The word “Ekev”, the name of this week’s Parsha, can be translated as “since” or “because,”. It is associated with another Hebrew word, “Akeiv”, meaning “heel.”
Mel Lawson August 2019
I’d like to dedicate this Dvar Torah to the memory of my mum Faige bat Shimon Halevi
Cast your mind back to Shemot Chapter 4 verse 10 to the story of Moshe at the burning bush talking to God and saying “LO ISH D’VARIM ANOCHI” ....... “I am not a man of words -..................... I find it difficult to speak and find the right language”.
On the seven Shabbatot between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashanah we read the seven Haftarot of Consolation. Each Haftarah is from the Book of Isaiah – Yishaya or Yeshayahu, meaning ‘G-d is salvation’. Yishaya was one of our greatest prophets, the son of Amotz, who was the brother of Amatziah, a King of Yehudah. He was born in Yerushalayim, around the year 3000 (761 BCE), in the era of the first Beit Hamikdash. According to Rabbi Daniel Biton, of Hama’or, Yishaya lived to be 120, and is buried in Kfar Bara’am in the Galil.
A key passage in this week’s Parshah is the second chapter of the Shema, which repeats the fundamental mitzvot enumerated in the Shema’s first chapter and describes the rewards of fulfilling G-d’s commandments and the adverse results (famine and exile) of their neglect. Last week’s Parshah included the first paragraph. So that got me thinking about the Shema and I was directed to some of the laws of saying the Shema which I’ll share here.
In Eikev, Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel promising them that if they will fulfill the commandments of the Torah they will prosper in the land they are about to enter, describing it as “zavat halav u‘dvash” ,“flowing with milk and honey”. But what does this really mean?
The Sidra Ekev begins in the middle of chapter 7. It is a continuation of Moses epic address which he began in the previous Sidra of Va'etchannan. The basic theme of chapter 7 is about the conquest of the land from the seven nations who occupied it before the Israelites came. The last verses of the previous Sidra speak about the covenant. This continues into the Sidra of Ekev. The reason that the rabbis of the Masorah divided the Sidrot at this point is because of the introductory verb VEHAYA. The rabbis of the Midrash regarded This Word as signifying a new and happy beginning.
A major theme running through this Sedra is one of consequences – the consequence of reward for obedience, and of punishment for disobedience. Many of the verses follow the condition that if B’nei Yisrael observe God’s laws, they will be rewarded and if they sin they will be punished. Rewards include the prolific procreation of humankind and of livestock, fertile land producing plentiful crops, and overall prosperity. Punishment is reflected in the absence of all of these things, and in some instances, is as severe as death.
The name of this Sidra has attracted the attention of our commentators because it is open to a number of interpretations. The most straightforward, and literal meaning of the word EKEV is ‘the impression we make in the sand with our steps as we walk”. Therefore, this sentence means ‘as consequence of your obedience’.
In addressing the children of Israel before his death, Moshe has two tasks –to encourage the people to improve their ways and to prepare them for the future. Moshe was facing a generation which had lived in the wilderness under the protection of the cloud of glory – the Divine “umbrella” – and whose needs were met by Divine order. However, the situation was about to change radically – they were ready to enter the land and take on the natural state of a nation which must fend for itself.
The literal meaning of the Hebrew name of today's Sidra is FOOTSTEPS. Here it is used in a borrowed sense to mean result, consequence or reward. Therefore, the first sentence means: “It will be, as a reward, for listening to all these commandments… that, the Lord will fulfil the terms of the covenant to love you and to extend to you his kindness”'. This is the meaning of the formal term for the covenant used in Hebrew, which is: BRIT CHESED.