Torah Weekly - Eikev
This issue is dedicated in memory of Chava Leah bas Yosef Yitzchak, Eve Lynn Koppele, on her second Yahrzeit 19 Av 5756
If the Bnei Yisrael are careful to observe even those 'minor' mitzvos that are usually 'trampled' underfoot, Moshe promises them that they will be the most blessed of the nations of the Earth. Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael that they will conquer Eretz Canaan little by little, so that the land will not be overrun by wild animals in the hiatus before the Bnei Yisrael are able to organize and settle the whole land. After again warning the Bnei Yisrael to burn all carved idols of Canaanite gods, Moshe stresses that The Torah is indivisible and not open to partial observance. Moshe describes the Land of Israel as a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and pomegranates, a land of oil-yielding olives and date-honey. Moshe cautions the Bnei Yisrael not to become haughty and think that what they will have in Eretz Yisrael is a result of their own powers or vigor; rather they must always remember that it was Hashem who gave them wealth and success. Nor did Hashem drive out the Canaanites because of the righteousness of the Bnei Yisrael, but rather because of the sins of the Canaanites; for the road from Sinai has been a catalogue of large and small sins and rebellions against Hashem and Moshe. Moshe details the events after Hashem spoke the Ten Commandments at Sinai, culminating in his bringing down the second set of Tablets on Yom Kippur. Aaron's passing is recorded together with the elevation of the Levites to minister to Hashem. Moshe points out that the 70 souls that went down into Egypt have now become like the stars of the heaven for abundance. After specifying the great virtues of the Land of Israel, Moshe speaks the second paragraph of the Shema, which conceptualizes reward for keeping the mitzvos and penalty for not keeping them.
In other words - only when you understand that left to your own ability, and without the help of Hashem, you will not be able to overcome the nations - then you have nothing to fear at all. But if you think you will be able to drive out the nations by your own power, that's when you should start to worry, because then Hashem certainly won't provide the needed support!
If a person loves his fellow man and gives him respect, in no way does this detract from his love and respect for Hashem. However, if a person fears mere flesh and blood, this is a sure sign that his feeling of awe for Hashem is less than perfect. If a person is genuinely "God-fearing", then he fears no man.
How is it possible for the soul whose very essence is spiritual to be sustained by something as physical as food? The answer is that, in reality, the whole of Creation exists only as a result of the power of Hashem's original utterance at the time of Creation (as it says in Bereishis "By the word of Hashem, the heavens were created"). It is this same power of Hashem's word wrapped inside the food which nourishes the soul. When a Jew takes an apple and makes a blessing over it, he awakens the latent spiritual power implanted in the fruit at the time of the Creation - that's real "soul-food"!
Rabbi Levi pointed out a contradiction between two verses in Tehillim (Psalms): One verse states "The world and it's fullness are Hashem's," and a different verse states "The world He has given to Man." Really there is no contradiction - the first verse refers to the situation before a person makes a bracha, while the second verse refers to after the bracha. Said Rabbi Chanina "Anyone who takes pleasure from the physical world without making a bracha first is as if he stole from Hashem."
TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
The underlying theme of the Parsha and the Haftorah is that how ever far the Jewish people fall from favor, they can never lose their status as the Chosen People of Hashem. This is the second of the seven Parshios of consolation after Tisha B'Av. This Haftorah is the source of the famous phrase "light unto the nations." Isaiah tells the Jewish People that despite the terrible tragedies and hardships of exile, he does not despair - he knows that the end of the exile is coming. And so he pleads with his contemporaries and all of their offspring throughout all the generations to remember that they are the children of Avraham and Sarah, and that Hashem will surely comfort them.
Insights into the Zemiros sung at the Shabbos table throughout the generations.
"Moshe rejoices in the gift which is his portion, For you called him a faithful servant"
Even before the Shabbos was commanded to the Jewish People as a mitzvah it was already observed as a day of rest.
After seeing the suffering of his people in Egypt, Moshe convinced Pharaoh that it was counterproductive to subject his slaves to seven days of hard labor and that one day of rest was vital for them to replenish their strength. Pharaoh gave him the option of choosing which day and Moshe asked for the seventh day of the week.
When Hashem subsequently designated this very day as the day of rest Moshe rejoiced that he had correctly anticipated the will of the Creator and that the precious gift of the Sabbath given by Hashem to His chosen people was in the exact portion of the week which His "faithful servant" had chosen.
Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Lev Seltzer
HTML Design: Michael Treblow
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