"…Lest you say in your heart, 'My strength and the might of my hand have accumulated this wealth for me'"—Deuteronomy 8:17.

In this week's reading, Moses warns the people that when they eventually experience prosperity, they should not erroneously attribute their good fortune to their own power and acumen. They should always remember that it is G‑d who has provided their good fortune.

Here is a parable that elucidates this idea:

A wealthy man once had an adult son who refused to make his own way in life. Instead, he relied on his kind and generous father's resources and lived an idle existence. Over time, the son fell into debauchery and lived only to gratify his most base needs. The son soon found himself in all types of trouble. The father knew that it was his pampering of the young man that had led him to ruin. So, rather than saving his son at his bleakest hour, the father did the opposite—he cut him off. He kicked the son out of his house.

The father instructed the son's superiors to make the boy work hard, but never to break him...The son told the father, "Just you see! I don't need you! I can make it on my own." At first, of course, the young man spent a while sulking about his bad break until he finally stopped making excuses for himself and decided to get back on his feet. He went looking for a job and – little did he know – applied for a position at a company that his father owned. The father made sure that the son got the job, and was well treated. The father supervised his son's progress from afar, instructing the son's immediate superiors to make the boy work hard, to push him to the brink, but never to break him.

When the son received his first paycheck, he marched up to his father with a feeling of great pride and self-satisfaction. "I once needed you. But you kicked me out and I became my own man. I can do just fine on my own."

"Don't you realize," said the father, "that all of your success came from me? All I wanted was that you show the willingness to do some work so that I could provide for you without robbing you of your dignity. But rather than regaining your dignity, you have learned false pride."

We must never forget that life started to become more manageable only after we admitted that we were powerless. If any good has happened to us since then, it is not as a result of anything we have done. For even when G‑d makes us work for our reward, He is still providing us with a gift. Hard work on its own does not inherently generate results. There is no law of the universe that dictates that skill and perseverance must translate into success. It's still all a gift; only it's for our own benefit. He demands that we put forth effort before the gift is given to us—so as not to receive the beggar's bread of shame. Besides providing for our needs, our Father gives us yet another gift—the gift of dignity.

Let us never confuse self-respect with self-reliance. We are forever dependent upon G‑d. But He, always the compassionate and loving Father, allows us to feel both dependence and honor at the same time.