Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Ekev - 5773
Visiting Israel for the attentive Jew is always an overwhelming experience. The history of the land kindles the soul, while the current home-coming inspires. Yet for many of us, the food has a special place in our hearts (and waistline).
The Torah commands us to thank the creator for the bread by reciting the grace-after-the-meal. However, the verse preceding this commandment notes that Israel is a "land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills." Commentators wonder why mention stones and copper between the reference to bread and the blessing?
The commentators explain that the stones are not average stones but rather the magnificent Jerusalem stone (Ramban). This pale limestone is so striking that the British, who governed the land before the establishment of the state, decreed that all buildings had to be faced with Jerusalem stone. Once we understand that the stones refer to Jerusalem we can appreciate why it is mentioned right before the grace after the meal. The Rabbis in the Talmud (Brachot 48) note the King David instituted that Jerusalem be mentioned in the Birkat Hamazon. Thus the stone of Jerusalem clearly belongs in the verses that command us to recite the Birkat Hamazon. Incidentally the copper is referring to the Beit Hamikdash (that is also mentioned in the Birkat Hamazon) as the verse regarding the Temple notes that "there was such a number of them; it was not possible to get the weight of the copper."