Parshat Eikev 5778: Eikev Mitzvot and the Importance of Expressing Appreciation to One’s Hosts

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Eikev is being sponsored by Dov and Lauren Greenberg of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated in honor of their son Moshe Yitzchak’s birthday. To the Greenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses and good wishes.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Eikev 5778: Eikev Mitzvot and the Importance of Expressing Appreciation to One’s Hosts

by Moshe Burt

Moshe continues his mussar speech to B’nei Yisrael in Parshat Eikev.

Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 386-387) renders translation of the opening posuk of Parsha Eikev:

“And it shall come to pass, if you listen to these mishpatim (social ordinances) and you guard them and do them, that Hashem Ke’ilokecha will guard the covenant for you and the kindness which He swore to your forefathers.” (Sefer Devarim Perek 7, posuk 12)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders this translation of the beginning of our opening posuk:

“This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances …” (Sefer Devarim Perek 7, posuk 12)

The Stone Chumash (Parshat Eikev pages 980-981) cites Rashi in explaining Eikev:

“you will hearken [listen]“ = eikev — the reward: in midrashic terms also means the “heel”, alludes to the sort of commandments that people may regard as relatively unimportant, so they tend figuratively to “tread on them with their heels.” Thus, the Torah assures Israel that if they are careful to observe even these neglected commandments, they can be certain that Hashem will reward them with His Covenant and Kindness.

Stated another way, this means being attentive to the little Mitzvot; the details, the Mitzvot that one tends to overlook, to ignore, to tread one’s heels on in life’s mad dash, but without which the Jewish people would lack the merit which sets us apart from common man. The little mitzvot are the small details, the ones epitomized by V’Ahavtah L’re’echa Komocha — caring for, and attentiveness to your fellow Jew as for yourself.

Shem Mishmuel seems to express Eikev as three means of observance: listening, guarding and doing the mishpatim (the laws). In turn, he equates listening with intellect, guarding with life’s emotions — with one’s heart, and doing with the bodily and physical performance of the Mitzvot. (ibid, Sefer Shem Mishmuel, page 386)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin cites in “Growth Through Torah” (pages 405-406) on our Parsha — Devarim, Perek 8, posuk 17:

“[Lest] you will say in your heart, My power and the strength of My hand did for me all of this success.”

R’ Pliskin says on the above posuk:

Don’t allow a feeling of righteousness to cause you to be conceited…. the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik: …this verse also applies to someone who says, “It was due to my personal spiritual merits that we were victorious.” We should always realize that what the Almighty does for us is due to His kindness and compassion and we should not feel that it is our own righteousness and merits that brought success.

Later in the Parsha, there are these posukim:

“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.)

“The land which you are crossing to occupy…. is therefore a land constantly under Hashem Keilokecha’s [Our Lord’s] scrutiny; the eyes of Hashem Keilokecha [your Lord] are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posukim 11 & 12)

This author wonders why Rabbi Shmuel Goldin seems to omit any reference to or discussion of our Parsha Eikev’s opening posuk (see above) in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, pages 83-130).

But, perhaps, even without referring specifically to our Parsha’s opening posuk, R’ Goldin may have it firmly in mind as he summarizes the Parsha through this series of posukim (excerpts of the Torah text and commentary as rendered to English in sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” pages 83-85):

Moshe continues his second… address by warning the nation… “Be careful… lest you forget Hashem Keilokecha… lest you eat and be satisfied, and build good homes and settle down, …. and all that you have will increase — and your hearts will become haughty and you will forget Hashem Keilokecha, Who took you out of the land of Mitzrayim, from the house of slavery, … and you will say in your heart: ‘my strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth.'” (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, Perek 8, posukim 11-17) …Moshe instructs the nation to be ever mindful of their reliance on Hashem. Their powerful enemies will fall before them at Hashem’s hands, if the nation remains loyal.

Moshe explains to the B’nei Yisrael that they are acquiring the Land, not because of our own worthiness, but because the inhabitants of the Land merit destruction due to their own evil actions.

“And you should know, He declares, that not because of your righteousness does Hashem give you this good Land to acquire, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, Perek 9, posuk 6)

R’ Goldin then goes on to render these posukim to English and to cite the Talmud Bavli 21a (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, page 85):

“For Hashem Keilokecha is bringing you to a good Land: …a land where you will eat bread without scarceness; you will lack nothing within it; a Land whose stones are iron and from whose mountains you will mine copper. And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless Hashem Keilokecha upon the good Land that He has given you.” (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, Perek 8, posukim 7-10)

Tamudic authorities identify one sentence from this passage [immediately above] as the source of a fundamental Torah Commandment: “From where do we learn a Torah obligation to bless Hashem? As it is said: ‘And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless Hashem Keilokecha upon the good Land that He has given you.'” (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, citing Talmud Bavli 21a)

While R’ Goldin goes on to discuss Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), this author seeks to tie-in two Mitzvot to the theme of Eikev Mitzvot, the above-cited posukim and R’ Goldin’s commentary. Or perhaps these two more aptly represent Derech Eretz (midot, manners). How ever they are best classified, they seem often omitted and thus seem a model of that perhaps viewed as relatively unimportant, thus neglected.

Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz says a brief Halacha vort nightly, following Maariv. On two occasions, he spoke of the importance of giving kavod and expressing appreciation when one is hosted for meals and/or for sleep accommodations.

On one occasion, Rav Malinowitz spoke about the importance for guests to insert into their Birkat Hamazon a special Blessing for their hosts which this author cites with the Artscroll Siddur’s translation of the Bracha and commentary:

“May it be Hashem’s will that this host not be shamed nor humiliated in This World or in the World to Come. May he be successful in all his dealings. May his dealings be successful and conveniently close at hand. May no evil impediment reign over his handiwork, and may no semblance of sin or iniquitous thought attach itself to him from this time and forever.” (Artscroll Siddur, Ashkenaz, page 193 citing the text found in Shulchan Aruch)

The Talmud (Brachot 46a) gives a rather lengthy text of the blessing that a guest inserts… for the host. It is quoted with minor variations in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 201) and many authorities are at a loss to explain why the prescribed text has fallen into disuse in favor of the briefer version commonly used.

On the other occasion, R’ Malinowitz expressed that while guests readily compliment their hosts on the food served or for the accommodations, often “thank you” seems to be omitted, seemingly as if a small, minor detail.

While the hosts are performing the great Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (the Mitzvah of having guests in their homes for either meals and/or for lodging), hard-wired into Jews’ DNA since Avraham Avinu, these two expressions — the special Bracha insert[ed] into Birkat Hamazon and compliments accompanied by “thank you” — convey sincere appreciation for all of the hosts’ efforts.

Perhaps, these sincere expressions of appreciation to hosts equate, to some extent, in the same way as the Brachot of HaGefen, HaMotzi and Birkat Hamazon express blessing and appreciation to Hashem before and after eating a meal.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of four years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May 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 to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos Mevarchin!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.