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Eikev - In One Ear and NOT out the Other

08/10/12 21:05:28


Announcements, phone calls, e-mails, fliers, facebook, twitter are only some of the methods we use to communicate information. Despite how many times announcements are made, invariably there are some who didn't get the information. Quite often, as an event is taking place, someone will come later and say 'I didn't hear about it'. There is a great difference between listening and hearing; almost everyone hears things, but they aren't necessarily listening. Yet I believe there is a deeper issue than just hearing and listening..... Subconsciously ignoring.

The debate rages as to how much advertising is needed for people to get the message. There are instances when repeating information in different forms is beneficial. At other times people become sick and tired of hearing the same information over and over again - even when it's packaged differently. Granted, the level of attention something receives is directly correlated to how interested the party may be. Announcements that are not meant for my age group or gender will automatically not register in the "listening section" of my brain. Of course there are things that apply to everyone across the board, and that is Torah and all the things which link to Torah.

In the beginning of this week's Parsha Eikev, the Torah states: "V'Haya Eikev Tishmeun eis HaMishpatim HaEileh Ushmartem Vaasisem Osam"....."And it will be that you will hearken to these laws and you will safeguard and perform them". The very last passuk of last week's parsha states: "...and you will safeguard the Mitzva, the statutes, and the laws which I have commanded you to do this day. The Kli Yakar observes that the word "Chukim" in Vaeschanan is missing in the next verse in Eikev. The Kli Yakar explains the absence of the word "Chukim" is really found in the word 'Eikev' - the heel -which can be understood to mean that one should not trample and step on the Chukim, those statutes for which we do not know the reasons. This is in contrast to the Mishpatim, the laws that mankind would enact on their own as it makes sense for a society. The Chukim, on the other hand, do not have rational reasons to the human mind.

The Kli Yakar explains the language and usage of the term Eikev (which means heel) comes to include all the statutes. The statutes are hinted in the word Eikev because the Satan and the nations of the world mock the Jewish People for doing these mitzvos that they can't relate to. It is for this very reason that Jews have a tendency to trample and step on these Chukim, mitzvos which they feel uncomfortable doing because they don't know the reasons to do them. This is what the Rabbis referred to when they said "do not tread upon the Mitzvos Kalos" - seemingly the easy ones but those that people mock.

The Rabbis often mention the idea "to be careful and treat the Kal (easy)mitzvos identical to those which are more difficult or not possible for us to understand. Again, this directly applies to Eikev, do not trample upon the easy ones, those mitzvos which don't make sense in the same way that we don't trample on the more difficult/harsher ones, the Mishpatim that make sense.. All of the mitzvos share in their significance and importance, and this is particularly important regarding the Mitzvos that we are challenged with by not knowing the reasons behind the Chukim.

There is no area of the Torah that should be treated lightly because it may not make sense to you. When I read the ingredient panel of a medication, I do not understand or know what it all means, but I follow the instructions nevertheless. So too when it comes to following directions in the Shulchan Aruch one should just do the mitzva instead of mocking and disregarding it completely. There is a guarantee that if a person does these mitzvos he will come to rejoice, as reflected in the word V'Haya - and it will be.

In a Jewish community, whether it's the local day school or Shul, opportunities are granted to one and to all. Dozens of lectures, speakers, and learning opportunities are there for everyone. Daily, weekly and monthly announcements go out seeking people to listen and to learn. Unfortunately, however, much of this planning falls on deaf ears. I am not referring to ears which are physically unable to hear, but rather to an ailment of disregarding and ignoring the potential growth made available yet ignored. People should not be foolish in thinking that if I just do the Mishpatim, then I will be ok. Everyone needs to study Torah on every level. It is through the study of Torah that we will increase the days and years of our lives. This requires listening to and noting when the class is going to take place and then showing up and learning.

Baruch Hashem we have seen many families flourishing in our Shul. But let me take license to issue a strong warning: In order to maintain the level of commitment and observance of the mitzvos, one must continue to study Torah - either privately with a chavrusa or by attending Shiurim. Torah learning is the oil which keeps all the parts greased up and running smoothly. If the performance of mitzvos is not complemented by a constant stream of Torah, then the river bed will dry up. Opportunities for Torah study come and go; It is incumbent upon all of us to take advantage every available situation to learn.

When a person hears the announcement of a certain lecture or speaker, they should figure out a way to attend and not just shrug it off as if it's not important or it's not for me. Torah is the elixir of life Plain and simple. Without it we can't exist. Next time we hear an announcement of Torah learning let us commit to take it upon ourselves the mitzva of Limmud HaTorah.

Ah Gut Shabbos Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky
Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780