Torah Weekly

For the week ending 20 August 2022 / 23 Av 5782

Parshat Ekev

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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If Bnei Yisrael carefully observe even those "minor" mitzvahs that are usually "trampled" underfoot, Moshe promises them that they will be the most blessed of the nations on earth. Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael that they will conquer Eretz Canaan little by little — so that the land will not be overrun by wild animals in the hiatus before Bnei Yisrael are able to organize and settle the whole land. After again warning Bnei Yisrael to burn all carved idols of Canaanite gods, Moshe stresses that the Torah is indivisible and not open to partial observance.

Moshe describes the Land of Israel as a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and pomegranates, a land of oil-yielding olives and date-honey. Moshe cautions Bnei Yisrael not to become haughty and think that their success in Eretz Yisrael is a result of their own powers or vigor. Rather, it was Hashem who gave them wealth and success. Nor did Hashem drive out the Canaanites because of Bnei Yisrael's righteousness, but rather because of the sins of the Canaanites, for the road from Mount Sinai had been a catalogue of large and small sins and rebellions against Hashem and Moshe.

Moshe details the events after Hashem spoke the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, culminating in his bringing down the second set of Tablets on Yom Kippur. Aharon's passing from this world is recorded, as is the elevation of the Levi'im to be Hashem's ministers. Moshe points out that the 70 souls who went down to Egypt have now become like the stars of heaven in abundance. After specifying the great virtues of the Land of Israel, Moshe says the second paragraph of the Shema, conceptualizing the blessings that accompany keeping mitzvahs, and the curses that result from non-observance.


You’re a Star!

"Hashem, your G-d has multiplied you and behold! — you are like the stars of the heaven in abundance." (1:4)

When the Jewish People fulfill Hashem’s will, they are like the stars. There is no competition or envy among the stars. No star was ever heard to complain that the light of another was brighter than his. Similarly a righteous person is happy with the light that Hashem has bestowed on him, for he knows it is not his own light anyway.

Sometimes the light of a star is not immediately apparent. A cloud of cosmic gas or some other obstruction may mask that light. So too are there are untold numbers of holy people amongst our nation who deliberately hide their light "under a bushel."

And just as the stars will live forever, so is the Jewish People an eternal nation who will radiate the light of Hashem forever.

  • Source: Based on the Sifri in Parshat Ekev

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