This Parshah’s name, “Eikev,” means “because”. Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, saying “It shall come to pass, because you hearken to these laws, and keep and do them…”, promising them that if they fulfill the commandments they will prosper in Israel in keeping with G‑d’s promise to their forefathers.
An important component is the nine verses which constitute the second paragraph of the Shema. It repeats the fundamental mitzvot mentioned in the first, included in Va’etchanan last week, and describes the rewards and punishments of fulfilling or neglecting G‑d’s commandments.
But there are 5 key differences:
- The first instructs us to pursue our relationship with G‑d, without promising reward or threatening punishment. The second informs us of the benefits and consequences.
- Rashi notes the commandment to love G‑d is given in the plural (“with all your hearts and with all your souls”) – a message to the community – the plural rather than the singular to the individual in the first.
- In the second section, Rashi notes the commandments to don tefillin, study and teach Torah, and affix mezuzot immediately follow the warning of what will happen if you don’t.
- The first section urges one to love G‑d “with all your heart, …soul and …might.” The second omits “might”.
- In the first section, the commandment to study and teach Torah precedes the commandment to don tefillin, the order is reversed in the second.
The first version simply instructs us to pursue our relationship with G‑d, without promising reward or threatening punishment. The second section, while enjoining us to do the very same things as the first, informs us of the benefits of doing so.
As the Rebbe said, we may acquire something by one of two ways, it may be given to us as a gift, or we may earn it by our own achievement. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. But if we put all our heart, soul and might into something it will be far more precious and rewarding than anything gifted without such effort , and will not give us that sense of personal achievement.