Divrei HaRav

Ekev / עקב

Ekev / עקב

Rashi relates the word “Ekev” to the heel or foot, the mitzvos one accomplishes with his foot. The Ksav Sofer explains the connection between the words at the end of last week’s parsha and the words beginning this week’s parsha. We say that the true reward for mitzvos cannot be found in this world. However, the extra effort that one invests in a mitzvah, the trip that one may make to perform a mitzvah, these result in a reward even in our present world. If so, the possuk ended with “today” in Voeschanon and Rashi comments today to do, tomorrow to receive reward. So how do we merit entering the land? To this the Torah answers with “Ekev” the legwork that one puts into a mitzvah results in immediate reward.

The possuk reads “es HaShem Elokecha tira”, you should fear HaShem. The extra word “es” certainly has a hidden meaning. The Gemora relates that R’ Shimon Hoamsoni had a drosha for every “es” in the Torah. When he realized he did not have one for this possuk he backed off on all the other droshos. R’ Akiva, the Gemora continues, felt that the “es” came to direct us to fear also HaShem’s servants, the Talmidei Chochomim. R: Yisroel Salanter asked “why didn’t Shimon Haomsoni incorporate this into his list of droshos and salvage all his teachings. From this we see the greatest display of integrity, intellectual honesty and yiras shomayim. He would rather sacrifice all his teachings, rather than to subscribe to one drosha that he felt wasn’t proper.

“And the Bnei Yisroel traveled to Mosara, there Aaron died and Elazer became Kohen Gadol.” What is the significance of the word “there” in the possuk? The Imrei Shefer explains. The Gemora explains that one who dies and leaves a capable son to follow him has not really died. When Aaron died, the clouds left the Bnei Yisroel temporarily so the people sensed the loss, but only “there” for afterwards they were comforted with Elazar. Or perhaps the clouds returned in the merit of Elazar, so only “there” Aaron died.

The picture we draw in our minds of the Jewish people of old, is many times, powerful Shimon and Levi, the mighty people that fought in Eretz Yisroel, the great Dovid HaMelech. So why has this changed, that we are not the great warriors of old? This, in spite of the fact, that the young Jewish youth is trying to project a rugged, tough image! The answer is in the parsha and the Ramban. Ekev 8:18. Remember HaShem for He gives you the strength to wage war. The Ramban comments. The Jewish people are strong and courageous and they defeated many great kings. Remember, however, that you wandered in the midbar and you had no power even to care for yourself. You were in the constant care of HaShem. If so, then even now your strength is from HaShem. If you forget Him your strength will wane and you will lose. So the formula is simple. When we are the legion of HaShem we are victorious.

The Vilna Gaon made an interesting connection between the Parshios Voeschonan and Ekev. The Gemora tells us that there is no reward for mitzvos in this world. The Gaon qualifies this statement. There is no reward or wages in a conventional way, the worker does not realize the wages. However, it will be paid to a descendant of this person who is worthy and righteous. For this, Hashem could wait many generations. Now to connect the parshios. Voeschonan ended with “Hashem guards the mitzvos for a thousand generations” but the possuk continues in this parsha “when you will keep the mitzvos, then Hashem will keep the mitzvos to pay you.

The Chofetz Chaim on this week’s parsha comments on the possuk “Hashem took you through the desert for forty years to afflict you and test you”. The word for test is “nasosicha”. He points out that the word “neis” also means to elevate. The two are intertwined. When Hashem desires to elevate a person, he tests him, for this is the way one can elevate him.

The possuk says “all the mitzvos that I command you guard them to do them and you will merit to come to Eretz Yisroel.” The Kedushas Levi gives a different interpretation to the word “tishmiroon”. The word in Breishis “vishamar” meant to wait in expectation. If so, then, the posuk is telling us, if you, at least, yearn for and wait with expectation for the mitzvos you cannot perform, this alone will grant you the merit to come to the land and do the mitzvos.

“What does Hashem ask of you, only to fear Hashem”. The Gemora wonders “is yiras shomayim such an easy task”? The Gemora answers, “for Moshe it was”. How does this help the rest of the generation? Answers the Dubno Maggid. He heard from the Vilna Gaon that the process of one having influence upon his talmidim, his environment, his generation, could be compared to a large cup surrounded by many little cups. When the large one gets filled to overflowing it automatically pours into the rest. The one who is saturated with Yiras Shomayim will inevitably have influence. The Maggid, in turn, interpreted the above mentioned Gemora. Since, for Moshe it was attainable then the rest of the generation could also have hopes to accomplish a level of yiras shomayim.

The Torah makes a very fundamental comparison to illustrate the goodness of Hashem. In perek 8 possuk 10 it says “you will eat and be satisfied and bless Hashem”. This is the Torah requirement for bircas hamazon, you will be satisfied. Only two passukim further the Torah warns “lest you eat and become satiated … and forget Hashem”. The Torah is sending a message that the “good” could be a double-edged sword and our task is to “bless Hashem” with our wealth.



Previous Parshos

Tazria Metzora Achrei Mos Kedoshim Emor Behar Bechukosai Bamidbar Shavuos Naso Behalosicha Shilach Korach Chukas-Balak Pinchos Matos-Masei Devorim Voeschonon Ekev Reah Shoftim Ki Seitzei Ki Savo Nitzovim - Vayelech Rosh HaShana Haazinu-Yom Kippur Sukkos V'zos HaBrocha Breishis