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Mitzvot must be performed with utmost enthusiasm to achieve their end.

To the Very End

To the Very End

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To the Very End
Mitzvot must be performed with utmost enthusiasm to achieve their end.

The name of the parasha, Ekev, has two meanings: "since" - as in the first verse, "Since you have fulfilled the commandments", G-d will take care of you; or "heel" - implying the end of something, like the heel of a person's foot. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that these two meanings are connected. Since observing the commandments is the reason that G-d keeps His promises to the Jews, we must actualize the cause, i.e. keep the mitzvot, in order to bring about the effect - G-d's providing for our needs.

Another way of understanding this cause/effect relationship is that when a Jew is involved in learning Torah or performing mitzvot, he or she is attaining the ultimate effect possible: to connect and unite with the Giver of the Torah. Yet only when we are really enthusiastic and excited about our divine service, can we be sure to achieve the desired result - complete connection to G-d. Since G-d is merciful, we should also be merciful….

Rebbe Yechiel Michel of Zlotchuv writes that the opening verse, "In the end ['Ekev'] you will listen..." means that in the end, you will listen and do the commandments. So since anyway we all will eventually do the commandments, let's get going now. Why be lazy and procrastinate? The reward is right there in front of us.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the word "ekev" is a commentary on the word "listen". How should one listen? Like this is the "ekev", the "end", the last mitzvah he will ever merit to perform. If that is how you do every mitzvah, you will certainly do it and fulfill its every nuance with pure and true love and fear for the sake of Heaven.

The fifth reading within the parasha opens with "And now, you Israel, what does G-d ask from you? Only to fear the Lord your G-d." (Deut. 10:12) The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 21:6) says that the Hebrew word for "now", "atta", is always connected to doing the concept of reconnecting with G-d.

The Chozeh of Lublin explains the connection between "now" and returning to G-d, teshuva: The foundation of doing teshuva is to always realize in our hearts that until this point we have not even begun to understand what it means to serve the Almighty. And now, from this moment onward, we want to begin to improve our behavior and to go in the proper way to fulfill the divine will. This, by the way, is the true meaning of the old saying "To live in the here and now".

Jealousy is one divine attribute whose blessings are out of our reach….

The sixth reading concludes with the verses that comprise the second paragraph of the Shema. These include "...to love G-d your L-rd and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Deut. 11:13) This differs from the first paragraph of the Shema, which says "and you shall love G-d, your L-rd, with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your possessions" (Deut. 5:5). In the second paragraph, dedicating one's heart and soul to G-d are mentioned, but not possessions. The Maggid of Mezritch relates its absence to the verse's continuation, "and I will give you dew in its time..." When a Jew loves G-d with his soul and heart, G-d grants physical rewards, such as dew and rain. However, "possessions" is dedicating to G-d a Jew's "muchness" his most precious things. When a Jew is dedicated to G-d in such a way, he displays how physicality for its own sake does not interest him. Thus, the fitting reward for dedicating one's physical possessions to the spiritual realms must be non-physical. Therefore, it was omitted from the verses guaranteeing physical rewards.

In the last verses, we are instructed to go in G-d's ways. Rashi explains that since G-d is merciful, we should also be merciful. Since G-d acts kindly we should also act kindly. We find instances in the Torah where G-d is jealous of His honor. Why doesn't Rashi also say that G-d is jealous, we should also be jealous. Rebbe Itzele from Valozhin answers with a quote from the Jerusalem Talmud: "G-d says, I control my jealousy and my jealousy does not control me!" G-d can control his jealousy, but people can't control theirs. No one should rationalize his jealousy. Jealousy is one divine attribute whose blessings are out of our reach.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter is a co-founder, executive director and featured teacher of Ascent-of-Safed.
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