Eikev: Always Here
What is true love? What is our greatest fear? Why do we often feel like Hashem has abandoned us? How can we merit Divine assistance to become 'women of valor'?
In Parshat Eikev, we read about the blessings that were conditional on the Jewish people’s conduct. If they observed the commandments given in the previous parshiyot, the Torah tells us, they would merit great brachah - wealth, health, and victory against their foes.
However, if they forgot about Hashem and the miracles He performed for them in the desert, He would no longer guard them and they would be lost among the nations of the world. Moshe Rabbeinu continues to remind them of the kindnesses Hashem performed for them.
Although Eikev is the parshah that contains warnings of punishment against am Yisrael, it is also the parshah that is full of love. The word “ahavah” appears many times in this sidrah. Two examples are “V’ata Yisrael, mah Hashem… sho’eil mei’imach ki im… l’ahavah oto” and “V’ahavta et Hashem Elokecha v’shamarta mishmarto.”
Hashem’s love for us overflows! If we take a look at the opening verse of Eikev, we find a discrepancy in the wording. “V’hayah eikev tishme’un et hamishpatim ha’eileh u’shmartem v’asitem otam, v’shamar Hashem… v’aheivcha u’veirachecha. This will be the reward when you heed these laws and you observe and perform them: Hashem will love you, bless you, and multiply you” (Devarim 7:13-14). When Moshe transmitted the condition, he delivered it in the plural form, v’asitem, but when he conveyed the reward, he used the singular form, v’aheivcha. How do we understand this change?
The answer offers us insight into Hashem’s deep love for each of us.
True love, explain our Sages, is personal. It’s a one-on-one relationship. If we follow Hashem’s commands, we won’t be rewarded as a group; every single Jew will merit to feel Hashem’s affection as an individual. The entire Parshat Eikev is full of examples that prove this phenomenon. “Simlatcha lo valtah, your garment did not wear out upon you, and your feet did not swell these forty years” (Devarim 8:4). Even their clothing was a sign that Hashem was with them.
How many of your children’s shirts last for more than a season? What a miracle! In a comment that stirs emotion, Rashi expounds on Hashem’s kindness. The ananei hakavod, he notes, used to press their clothes like steam irons, and their garments grew with them, remaining clean and fresh.
Look at the way Hashem took care of every single Jew! He ironed each person’s shirt so that no one would walk around with a creased garment. Hashem is concerned about us. Like a dedicated parent, He devotes Himself to the needs of His children, expressing His love in the most minute details.
Chodesh Elul is not that far away. Elul, which is an acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” is the month that teaches us to do teshuvah out of love. The knowledge that Hashem loves every single one of us individually is a great comfort.
The greatest fear a person has is that he will be forsaken. So strong is our desire to feel recognized that we will do anything in our power to make it happen. For some, it happens through delivering shiurim. For others, the answer lies in provocative clothing. This is a strong theme of human existence. Even in my advanced age, I still dream sometimes that my mother left me behind on the bus. We often dream about losing a loved one or being left behind to fend for ourselves, G-d forbid.
And that’s the fear many of us have in regard to Hashem. “Hashem forgot to create my zivug.” “When Hashem handed out parnassah, He skipped me.” “Why did He forget about me when he gave out beauty?”
In the haftarah of Eikev, we hear these very cries from Yerushalayim. “Vatomer Tzion, ‘Azavani Hashem, v’Hashem sh’cheichani, Hashem has forsaken me and He forgot about me’” (Yeshayahu 49:14). But Hashem tells us in the same haftarah that this is impossible: “V’anochi lo eshkacheich!” Dear sisters, Hashem has promised that He will never forget you.
If Hashem’s love is so great and He expresses it to each of us individually, how is it that we don’t always feel it? We find the answer in this week’s parshah, which discusses what happens to a person who believes in his own strength - “Kochi v’otzem yadi asah li et hachayil hazeh.” Working our way toward independence from Hashem can lead to dismal consequences. When you feel that you are in control, you are essentially putting yourself in the most vulnerable position.
What happens to a woman who thinks she can do it all on her own? Instead of relying on Hashem, she loses the ability to be comforted. You know those toddlers who can do everything on their own, right? What happens when they can’t tie their shoes? It’s not easy to ask for help. The only source of comfort is Hashem; He is the One you want to rely on to feel safe and secure, the feeling you most desire. He will give you the strength to be an eishes chayil.
“V’zacharta et Hashem Elokecha ki hu hanotein lecha koach laasot chayil” (Devarim 8:18). Turn to Him for the koach you need to forge through the challenge.
When I pack up for our annual family vacation, I always have a moment when I think I’m losing it. An overwhelming feeling of weakness washes over me. “How will I do it all? What should I take and what should I leave behind? Where should I begin?” And suddenly I see that the little ones have grown up and they’re stuffing their own belongings into the suitcases.
Hashem has not forsaken me. He hasn’t left me alone with these empty suitcases. And he doesn’t leave us alone when we wait for a shidduch, a child, a yeshuah. He is right there, showering each of us with His love, remembering us at every moment.
Rabbanit Mizrachi is one of Israel’s most popular speakers, with tens of thousands of students. Her lectures are attended by hundreds of women.
Facilitated by Shiffy Friedman
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