The Torah portion Eikev begins with the verse, “Because (eikev) you listen to these laws and safeguard and keep them, G‑d your L-rd will keep His covenant and kindness that He swore to your fathers.”1

The Hebrew word eikev not only means “because,” but also “heel.” Thus Midrash Tanchuma2 explains that “these laws” refers to mitzvos that seemingly lack significance, so that people tend to “ignore them and cast them under their heels.”

Superficially, it would seem that the Midrash is inferring that these seemingly unimportant commandments are treated so lightly by some individuals that they do not observe them at all.

However, if this were indeed so, what is the connection between their non-performance and their being “cast under the heel” — if they are not performed at all then they are “cast out entirely,” not merely “cast under the heel”?

Truly, the Midrash is not referring to people who maintain that these “insignificant” mitzvos need not be performed, and surely it does not allude to those individuals who defile them by casting them under their heels.

Rather, the Midrash is making reference to those persons who recognize that all mitzvos are to be performed, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, only that these individuals prioritize the order of their performance, delaying the performance of mitzvos that they treat lightly — they cast their performance “under their heels.”

These persons maintain that they will first see to it that the “head,” i.e., the most important and stringent matters, will be performed properly. Afterward they will see to those mitzvos that are in close proximity to the head — mitzvos that are slightly less major. Only at the very last will they think about observing “heel mitzvos ,” and surely going above and beyond the letter of the law through the beautification and enhancement of these mitzvos will be put off to the very end.

Such individuals contend that one cannot possibly begin with the “heel”; order dictates that one must first do those things that are of greatest import and only then can one begin to think about deeper piety, enhanced performance, beautification of mitzvos , etc.

Although such thinking has a certain validity,3 it is absolutely vital that divine service begin with faith and acceptance of G‑d’s yoke, not with the dictates of logic. And the Jewish faith exhorts the individual to be as scrupulously observant of the seemingly minor mitzvos as the major ones.

For the quintessential aspect of all mitzvos is that they unite the individual with G‑d.4 This applies to all the mitzvos , without the slightest difference between “major” and “minor” mitzvos , “head mitzvos ” or “heel mitzvos.” It is therefore out of place to think about a sequential order to the performance of mitzvos.5

Thus we also observe that the condition which enabled the Jewish people to receive the Torah and become a nation was their prefacing “We shall do” to “We shall hear” — a totally illogical sequence.6

For a Jew’s spiritual beginning, similar to the beginning of the Jewish nation as a whole, must be with faith and acceptance of the divine yoke and not with intellect; even those matters that are readily understandable must be performed out of a sense of faith and G‑dly submission.

So too, children — people at the beginning of their lives — should know not only about the natural, i.e., logical, events that transpired with the Jewish people, but the miraculous, i.e., faith and belief, as well. This instills a firm foundation of faith in G‑d.

This manner of conduct is especially important in times of exile, when the Jewish people are “like a sheep surrounded by 70 wolves”7 : When we transcend our self-imposed order and are equally fervent in our performance of all commandments, then G‑d too foregoes the “order” of natural events, and the “Great Shepherd protects His sheep,”8 and abundantly provides them with children, health and sustenance.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XIX, pp. 89-93.