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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ekev

Heels and Ordeals

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"And it shall be – Ekev – if you will listen to all these ordinances….." So begins our Parsha this week. Rashi focuses on the unusual word, "Ekev" – which can also mean "heel" - & comments that one should be very scrupulous in observing the "light" Mitzvot that people tend to trample upon with their heel.

I have another thought: The word "Ekev" clearly reminds us of Yakov, so named because he held on to the heel of Esav as they emerged from the womb. I suggest that Hashem is telling us that when it comes to doing Mitzvot, when it comes to showing devotion to Hashem, there is no better role model than Yakov.

Consider all that Yakov went through in his life: He had to deal with a malevolent twin brother, even running away to escape being killed by him. He lived with father-in-law Lavan, a duplicitous conniver who switched brides and tried to swindle him out of his rightful wages. He suffered the early loss of his beloved Rachel; had to deal with the kidnap and rape of daughter Dina, and then vicious in-fighting among his children led to the disappearance of his favorite son, Yosef, for 22 years. At the end of his life, he had to leave Israel for Egypt - which he considered a bitter exile - and only was brought back to Israel for burial.

So Hashem is saying to us, via this little word "Ekev:" If it's tough being Jewish, if you think you have trouble staying on the Derech Hashem, the path of G-d, just think of all the trials and tribulations of Yakov, and yet he remained steadfast in his faith. The going may indeed be rough at times, but if you maintain your spiritual balance, "He'll" surely reward you for it!
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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