Torah Weekly

For the week ending 20 August 2011 / 19 Av 5771

Parshat Ekev

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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If Bnei Yisrael carefully observe even those "minor" mitzvot that are usually "trampled" underfoot, Moshe promises them that they will be the most blessed of the nations of 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 Sinai had been a catalogue of large and small sins and rebellions against Hashem and Moshe. Moshe details the events after Hashem spoke the 10 Commandments at Sinai, culminating in his bringing down the second set of Tablets on Yom Kippur. Aharon's passing is recorded as is the elevation of the levi'im to Hashem's ministers. Moshe points out that the 70 souls who went down to Egypt have now become like the stars of the heaven in abundance. After specifying the great virtues of the Land of Israel, Moshe speaks the second paragraph of the Shema, conceptualizing the blessings that accompany keeping mitzvot and the curse that results from non-observance.


Love Has No Because

"what does Hashem, your G-d ask of youand to love Him. (10:12)

Do you know the most frightening thing in the world? Do you know the thing that frightens more people than the nine oclock news, than a call from the IRS or their mother-in-law?


Love is the most frightening thing in the world. Because love means letting someone else inside. Love means connecting, connecting to something outside myself, to my spouse, to my family, to G-d. Nothing is more frightening than connecting and nothing is more essential.

For love is the essence of the creation. G-d created the world because He loves us. Why does He love us? Because He loves us.

Everything in this world has a reason, everything in this world has a cause except for love. Love is its own reason. Love is its own cause, its own effect. The reason you love someone is because you love them. If theres a reason why you love them, thats not love. When the reason goes away the love goes away. So really it wasnt love at all.

When you build a building you start with the smallest indivisible part a brick.

When you build the world, you start with its smallest indivisible part love.

Nothing is more indivisible than something where cause and effect are identical like love. Love is the smallest indivisible part of the Creation. Thats why the world starts with love.

The foundation of the whole Torah is love. Loving G-d isnt just an individual mitzvah ("And you will love Hashem, your G-d" Devarim 5:5), it is the root of all the mitzvot, the foundation of Creation.

The Torah is G-ds love-letter to the world. It is the way He connects with us, and we with Him. When we learn Torah we are connecting. When we stop learning, the connection breaks. Learning Torah in stops-and-starts isnt Torah. Torah is the eternal connection. It cannot cease. When we stop and start our learning we distort the nature of Torah itself. For Torah isnt knowledge, its love. When you really love someone, you dont turn the love off and on.

Torah isnt like other learning. When you learn science or French or photography, once youve learned what you need to know, you can stop learning. But Torah isnt knowledge its love.

When you stop learning, you stop the connection.

You stop the love.


  • Pirkei Avot 5:16; based on Daat Torah

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