Torah Weekly

For the week ending 4 August 2018 / 23 Av 5778

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 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 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 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.


You’ve Got a Friend

“Only your forefathers did G-d cherish to love them, and He chose their offspring after them — you — from among all the peoples, as this day.” (10:15)

“For those of my generation who do not, and cannot, comprehend why Facebook exists: I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles. Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later and with whom. I give them pictures of my family, my dog, of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch, and doing what everybody does every day. I also listen to their conversations and give them “thumbs up” and tell them I “like” them. And it works just like Facebook. I already have four people following me: two police officers, a private investigator, and a psychiatrist.”

I lol’ed (laughed-out-loud) when a friend of mine sent me the above. But after a little reflection, I thought to myself about how sad are the superficial relationships that pass for friendship in the Brave New Web.

Being a Jew means having the Ultimate Friend. “Only your forefathers did G-d cherish to love them, and He chose their offspring after them — you — from among all the peoples, as this day.”

The Kotzker Rebbe once said that if we really understood what it meant to be Jewish we would be beside ourselves with joy, and we would rush out into the street and start to do the Kezatzke (Cossack dance).

When a person doesn’t have a real relationship with G-d, but rather just “friends” Him, then also his relationships with his fellow mortals will be brittle, superficial and manipulative.

How does one build a real relationship with G-d?

I found the following works for me.

I printed out some cards (and some magnetic fridge stickers) with the following inscription:

I want to be close to G-d

because He made the world

and He made me too

and He wants to be close to me

and so I want to be close to Him too.

I said it out loud once or twice a day. I know it seems trite — but it works.

There’s nothing like the feeling of closeness to G-d. As the Chazon Ish once wrote, “There is no sadness in the world for someone who knows the light of truth.”

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