I recently bought the perfect pair of black pumps. The heels were just the right height to be classy and elegant while at the same time comfortable to walk in for hours.

The only problem with my shoes was that I liked wearing them so much that the heels soon became so worn out that they urgently needed the shoemaker’s deft craftsmanship.

You wouldn’t think that something so small and so low down would actually have such an impact. But think again.

The heels on our feet, too, have important functions, including:

  • helping move and flex the toes
  • helping the calf’s muscles
  • evenly distributing and stabilizing any force exerted on it
  • bearing the brunt of the body’s load during walking
  • and the heels are one of the most highly vascularized regions of the body surface

The foot’s heel is covered by connective tissue that is up to two centimeters thick to absorb the forces exerted on it, especially when it makes contact with the ground.

Eikev, means “if,” and begins with the verse “If you will listen to these commandments . . .”

The word eikev also alludes to ikveta di-meshicha, the generation of “the heels of Moshiach.” This is a reference to the last generation of exile, because, like the heel, it is spiritually the lowest generation, in which the darkness of exile is most intense. This generation is most removed from spirituality and holiness.

But it is in this generation that the footsteps—heels—of Moshiach can already be heard.

And we are that generation!

In past generations, we had the minds of our nation—a nation provided with a spiritual wisdom to understand the will of G‑d. At other times, we were a nation of hearts—our belief was infused with sensitivity and passion. In still other eras, we had penetrating eyes, seeing a perceptive, far-reaching vision.

But our generation represents the heel.

This simple Jew today may not be as spiritually accomplished as in the past, but his faith and commitment are even greater. For in the end, the heel of the foot is what supports the entire body, carrying it to its final destination.

The Talmud relates that when Rabbi Banaah caught a glimpse of Adam’s heels, he said, “They shone like two suns.”

Despite all that we’ve been through as a people, after suffering centuries of the harshest exiles, pogroms, and persecutions, we may represent Adam’s lowly heels.

But like Adam’s heels, look how this nation is shining.

As bright and luminous, as radiant and brilliant as the sun.