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YIP Parsha Project Parshat Eikev

08/13/2014 11:14:17 AM

Aug13

YIP Parsha Project

 

Parshat Eikev                                                               Chana Leah and Anthony Brehm

Based on a shiur by Rav Moshe Taragin

 

Towards the end of this week’s parsha, Parshat Eikev, Moshe attempts to sum up our mission in life into one pasuk. This pasuk is central to the parsha and Torah  Judaism (Orthodoxy). The verse says, “And now, Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, to go in His ways and to love Him and to serve Hashem with all your heart and soul.” Whew, that is a mouthful, not to mention intense and dense! There is much that can be said about the content of this pasuk, but how it is said is almost, if not, as significant.     

In order to truly appreciate the depth and importance of this statement, we must put it into the correct context, which actually the pasuk does with the addition of a word. It starts with “and NOW,” as we stand at the brink of entering into Eretz Yisrael. This “now” moment is the link between the failures of the last generation  - this pasuk comes shortly after Moshe recounts the rebellions and mistakes done during the 40 years in the desert- and the potential greatness and glory of this generation. At this daunting and promising moment how can we atone for past mistakes and avoid making them in the future. Will we go forward with faith and strength or be stuck in the past, paralyzed by fear?

And the pasuk continues, “What does Hashem ask of you?”    ‘Ask’?! Since when does Hashem ask? G-d commands (metzave), demands (doresh), strongly says (emor), but ask? He is waiting for us to answer. The ball is in our court.

By suggesting or asking, Hashem is firstly telling us that the fear, the love, the service, needs to come from us. We have to want it. Hashem knows that it will make us better, more spiritual people, that it is for our benefit, as the next pasuk clearly states, and that it will enrich our lives. But he does not want to force us, this is not about Him, it’s about us. Furthermore, by commanding, it would appear to take away some of our freedom to choose and this is one area that we have 100% freedom and autonomy, which brings us to the second reason that Hashem is asking us. He is pointing out that in the area of fear of G-d, Hashem is actually powerless. The Talmud states that “everything is in G-d’s hands, except for one’s fear of G-d.” By suggesting instead of commanding, there is no confusion, there is no chance of coercion, this is completely in our hands. Hashem wants what is best for us, so He hopes we will follow, but 1. It needs to come from us - we need to be active in the process and 2. It isn’t in Hashem’s hands anyway.

So what is the take home lesson? We must live life being cognizant of the “now” moments. Yes, living every moment as if we were being recorded for all future generations to see is an unrealistic and intense way to live life. However, life demands that, at times, we stop and reflect at our life situations and appreciate the potential that comes with some of our life decisions. In addition, how often do we ask ourselves,” if only I knew what Hashem wanted from me?” Well here Hashem is letting us know, but he isn’t only giving us a rather daunting list, he is asking us. Hashem is starting the dialogue and waiting for our response and our desire to be close with Him and take steps towards that goal

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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