Dear Readers,

I met an elderly, loving couple who had been married for many, many years. I wondered: What kept their relationship fresh? What sustained their warmth and tenderness over time?

Did they gift each other special, luxurious items on birthdays, anniversaries or commemorative events? Did they have grand gestures of self-sacrifice that kept them so close?

Not at all. It was the constant, ordinary gestures that permeated every aspect of their relationship. It was the small acts of kindness throughout their day. Their phone calls to say, “I’m thinking of you.” Offers to bring each other a hot cup of coffee or a fuzzy pair of slippers, or to wash the dishes left in the sink. The notes on the fridge to remind the other of something that was important for them.

This week’s Torah portion is called Eikev, and it begins with the verse: “It will be because [eikev] you will heed these ordinances and keep them, that G‑d will keep for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you . . . ”(Deuteronomy 7:12–13)

In this verse, G‑d is teaching us how we can keep our relationship with Him alive and thriving throughout our long and difficult exile. Several commentaries explain the interesting usage of the word eikev, which literally means “because” but also means a “heel.”

Rashi comments:Eikev, the Hebrew word for “because,” literally means “heel.” If you will heed the minor commandments which one [usually] tramples with his heels [i.e., which a person treats as being of minor importance].”

The Rebbe elaborates: “Our commitment to Torah should permeate us entirely, even our heel—the lowest and the least sensitive part of the person. In other words, our relationship with G‑d should not be confined to the holy days of the year or to certain “holy” hours we devote to prayer and study, but should also embrace our everyday activities.”

Relationships thrive through gestures of love and affection repeated in regular interactions. These small things—like spending time together, complimenting each other or performing thoughtful acts—ensure that each individual understands how much he or she is cared for.

So how do you think a successful relationship with G‑d would look? What would a person do throughout their day if he or she is devoted to making G‑d happy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW