How many are your works, LORD!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures. — Psalm 104:24

We begin a new year of devotional teachings from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein with a focus on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join us as we explore Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.

We invite you to dig deeper into the Jewish roots of Christianity with Rabbi Eckstein’s monthly teaching series, Limmud. Check it out here.

For children, the world is a magical place. Everything is new and exciting. They marvel at the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky. They relish the opportunity to watch something as simple as a ladybug crawling across a leaf or a butterfly fluttering from one flower to another. They see the world with fresh eyes, and through their eyes, everything is amazing!

By the time we have been on the planet for a decade or two, much of the magic has been lost. We take it for granted that we live in a beautiful world that is both mysterious and wondrous. We hardly notice the magnificent sky above or the lush grass on the ground. As we walk around our planet, we aren’t even aware of the fact that we are on a sphere that is spinning around in outer space and yet everything around us remains completely still!

It’s so easy to spend a lifetime on this planet and miss out on the beauty of God’s creation. In the Jewish tradition, we set aside a special time each month to step back, look around, and say, “Wow! This place is amazing, God!” Every month when the moon is new, just a sliver in the sky, we celebrate it and all of nature. One of the things we do is read Psalm 104.

In Psalm 104, King David reflects on the wonders of our world. He speaks about how the waters once covered the entire world, but then God separated the waters and placed them in oceans and rivers so that people would have land to live upon (vv. 6–9). David delights in the fact that God created a world complete with delicious fruit and vegetation that can sustain both man and animal.

But not only that – God also created things such as oil and wine – items that are not necessary, but are gifts that bring joy and relaxation to people (v.15). David marvels at the day and night cycles that form a working rhythm in the world. The most dangerous beasts hunt at night when people are home and return to their habitats in the day when people are out (vv. 20–23).

The flawless harmony in the natural world leads David to exclaim, “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Indeed, God created an amazing and diverse world for us to live in that reveals intelligence beyond our comprehension.

Today, let us look at God’s world and appreciate it with new eyes. Every wonderful thing that you will discover is a manifestation of His love for us and a testimony to His glory.

Check out Rabbi Eckstein’s study on Abraham, the father of our faiths, Abraham, in his Limmud (“study” in Hebrew) teaching, “Abraham: The Patriarch of Loving-kindness.”

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