Weekly Reading Insights: Ekev 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ekev

To be read on 20 Av 5764 (Aug. 7)

Torah: Deut. 7:12-11:25
Haftorah: Isaiah 49:14-51-3 (2nd of the Seven Haftorahs of Consolation)

Ekev is the 3rd Reading out of 11 in Deuteronomy and 46st overall, and 14th out of 54 in overall length.
Pirkei Avot: Chapter Five

Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) opens listing the rewards the Jews receive for keeping G-d's mitzvahs. G-d guarantees to overthrow the kingdoms living in Israel to allow the Jews to live and prosper there. The Jews are warned not to be distracted by physical comforts so as to forget G-d, or they will be punished. Then they are reminded of all the good and miracles G-d performed for them and His forgiving of their numerous provocations, including the sin of the golden calf. Moshe tells how he carved the 2nd tablets and learned Torah with G-d for 40 days and nights. Moshe goes on to praise G-d, encourage the Jews to follow His ways, and recognize His great deeds done on their behalf. The Land of Israel receives G-d's constant attention. G-d will cause good rains to fall (as well as other rewards) if the Jews keep His commandments (verses 11:13-21 are the second paragraph of Shma).


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:46-64/Ekev)

"Gadol" is one of the names of the sefira of chesed; a person is only as important as the amount of kindness that he does.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:46-64/Ekev)

Evil possesses no intrinsic power; it derives its power solely by virtue of man's misdeeds. However, in the present order, it must be present to at least some minimal extent in order for there to be free choice.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:46-64/Ekev)

Greatness equates with humility because the truly great keep finding out how much is beyond their ability to ever comprehend. The ultimate wisdom we can acquire is the knowledge that we know very little. "

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"And fed you with manna, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone." (Deut. 8:3)
When the Jewish people ate the manna in the desert, the "bread from heaven," they understood that it was a super-natural phenomenon, i.e., that their sustenance came from the G-dly spark the manna contained. Likewise, even when eating "bread from the earth," we should be aware that it is not the physical components of the bread that sustain us but the G-dliness therein.
(Keser Shem Tov)

"And now, Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d require of you but to fear the L-rd your G-d…." (Deut. 10:12)
From the way this verse is worded, one would think that this command is easy. Yet the Talmud asks, "Is fearing G-d really such an easy thing to do?" For Moses, the answer goes, it was easy. But how does this help the average Jew? Every Jewish soul, without exception, contains an aspect of Moses; with the help of this element, fear of G-d is attainable by all Jews.


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:46-64/Ekev)

This week's Torah portion begins "Ekev tishma'un". "Tishma'un" means 'you will hear'. "Ekev" literally means 'heel', the lowest part of the body. The verse has a dual meaning. First that just like the heel is the end of the body, so also, in the 'end' we WILL hear the message that G-d is trying to communicate to us-that He wants us to serve Him. The second meaning is that this message will permeate our entire being, even to the coarse heel.

The Rebbe Rayatz connects this to our generation which is called 'ikveta d'meshicha'-'the heel of Moshiach'. The same dual meaning applies here. First, that we are the very last of all the generations since Moshiach is going to come in this generation, please G-d. And also we are the lowliest of all the generations in spiritual strength.

The Rebbe writes that the message to us, as the heel of Moshiach, is for us to know that we are like the heel! What relationship does a heel have with wisdom, with high and sophisticated ideas? Yes, we study Torah, and we even get excited about the amazing ideas we learn, but we have to know that it is part illusion-that on an essential level as the lowest and least of all of the generations, true wisdom is far from us. A heel is not connected to wisdom. A heel has to know that what is most important for it is to DO. Our goal is to act!

Yet, even if we are the lowest generation, just as the whole body is supported by the heel, so all of the previous generations are dependent upon us, the 'Heel of Moshiach', since it is our efforts that will bring Moshiach! Nevertheless, the heel is closest to the ground, always in danger of becoming dirty or collecting negative influences, sweat, involvement in the physical world. This is the reason we constantly need to redouble our efforts to physically involve ourselves with holiness. The more divine light we bring into the world, the more of the negative we can push away.

We see this duality of humility (see the commentary of the Shlah on the parsha) and great purpose at the end of the Torah portion. Usually there are seven segments read from the Torah portion (aliyahs), and then an eighth aliyah called maftir which repeats that last few verses read from the seventh aliyah. Maftir is considered to be the lowest of all the aliyahs, therefore the Talmud (Megilla 23a) and Jewish law say that maftir may be given to a child; hence the custom to give it to Bar Mitzvah boys. In parshat Ekev, the seventh aliyah describes how performing G-d's will guarantees our strength. It is a phenomenal call to action and very empowering. And yet, unusually, maftir of Ekev is a repeat of all the verses from the seventh aliyah. The lowest aliyah of maftir is a repeat of some of the portions most powerful verses-demonstrating the duality of humility and strength.

In parshat Ekev, the lesson is for us to "Hear" G-d's message, and then no obstacle will be able to stand before us. Success is guaranteed! The second lesson is to be like a humble heel. May we all actualize both humility and great purpose together in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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