Eikev -Total Permeation
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Shabbat ends 8:37
EIKEV - TOTAL PERMEATION
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs
Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Eikev. The portion begins with the promise that for keeping the Mitzvot (commandments) in a manner of Eikev (which we will shortly translate), Hashem will fulfill his covenant with us, bless us, show us His kindness, we will be blessed above all of the nations, and freed from all sickness and evil. The Targum explains that the word Eikev means in exchange, meaning that as a reward for studying and adhering to the Mitzvot, we will merit all of the blessings.
The general translation of the word Eikev is heel. (Eikev is the root of the name Yaakov, who was so named because he was born holding on to Esav’s heel.) The translation of the Targum is related to the term “heel” and would mean in the heels of, i.e. as a result of. As the Torah uses this specific term, there is a lesson to be learned from the “heel.” Rashi therefore explains that fulfilling the commandments in a manner of Eikev refers to a level of observance where one keeps even those seemingly insignificant Mitzvot that many people tread upon with their heels. The Tzemach Tzedek explains that Eikev refers to the final generation before Moshiach’s coming, who are referred to as the “generation of the heels of Moshiach,” and that the verse is assuring us that the generation of redemption will fully return to Torah observance.
When the commentaries give varying explanations of one word, there is a connection between them. As we stand imminently before Moshiach’s coming, there is a greater need to fulfill even the “insignificant” Mitzvot than previously for two reasons. Firstly, the reason that this generation is referred to as the heels of Moshiach is because we are less sensitive than previous generations. If we attempt to approach Torah with our own wisdom and rely upon ourselves to weigh what is and is not important, we will err. This is also alluded to in the term the “heels of Moshiach”- the job of a heel is to walk, not to judge. Secondly, as we make the final preparations for Moshiach’s arrival and the world approaches perfection, even the slightest detail becomes very significant.
A deeper meaning of fulfilling the Mitzvot in a manner of Eikev is that the Mitzvot should permeate our total being until our heels. This comes through diligent study of the deeper meaning of the Mitzvot. It is therefore significant that the passing of the Rebbe’s father, whose teachings in Kabbalah and Chassidut illuminate our awareness of the deeper side of Torah, falls out on the twentieth of Av, which is this Shabbat.
The Rebbe has told a poignant story of his father, which demonstrates fulfilling a Mitzvah to the utmost. Reb Levi Yitzchok was a highly respected Rabbi. The communist government wanted to make money by selling Matzot, and ordered him to give his Hashgachah (supervision), knowing that people would trust him. He responded that he would be happy to give his Hashgachah, if in fact the Matzot were Kosher! He proceeded to tell them all that was necessary. They responded that this would cost the government too much money, and if he refused, he was hurting the revolution and subject to imprisonment. He stood firm, and the communist government was forced to produce true Kosher Matzot.
From the fifteenth of Av it is appropriate to express our good wishes for the coming year. May Hashem grant each of you, your family, and all of those who are dear to you a good and sweet new year overflowing with joy, health, and happiness and may we merit the to hear the Shofar of Moshiach this year!
In Memory of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, the Rebbe’s father whose Yahrtzeit is this Shabbat. May his teachings illuminate our lives and his merit hasten the redemption and elicit Hashem’s blessings for the entire Jewish people.
The Talmud teaches that from the fifteenth of Av and forward, the nights get longer. Whoever uses the extra time to add in Torah study will receive an extra measure of blessing. In this spirit, this week is a double D’var Torah.
Mezuzah-Hashem is Our Guardian
May Hashem grant peace and security to the land of Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world and grant you a wonderful new year brimming with good health, good tidings, prosperity and fulfillment and may this year be the year of Moshiach’s coming.
One of the Mitzvot in both in last week’s and this week’s portion is the Mezuzah. The Mezuzah is placed on each of the doorposts of our home and business and serves as a constant reminder to serve Hashem with love and follow His commandments. The Mezuzah contains the Shema, the unity of G-d and the V’haya im Shamoa, the imperative to follow His commandments. It also reminds us of Hashem’s constant protection. The Divine name Sha-dai on the back of the Mezuzah, which means G-d A-lmighty, is an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael, the Guardian of the doors of the Jewish people. Chassidut teaches that the Mezuzah symbolizes the unity between Hashem and the Jewish people. The word mezuzah contains the words Zu and Zeh, the feminine and masculine of the word “this.” Zu refers to the Jewish people as we find in the verse “Am zu yatzarti lee” (I have formed this people for myself) and Zeh refers to Hashem as we find in the verse “Zeh Ei-li v’anvahu” (This is my G-d and I will extol him.) This unity as one has a special connection to the Shabbats following the ninth of Av which represent the renewed bond after the destruction. Another meaning represents the effort to bring forth our Divine nature. M as a prefix in Hebrew means from. Mezuzah means from Zu to Zeh: taking from the Jewish people and making ourselves closer to Hashem
Our home is our private sanctum. We have the potential to illuminate our surroundings and that the surrounding world will enrich our lives. We also have the risk that the confusions of our surroundings will disturb our sanctum and our inner treasures will disappear. The Mezuzah guards the passage. When we constantly remind ourselves of the unity of Hashem and that through His directions we enrich our lives, we assure that the passage in and out of our sanctum is directed in a manner to elicit Hashem’s blessings. This awakens Hashem’s protection and brings blessings into every aspect of our lives.
The Gemarra relates an interesting story concerning the Mezuzah. Onkelos, the author of the Targum, was a convert and was a nephew of the emperor. His uncle was very upset at Onkelos’ conversion, and sent guards to bring him back. Having deeply studied Judaism before he converted, he convinced the guards the truth of the Torah and the folly of idolatry and they converted. The emperor tried again, with the same results. He sent a third group of guards with strict orders to take Onkelos and not to speak to him. Ads they left Onkelos house, he kissed the Mezuzah. The guards asked him what he did, and he explained that the emperor needs guards outside his palace to watch him. My King, Hashem, watches me by the door and protects me both inside the house and when I travel. They asked him to explain, and also converted. His uncle gave up.
Throughout Jewish history, it has been known that Kosher Mezuzot increase Hashem’s protection. The word Mezuzot has the same letter as Zaz Mavet, which means death moving away. Thousands of people who requested blessings of the Rebbe were advised to check their Mezuzot. When they corrected their Mezuzot, their problems went away. It is a well-established custom to check the Mezuzot before Rosh Hashana. With the perils in Israel and throughout the world, Kosher Mezuzot on every Jewish door is and imperative. Everyone should check their Mezuzot and make sure they are placed properly. If we have friends who need Mezuzot, we must encourage them to get Kosher Mezuzot. This will increase Hashem’s protection in Israel and throughout the world.
May Hashem open the Gates of Heaven to our prayers and the may we see the Doors of the Holy Temple with the coming of Moshiach.
Dedicated in fond Memory of Harav Yosef Yitzchok Ben Shraga Feivel Raksin HY”D
May Hashem grant him a perfect place in Gan Eden and send comfort and strength to his family who are reeling from this tragedy
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