COMMANDMENTS! COMMANDMENTS! COMMANDMENTS!
- We, the Jews, have plenty of those. In fact, it’s quite confusing to keep up with them, whether it be daily, weekly, and yearly. Which one is of more importance? Well, one of the lessons in this week’s Torah reading is that one should not stomp with his feet, or more accurately, heel – alike the ones in which he deems not so important. Because, the commentaries say, those which you think are not so important can very well be significantly crucial in your life. This will be apparently disclosed to us in the olam ha-emet – the world of truth – after 120 years. So a simple washing of the hands with a bracha can earn you a significant amount of brownie points. Another interpretation, if one handles with care the ones which are deemed “insignificant commandments”, then G-d will reward him the same as the difficult commandments.
- A very interesting observation has been brought up by a good friend, David Isaacoff, who quotes Rabbi Dovid Cohen on the topic of Aikev – heel. In terms of the generations, society, we are on the heel, the last stop, before the Mashiach arrives. It’s called Pirud at ikvessi hamashiach – which is intended to prevent the final Jewish souls from being born. This is the reason, in today’s times, there’s a tremendous difficulty to get married and for that matter, stay married. It’s astonishing that we have a large community of singles and a high rate of divorce.
We continue with a topic which we began at the end of the first portion. It says that after one eats and gets satisfied, he should bless G-d right away. Human nature is such that after being satisfied, he tends to feel more confident in himself; that it was his own expertise that led to his success without divine intervention. That’s what a good pastrami sandwich can do to a person. Man tends to rebel against G-d only when he is satisfied and prosperous. If we bless G-d soon after we eat, it would infiltrate the psyche and instill a sense of awareness of G-d’s significance. According to Jewish law, one is not allowed to eat before praying because of this reason. When a person is a little hungry, he is more humbled; this is the ideal frame of mind one should have when praying.
Moshe tells the Israelites, “Don’t think it’s because of your merit that you inherited the land, but rather the promise G-d made to your ancestors Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov. We learn from here the significance of our ancestors. When we pray, we can ask G-d to grant us our request through their merits. It’s a powerful tool to use in order to get our requests granted. One should think of the incidences in which our forefathers persevered, and with that find favor in the eyes of G-d and mention to Him proudly that these are my ancestors. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few of your recently deceased relatives who were righteous and what they have done. Using our ancestors is a powerful method of prayer.
The Jews were instructed to create a temporary temple that is portable. Symbolically, that’s life; we’re here on a temporary basis. In fact, that’s one of the lessons of Succot. We build our huts which lasts us for eight days. In some sense, that’s how we should feel about life, our property, and our physical body. We’re not here that long, therefore we should make the best of this existence.
The basic components of believing in G-d is love and fear. Each one, love and fear, has different levels. One of the basic questions one can ask, how one can love or fear G-d? Well, this is discussed amongst the commentaries throughout the Torah.
Vehaya im shamoah, “and it will come to pass” is the second paragraph of the Shema, the most famous of our prayers. It is connected to the first paragraph of Ve-ahavta because they both have the commandment of “reading it in the morning and night”. Unlike the first paragraph of Shema, ve-ahavta, though, specifies the duty to perform “mitzvoty” my commandments and teaches when the nation is righteous it will be rewarded with success and prosperity. When they sin, however, they must expect poverty and exile. Another connection between the two paragraphs is that it both talks about the acceptance of G-d’s sovereignty.
The Parsha concludes with a warning to be careful to keep the commandments. It also repeats that the Israelites should expel all the nations from their midst. The current inhabitants will not make good neighbors.
Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon