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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Deuteronomy/Dvarim - Ekev 101
Posted September, 2000
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Parashat Ekev encompasses Perek Zayin, pasuk yud-bet (Chapter 7, verse 12) through Perek Yud-Aleph, pasuk chav-hay (Chapter 11, verse 25).  In the previou Parashah, Va'etchanan, there was a discussion concerning individual rewards.  In Ekev, we now consider the rewards to Klal Yisrael as a nation.

This Parashah begins in a most interesting way.  According to the Stone Edition Chumash translation, it says:

12. This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances, and you observe and perform them; Hashem, your God, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers:

13. He will love you, bless you and multiply you, and He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your Land; your grain, your wine, and your oil; the offspring of your cattle and the flocks of your sheep and goats; on the Land that He swore to your forefathers to give you:

14. You will be the most blessed of all the peoples; there will be no infertile male or infertile female among you nor among your animals:

15. Hashem will remove from you every illness; and all the bad maladies of Egypt that you knew -- He will not put them upon you, but will put them upon all your foes:

16. You will devour all the peoples that Hashem, your God, will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them; you shall not worship their gods, for it is a snare for you:

17. Perhaps you will say in your heart, "These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?":

18. Do not fear them! You shall remember what Hashem, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt:

19. The great tests that your eyes saw, and the signs, the wonders, the strong hand, and the outstretched arm with which Hashem, your God, took you out -- so shall Hashem, your God, do to all the peoples before whom you fear:

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch comments in the following way:

Whereas in the preceding it was explained that in individual lives the reward for the good deeds of the really good people does not mature in their own lifetimes on earth, here the rich material blessings which will accrue to the nation from a national life kept true to the Torah are described as being the result of such a life, but not as a goal to be aimed at.  Accordingly all the commands of the Torah are here classed together under the one concept of mishpatim (trials - in the legal sense).  At rock bottom they are all nothing but "legal maxims" with which the most varied conditions and relationships of the spiritual and material life of the individual and state have to be carried out, so that they are of the world.  As such, as the duty we owe to what is right, for which no thanks and no reward can be claimed, are they to be carried out.  But they all correspond so deeply to the nature and purpose of things and men, and they are all so much in harmony with each other, that, by their being faithfully carried out by the nation, a condition of the richest blessings of a national existence on earth emerges.  This result which was not what was striven for, but which comes automatically by itself is called eikev, literally the "heel."  It is that which follows obedience, not what went before, not what obedience had in eye.  Hence our sages attach to this verse the most searching teachings as to the frame of mind in which the Torah expects us to fulfill its dictates, that we are not to weigh the separate Mitvas in our minds to consider which Mitzva would probably expect a larger reward so that we pay particular attention to that one.  The paths of the Torah form an ever widening circle in which they overlap each other and lose themselves one to another.

There are two concepts were noting in this commentary and in these first few pasukim of the Parashah.  One concept is that the Torah is taken as a whole, not broken down into any particular single this or that, or groups of this and that.  The second point, which is less obvious, is that Klal Yisrael exists as a unit not as a group of individuals.  It success and blessings affect all, just as the withdrawal of rewards is also experienced by all.

________

Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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