Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) D’varim(Deut.) 7-11
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
This week we read a Torah portion so full of beautiful verses and spiritual insight it is hard to know where to begin. First, I have a question for you. What can we learn about Israel from this Torah portion? Look at chapter 8:7-9 and chapter 11:9-12. In these verses we see G-d cares for the Land. His eyes are always on it. He waters it with the rain of heaven. It flows with milk and honey and is blessed in every way. It is the inheritance of His people. It is part of the everlasting covenant between the nation of Israel and G-d. They may be scattered because of disobedience but G-d will and is gathering them home. The Haftorah this week, Isaiah 49:14-51:3, talks of this gathering and also our place and part to play in this event. This is one of the founding principles of Road to Zion, to be a part of this process and to help in any way we can.
Now let us look at some of the spiritual truths we can glean from this Torah section. I would like to start with my question about the fear of G-d. What is our definition of “fear of G-d?” It means holding G-d in awe and reverence. It does not mean to be afraid of G-d. So let’s look a little deeper into this word to see what spiritual insight we might gain. In Proverbs 28:14 we read, a direct translation from the Hebrew, “fortunate is the man who is constantly afraid” and in Isaiah 33:14 “Those from Zion who are afraid are sinners.” How are these two verses to be reconciled? I think the best way is to look at these two verses based on our understanding of fear of G-d. When Isaiah wrote his verse Israel was facing a mighty enemy. Isaiah was saying when we are afraid of things over which we have no control it is a sin. Why? Things like this are completely in G-d’s hands. To be afraid is to doubt G-d’s ability to bring us through whatever tomorrow brings. We must pray and prepare but our faith should be in Him to take us through whatever comes. It may mean suffering. In our Torah portion, Deut. 8:3-5, we read several verses about the suffering Israel went through in the desert and how this suffering had a purpose. In Deut. 8:5 we read about G-d’s purpose in punishment. What is it? It is not to harm us but to help us to grow in our spiritual life. It is to mature us. When we punish our children it must always be from love and not anger. Our goal must be to help them to mature into a child of G-d. So when G-d allows us to undergo things that seem hard it is because He knows more than we and He has a purpose.
This brings me back to Proverbs 28:14. I think this verse is speaking of a fear that can be used to guard us from sin. How? This is a fear that we might fail G-d in our spiritual lives. Here we do have control. We make those decisions of how to behave and what to be involved in. We have control over how we spend our time. We are the responsible one. These are our decisions and fear of G-d, our concept of His awesomeness, is our guiding light. Do we dare do or participate in something that will harm our relationship with Him? Do we dare say something that will cast a bad light on His Holy Name? This we should fear. And that fear is based on us and our choices. This all relates to the verse 8:6 in our portion today. We are to walk in His ways. We are to do His will for our lives each day and our desire to do that, to please Him, should out weigh any actions or thoughts of ours which would damage our relationship with Him.
So in summary do not fear those things that you have no control over. The Babylonians were at the wall when Isaiah wrote his words. You do what you can but the outcome is purely in the hands of G-d.
Rather fear doing anything that would damage you and your relationship to G-d. In those spiritual matters you do have a choice and with G-d’s help we will always strive to make the correct choice because we fear harming our Father’s name among the nations.