speaking of apples and trees, what if G-d is like the ultimate tree and we are the apples? 


Invisible to the human eye, we don’t see how the roots inside of the tree carry the nutrients which sustain life, and initiate the growth and development of the fruit. The apple -while it appears to grow on its own and have its own unique sweet taste, is actually an offshoot, a product of the tree.  


And so are we.  


That's not to say that we don’t matter and our efforts are nothing. We are partners with G-d in everything we do. He is always breathing life into us, pumping our hearts, giving us our ability to walk, talk, see, hear, focus, drive, read, create, cook, do business, move our bodies... and we are doing our parts, which no matter how big they may feel to us, are never fully us alone. He is always there handling the details, coordinating events, managing the circumstances and pushing us through.  


And when we get to the other side, when we accomplish whatever it is we set out to do, when the muffins are ready to eat-the question is, will we take full credit for our work, or will we thank and acknowledge G-d and His silent help and support? 




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