Torah Portion: Ekev(Because) D’varim (Deut) 7:12-11:25
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
The Torah portion this week contains so many issues that should inspire us in our walk with the Father. Here we find the second paragraph of the Shema in Deut. 11:13-21, the description of the Land of Israel and G-d’s presence always looking after it in Deut. 11:10 through chapter 12.
I would like to start with the question of the week. First, to define the word Ekev is somewhat difficult. Its very basic meaning is heel. We encounter it in the naming of Ya’acov/Jacob. He was given his name because he was grasping the heel of his brother Esau when they were born. Here in our portion we see it translated as “because” or “as a result of.” This word is used like this twice in the book of D’Varim/Deut.. It was used here in the opening verse of this Torah portion and in Deut. 8:20. It gives us the meaning of “because you did… this will happen,” or because you didn’t do… this will happen. We see it used like this also in Matthew 7:24-27.
There is also another way to look at this word. Here in our verse following Ekev we see an emphasis on doing and living by G-d’s Word, especially in the small insignificant things, the small things that go overlooked in our life sometimes. It is relatively easy for us to be faithful in the big things but we can get caught ignoring the small things.
I read an article this week that bears this out. Why do couples get divorced? It seems the major reason is a loss of intimacy. When couples first get married there is that time when they feel their partner is the only person who really understand them However, over time this sense of specialness to each other is lost. Our faith works the same way. So the question is, how do we cultivate intimacy with G-d? Couples that stay together are able to cultivate intimacy by being attentive to the small things such as showing affection, kind words spoken at the right time. These acts show the other person you are thinking of them through the day.
So if we look at Deut. 7:12-13 from this stand point, the Torah is saying that as in our earthly relationships with our spouses, we are also to be diligent in showing our love for the Father. In our marriage relationship with Him we must make time for the small things. It takes more than once a week meetings. He must be ever before us as we do the small things each day. These acts will build an unbreakable bond between us and the Heavenly Father. We know His will in everything by learning to hear. We learn to hear by taking the time to learn to listen. Our society is built mainly on seeing. Our language even shows this with words like, “I see, insight, foresight, hind sight, illustrate, illuminate and we even shed light on an issue.”
However when we read scripture what is stressed? “Shema” meaning to listen or pay attention, understand, internalize, obey, or respond. Like here in our portion Shema is used that we will be able to understand and do those small things as well as the big things. We will live a life of doing, not just a spectator of seeing in life. This word Shema is used 92 times in this book alone.
Our life must be one of doing. Each day we are faced with people and situations that afford us the opportunity to do something that will brighten a person’s day or bring light into darkness. As we begin each day we can resolve to be “in the moment” with G-d as we encounter the world and allow him to direct us to make a difference and connect with people in a holy way. We can hear that still small voice as Elijah did when G-d spoke to him on the mountain in I Kings 19:11-3. Each day G-d gives us opportunities to do the small things in life.
There is something profoundly spiritual in listening, being attentive to the still small voice of G-d. It lies at the very heart of our relationship with Him and with people also. Our relationship with people, in many ways, reflects our relationship with G-d.
A great orator may move crowds, but lives are changed by listeners. Listening is the prelude to love between people and also between us and G-d. In Zech 4:10 it says, “do not despise these small beginnings.” I pray each of us will take the time to listen to the Father and by that be able to “Shema” the people around us. We may not have an answer to their issues but we for sure should be able to listen to the questions. May G-d give each of us opportunities this coming week to touch lives and to listen.