Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
This week we read a Torah portion that contains many spiritual lessons like the second paragraph of the Shema as well as Moshe’s speech about what G-d expects of the people when they cross over into the Land.
One glaring difference is in the personal pronoun used mainly in this portion as compared to last week. For example, the first part of the Shema from last week’s portion was written with the singular pronoun, “you.” This week we read the second paragraph and see it written with the plural pronoun, “you.” I would like us to explore this and see what it might say to us spiritually. This is especially important given what happened in Israel this past week and what is going on in our country and communities each day. Deut. 7:12-13 is an example of this, when Israel as a nation kept G-d’s Torah He would bless them and multiply them.
In Israel this week we saw terrible acts of violence carried out by supposedly religious Jewish people against children and families. These acts resulted in the death of three people so far, one an eighteen month old child. Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33, to list only two of many verses, speaks of how the “others” are to be treated. Yeshua gives us His example when He talks to the woman at the well. We as a people, country and community are to be better than what we have seen around us lately. Israel is to be better than the actions we saw there this past week. We are to be partners with the Father to bring healing and the light of G-d into our world. What has happened?
Part of the answer to that question may be that we have lost our intimacy with G-d. Sure we don’t kill our steal but how do we go through our day without paying attention to those little things that maintain our relationship with our husband (G-d). The title of this Torah portion is Ekev, coming from the word for heel. Some spiritual leaders see this as applying to the small, easily overlooked things of G-d. They go unnoticed and are sometimes trampled under foot. They are exactly what binds us to the Father because they are daily experiences in our life. They are those things that a husband or wife would do to show their love for their mate, such as a kind word to someone overlooked by the world or a slowness to anger or judgment. Scripture tells us to be equally diligent in all of G-d’s Word. This keeps us daily, hourly connected with our Maker. This is how we are to live our life.
Think about this, does rain only fall on my little acre of land, or does it fall on everyone around me. We are in this world as members of a people and our physical situation is tied to how the community acts or even how our country acts. Therefore it is very important for each of us to be diligent in being who G-d called us to be where every we find ourselves.
This is how we bless G-d. In Deut. 8:10 we read, “And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless G-d your L-rd for the good land He has given you.” Do you know this is the only place in all of Torah where we read that we should bless G-d? So why here, in connection with eating, do we read these words? We could understand if it said to thank G-d but it says, bless G-d. Why? According to Jewish custom this is tied to the eating of bread. Why is bread different from other food? It takes a partnership of G-d and man to produce bread. Most other foods such as fruit, vegetables, even meat can be consumed with very little input from us except cooking. Bread is different. Making bread requires man to reap, grind, mix the ingredients and cook. The point being that when we partner with G-d something wonderful happens. As G-d’s co-workers we can bless G-d as we develop His creation. This also explains the difference between Mt. Moriah and Mt. Sinai. On Sinai all the people had to do was to listen and agree. G-d brought the fire and smoke. He spoke with words that were seen more than heard. While at Mt Moriah Abraham, through obedience, took his son as an offering. He became an active partner with G-d. As a result Sinai went back to being just a mountain while Moriah became the permanent dwelling place of G-d.
For us G-d desires our blessing that comes from changing this world to reflect Him every day of our life. Our service to Him blesses the Father.