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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ekev

The Orders for Our Borders

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Parshat Ekev is very special to me. It is my Bar Mitzva sedra – sort of. According to my 13th (Hebrew) birthday, I should have been Bar-Mitzvahed on Parshat Pinchas. But my grandfather had passed away 11 months earlier, & so our Rav – Rav David Lieberman shlit"a, today the venerable chief rabbi of Antwerp, who taught me my sedra – suggested that the Bar Mitzva be postponed until after the aveilut, so the celebration could be a complete one. And so I identify with both parshiyot; I like to think that I have inherited both some of Pinchas’ activism & G-d directed energy, as well as an uncompromising love for Israel, as Ekev is known as "parshat Eretz Yisrael."

Being privileged to live here in Israel, so many of the blessings & promises in the sedra come to life every day. Hashem says, "There will be no infertility among you;" & while that may not (yet) be 100% fulfilled, Israel has the largest number of multiple-births per capita of any country, with free, unlimited fertility treatments. G-d says that "sickness will be removed from you;" & Israel is a leader in cutting-edge (no pun intended) medical advances, the latest being a nano-vaccine to prevent melanoma, & an advance-warning mechanism for detecting Parkinson’s.

We are told "kings will be delivered into our hands," & the kings of Jordan & Saudi Arabia can testify to that. We are assured that no nation, no matter how large or seemingly invincible, will be able to stand against us & defeat us. B"H that promise has sustained us throughout 7 wars. The sedra also tells of the great bounty that will be showered upon Israel, represented by the 7 Minim & also by the abundance of water that will flow here. Well, a walk through Shuk HaCarmel or Machane Yehuda reveals, in living color, just how prolific & plentiful our food supply is. And as for water? Our desalination technology gives us plenty of that; & now we can even produce water out of the air, thanks to Israeli start-up WaterGen.

But let us not forget for a second that all these miraculous gifts are subject to two crucial conditions: The first is that we must diligently serve Hashem & keep His decrees, ordinances & Mitzvot (11:1). The second requirement – no less crucial - is," Lo b’miskaynut tochal ba lechem (8:9);" we must not eat our bread "like a miskayn, like a nebech." In other words, we must see the miracle for what it is & not grouse or complain, for in order to BE blessed, you must acknowledge that you ARE blessed. We must eat our bread, so to speak, "with relish," with grateful appreciation & love of Hashem for all the good that has been bestowed upon us from Above.

And then, as the sedra concludes, everywhere our feet tread – from the Sinai to Lebanon, from the Jordan to the Euphrates to the Mediterranean – will be our borders.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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