D'vrei Torah by Rabbi Ellie Shemtov
The 12-step slogan If God seems further away, who moved? refers to times in our lives when we feel distant from God. Overcome by that feeling of detachment, we might have a tendency to believe it is God who has moved away from us. But this is not the case. God hasn’t gone anywhere. It is instead we who through our thoughts and our actions have moved further away from God.
In this week’s Torah portion Ekev, Moses warns the Israelites about becoming complacent, that it is possible that after settling in Canaan they will grow distant from God and so forget about God and following God’s laws.
Once they are no longer wandering the desert and are enjoying a certain amount of prosperity the Israelites may begin to feel a bit high and mighty and so put God out of their mind. They may come to believe כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָׂה לִי אֶת־הַחַיִל הַזֶּֽה – My own power and the might of my own hand have won wealth for me (Deut. 8:17.)
Their distance from God will be their own choice for if God seems far away, it is surely not God who moved.