Torah Portion: Ekev (Because/Heed) Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Tonight we read the Torah portion Ekev. This is an interesting word to be used in that its literal meaning is heel. If you remember the Patriarch Jacob, his name comes from this word because he held on to Esau’s heel at birth. He was tenacious and would not let go, a quality that we see later in his life when he struggles with the angel at the brook. Maybe this gives us insight into what Moses is telling us in this Torah portion. I feel G-d is telling us to not give up but to hold on to those things of G-d. We need to make an effort in maintaining our relationship with Him. I think you will see this through out this section.
Let me apply this to a common problem we see in our country and really around the world – divorce. Statistics have shown that the main reason for divorce is the loss of affection or intimacy. When we feel close we are more apt to be able to weather storms. Apply this to our faith or relationship with G-d. Now how do we cultivate intimacy between us and G-d, or for that matter between us and our spouse? Again, the same idea applies to both. It is those little things during the day, words of affection, spending time together, telling G-d/spouse of our love and then living that out through the day. Here in this Torah section Moses tells the people as much. By keeping and doing these things of G-d, that connection of intimacy will be maintained. We will seek to do His will and our day will be focused on how to please Him. Our relationship has to be more than just doing or remembering the big things like attending Saturday night meetings or remembering to celebrate the major holidays. It must be day to day, hour to hour, only like this do we cultivate our love and intimacy with G-d or our spouse. Everything we do to keep our love alive, these connect us with Him. Without it we grow apart and become cold to our first love. We must maintain this connection even in the difficult times. We can’t afford to become lax in our attention to our relationship with Him. We must guard those small things we do such as praying, studying, listening and not let it become just something we have to do. We need to be remember why we first loved Him and keep that fire burning and not let the little things fall into being just a habit. By this we are in affect saying to G-d/spouse that no matter what we are still there and even in difficulties we maintain our love. So we see this intimacy stressed over and over again through out this Torah section.
Even in verses like Deut. 8:11-17 they teach us that even in the good times, maybe especially then, do not forget this relationship. Remember where you came from and who you are. It is not because of the work of your hands but rather because G-d loves you and blesses you that you have come to this time of plenty. When things are good we sometimes relax and forget those little things that keep our relationship strong. In Deut. 11:13 we read, “If you hear and listen.” Here two Hebrew words are written which have the same root, “Shema” and “Tishma,” stressing that important as hearing is to actually listen is also important. Our relationship with G-d/spouse is one of more than just hearing but also listening. Listening involves understanding and paying attention. We hear a million things a day but we must pay special attention to listen. Such is how it is with G-d/spouse. Both of these words imply a partnership. First we hear, then we process what we have heard. We find the answer when we listen. Our challenge is the choices we make with what we have heard. We can choose to disregard it or we can listen and act upon what we hear. Our days are filled with choices. Our challenge is to make the choice to grow, to be closer to G-d or to go our own way and drift away from Him.
My prayer is that we all make the right choice and grow in our faith and not become distant from our Maker.