When I was growing up at camp, Shabbat was a special time. We had a lot of free time to hang out with friends and simply enjoy the day. Towards the end of Shabbat, I would often be walking towards my cabin with friends when we would pass the lake and see the sun setting. It was truly an awesome moment. I would stand still, watching while I could only hear my breath and the natural sounds of the outdoors. Then, one of my friends, would always open his mouth to then say something like, “isn’t this such an amazing moment.” And we would all yell at him for ruining the moment by trying to describe what we were all already feeling.
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Toldot, Isaac our Father, peace be upon him/יצחק אבינו עליו השלום, works the Land and becomes quite prosperous. “Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold (lit.-one hundred gates). The Lord blessed him, and the man became rich; he prospered more and more until he became very wealthy/ויזרע יצחק בארץ ההיא, וימצא בשנה ההיא מאה שערים. ויברכהו ה'. ויגדל האיש, וילך הלוך וגדל עד כי גדל מאד.” The Sfas Emes teaches that these one hundred gates/me’ah she’arim are opened everyday through the power of the one hundred blessings/brachot that we say. These blessings are explained in the verse, “O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you/מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר-צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ.” And therefore, Isaac, the pillar of awe, has the one hundred gates revealed to him as the sages explained the verse “What/ma/מה does God demand of you, but to fear the Lord?” Don’t read it “What/ma/מה”, rather, read it “One hundred/me’ah/מאה.” Only through awe do we merit to receive the blessings that have been laid out for those that fear God.
The Sfas Emes is teaching us that a precondition to receiving the bountiful blessings that God has laid out for us is to have a sense of awe. What exactly is awe? How do we “have” it or “do” it? Heschel writes, “the meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”
As the seasons change, and as many of us will be seeing lots of family and friends in the upcoming week for Thanksgiving, there will be plenty of opportunities to look at the world around you and feel a sense of awe and wonder. What should you do? Heschel teaches that awe is an “insight better conveyed in attitudes than in words. The more eager we are to express it, the less remains of it.” Don’t say anything. Look at what is around you. Wonder at the awesome. Smile and receive the blessings before you.
 Gen. 26:12-13
 Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (Hebrew יהודה אריה ליב אלתר, 15 April 1847 – 11 January 1905), also known by the title of his main work, the Sfas Emes (Yiddish) or Sefat Emet שפת אמת (Hebrew), was a Hasidic rabbi who succeeded his grandfather, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, as the Av beis din (head of the rabbinical court) and Rav of Góra Kalwaria, Poland (known in Yiddish as the town of Ger), and succeeded Rabbi Chanokh Heynekh HaKohen Levin of Aleksander as Rebbe of the Gerrer Hasidim
 There is a tradition that we should say 100 brachot each day that eventually gets codified into law (Tur O”H 46:3)
 Ps. 31:20
 Isaac represents the quality of awe and fear (Abraham represents love and kindness)
 BT Menachot 43b
 Sfas Emes 1:116
 Heschel, God in Search of Man, pg. 75
Rabbi Ezra Balser has been the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since July 1, 2016. He received his “smicha” (ordination) in June 2017 from Hebrew College while also earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He has also received the iCenter's Certification in Israel Education.