In the previous years, Parsha Eikev has been equated in terms of one’s being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in the mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man. The little mitzvot, the small details are the ones epitomized by V’Ahavtah L’rei’echa Komocha — caring for your fellow Jew as for yourself.
And so, we find Parsha Eikev placed on the heels of the end of Parsha Vaetchanan’s teachings regarding tefillin and mezuzah.
We learn “For the land to which you come, to possess — is not like the land of Egypt from where you came…” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 10.)
A parable is given to explain the posuk, and indeed the concept of Eikev mitzvot;
A son once asked his Father for counsel on seating arrangements for banquet celebrating the Bris Milah of his new-born son.
The son felt embarrassed for the poor people who were always seated at the end of the table and he wished to honor them by seating them at the head of the table while placing the wealthy at the far end.
The father praised the nobility of his son’s intentions but told him that were he to carry out his plan, none of his guests would be very happy.
The father related to his son how the wealthy have plentiful supplies of food in their homes and are coming to the banquet not seeking nourishment, but seeking honor. It is best to seat them at the head of the table so that they receive the honor that they seek. The poor who seek nourishment should sit at the foot of the table where they can eat undisturbed and away from the limelight. <1>
This same differentiation can be made between Israel — Am Yehudi and the other nations.
The nations, the heathens of the world are like the poor at the banquet, they seek only to satify their bodily needs and they can accomplish this in any part of the world, but not in our Eretz Yisrael HaKadosh.
But the Jewish nation does not place it’s emphasis on materialistic satisfaction and has always sought the higher, more spiritual aspects of life.
“They are to be recognized and honored by the rest of the world. Therefore, they have been placed in Eretz Yisrael where the eyes of the world are fixed upon them. (Tehillim 104) In this way, their good deeds can be observed by all. At the same time, however they must be careful not to desecrate Hashem’s laws. If they unfortunately do so, they will be degrading the Torah in full view of all other nations, thereby causing the unspeakable tragedy of ‘Chillul Hashem.'” <2>
Reflecting back two years, and indeed for the previous year and a half leading up to the Expulsion, one can only view what occurred as a Chillul Hashem of the highest magnitude. There were at least a dozen junctures where this Gezeira Rah could have been reversed politically. But politicians will be politicians.
Remembering back, the reflections mirror the feelings of those days; that the B’nai Yisrael, that the Jewish people, that the religious community were for the most part complacent on Yom Pakuda, the day when the expulsion was put into force. Many, most went about their lives unfazed, as they shopped, went to work and ran here and there as though nothing had happened even as the loudspeakers blared on every street as to what was about to happen on Yom Rishon; Yom Pakuda not prevented, was a huge Chillul Hashem. Where was the march on Gush Katif by tens, lo hundreds of thousands of Jews? Where was bringing the country to a halt thereby forcing the evil ones from pwoer while standing, hundreds of thousands to block the police and the IDF from the evil mission? And so now, a heretofore totally self-sufficient segment of the Jewish Nation stands destitute thanks to the hand of the evil regime.
By this, do we merit Eretz Yisrael and most favored nation status from Hashem?
But, it seems that each year after Tisha B’av brings it’s new opportunities. Last year, there were Rabbanim pleading for unity, for bringing peace between various segments of the religious world in light of the previous year’s expulsion and mida keneged mida, last summers’ Lebanon conflict.
This year, we have been given a new opportunity by way of Moshe Feiglin, Manhigut Yehudit and the distinct, real possibility of his winning the Likud primary, This potential, if fulfilled, in turn has the potential to radically change for the better the way in which Israel is governed and the way of daily discourse among the Jews; between those governing and those being governed and at all levels of society as well as in the discourse between the Jews and their avowed adversaries. For that matter, if a Manhigut Yehudit victory comes to fruition, it undoubtedly will mark a distinct improvement in Israel’s credibility as perceived by her enemies, the reigning superpower and the entire non-Jewish world.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the 3 captive Chayalim and the other MIAs be liberated and returned to us and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
<1> & <2> L’lmod U’lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Eikev, page 167.
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.