Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 )
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GOOD MORNING! It is Jewish tradition that if one wants to understand the spiritual substrates of what is going on in the world, he should look to the Torah portion of the week. As we were reading the portion of V'etchanan this past Shabbat, it was apparent the relevance of several verses to the current events in Israel. For example:
"You shall observe His decrees and His commandments that I command you this day, so that He will do good to you and to your children after, and so that you will prolong your days on the Land that the Lord, your God, gives you, for all the days." (Deuteronomy 4:40)
In this week's Torah portion, Aikev, which is also in the Shema:
"For if you will observe this entire commandment that I command you, to perform it, to love the Almighty, your God, to walk in all His ways and to cleave to Him, the Almighty will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will drive out greater and mightier nations than yourselves." (Deuteronomy 11:22-23)
The Jewish people are one entity. If one's hand is hurt, one doesn't say, "What difference does it make? It is just my hand." Your hand is a part of you. If a Jew in Israel is hurting, he or she is also part of us. The Talmud, Shavuous 39B states: "Kol Yisrael araivim zeh b’zeh" – "All Jews are responsible for one another." At Mt. Sinai our souls stood together and pledged personal responsibility for each other.
There are two main thrusts that will give the Jewish people and Israel the merit to vanquish our enemies. First, is our love and concern for each other. The second is our own level of observance of the mitzvot. In truth, the two are intertwined - if we love and are concerned for our fellow Jews in Israel, then we will contribute to care for the refugees from the north who are seeking safety elsewhere in the country; we will pray and say Tehillim (Psalms) for them; we will increase our performance of mitzvot.
What practical steps can we take? In the Yom Kippur prayers we are told that "Three things remove an evil decree - Teshuva (correcting our deeds), Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedakah (giving charity)." The best way to help the situation in Israel is to do more mitzvot, particularly learning Torah. Here are 5 things we can do:
- Do you have a mezuzah on at least your front door? (A mezuzah is actually the scroll within the case which must be handwritten by a trained scribe on kosher parchment.) As it says in this week's Torah portion and in the mezuza:
"And you shall write them upon the doorpost of your house and upon your gates. In order to lengthen your days and the days of your children upon the Land that the Almighty has sworn to your forefathers to give them, like the days of the heaven on the earth."
You can purchase one from your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. If you need instructions on putting it up, just ask.
- Set aside a "pushka" for tzedakah - a can or a jar to place coins or bills in for charity. At least once a day put a coin in for charity. If you have children, give them a coin to place in the pushka, too.
- Designate at least 5 minutes a day to read a page in the Chumash (5 Books of Moses) from the current week's Torah portion. (You'll find out a lot more than I am sharing with you...) If you're buying one, I suggest the Artscroll Stone edition which has an excellent translation and commentary.
- Read Psalms for the merit of our brothers and sisters in Israel. Chapters 83,121,130 are especially appropriate.
- Look at your own life, your own deeds and behavior, your own mitzvah observance. What can you improve? Set a plan. Set goals. Perhaps read To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin.
If you are looking to provide relief for families fleeing from the North of Israel to escape the Hezbollah's rockets and missiles, then Jerusalem Fellowships and Migdal Ohr deserve your support. They are caring for hundreds of families. See their websites to learn more and to donate: http://www.goisrael.org/help and http://www.migdalohr.org
For more on "Observing Mitzvot" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Moshe continues his soliloquy guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success lest that we forget and ignore God.
Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness ("Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to occupy this land ... but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you.") He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments after the sin of the Golden Calf.)
This week's portion dispels a common misconception. People think that "Man does not live by bread alone" means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is:
"Man does not live by bread alone, but by all that comes out of God's mouth." (Deut. 8:3)
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you?
"Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God's commandments and decrees ... so that all good will be yours." (Deut. 10:12).
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Before entering the land of Israel at the end of 40 years wandering in the desert, Moses speaks to assuage the fear in the heart of the people:
"If you will say in your heart, these nations are more numerous than we, how can we conquer them? Do not fear them, remember what the Almighty, your God, did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 7:17-18)
How will this lessen their worry?
Worry is being afraid that in a future situation you will not be able to cope. (It is also interest paid in advance on a debt which oftentimes never comes due.) Remembering how the Almighty has helped you in similar situations in the past makes it easier to trust in Him in the present. Thus, Moses had the Jewish people focus on how the Almighty dealt with the Egyptians. Likewise, whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, ask yourself, "When has the Almighty already shown me that He can help me overcome a difficulty similar to this?" It will increase your calm and your trust in God.
CANDLE LIGHTING - August 11
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:12 - Hong Kong 6:40 - Honolulu 6:46
J'Burg 5:27 - London 8:13 - Los Angeles 7:27
Melbourne 5:23 - Mexico City 6:49 - Miami 7:43
New York 7:52 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 8:10
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Don't tell God how big your problems are;
tell your problems how big God is
In Loving Memory of
To my beloved sister
who fought so hard and
continues to do it
as if she were fighting for my life!
-- Aaron D. Kaplan