The simple meaning of the Hebrew word EKEV is “because”. “Because” we fulfill the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah, we will prosper in the Land we are about to conquer and settle in keeping with G‑d’s promise and our forefathers.
In Hebrew there are other words which mean “because”: KEY, BIGLAL, MIPNEY, MICHEIVAN. Why does the Torah choose the word EKEV? Rashi explains that EKEV means a heel. We shouldn’t “step upon” certain commandments with our “heel” and that we should do our best to fulfill all of the mitzvot.
In parashah Ekev, Mosheh continues to speak to the Israelites; the blessings of obedience to God, the dangers of forgetting God, (they will have to wipe out the people who are not believers in God), and directions for taking, conquering, and settling, in the Land of Israel.
Mosheh reminds them not to forget God’s commandments even after they enter the land of Israel and that they must continue to fear God. Mosheh also rebukes them for the failings in their first generation as a people; recalls Mount Sinai, receiving the Tablets of Stone, their worship of the Golden Calf, the rebellion of Korach, the sin of the spies, Aaron’s death, the Levites’ duties, giving warnings to serve God. “You have been rebellious against G‑d,” he says to them, “since the day I knew you.”
Mosheh reminds them of G‑d’s forgiveness of their sins, inscribing the Second Tablets following their repentance. G‑d also sustained them with daily manna from heaven during their forty years in the desert. Mosheh describes the land they are about to enter as “flowing with milk and honey,” blessed with the “seven kinds” (wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olive oil and dates). Commanding them to destroy all idols.
The black dot
One day, a professor entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.
The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.
To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions–just a black dot in the center of the paper. The professor, seeing the expression on everyone’s faces, told them the following:
“I want you to write about what you see there.”
The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams and started reading each one of them out loud in front of all the students. All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet.
After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain:
“I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same thing happens in our lives.
However, we insist on focusing only on the black dot – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend.
The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds.
“Because”, cause and effect is being conveyed in parashat Ekev. May we all be able to read between the lines. Hear the rests in between a melody. May we all be able to take our eyes away from the black dots in our lives. Kol Tuv.
7 Mitzvot in parashat Ekev
|1. Not to derive benefit from ornaments of idols Deut. 7:25|
|2. Not to derive benefit from idols and their accessories Deut. 7:26|
|3. To bless the Almighty after eating Deut. 8:10|
|4. To love converts Deut. 10:19|
|5. To fear Him Deut. 10:20|
|6. To cleave to those who know Him Deut. 10:20|
|7. To swear in God’s Name to confirm the truth when deemed necessary by court Deut. 10:20|