Friday, August 11, 2017

Parshas Eikev Messages 5777

פּרשׁת עקב:
The Sages Say:
Your garment did not wear out from upon you and your foot did not swell this forty years.’ (Devarim 8:4)
The Clouds of Glory would rub their clothes and press them, like pressed vessels (garments).  And their young, also, as they would grow bigger, their clothing would grow with them, like the clothing (shell) of a snail, that it grows with it. (Rashi HaKadosh from Midrash Shir HaShirim Rabbah).
A “Lamdanishe” Insight:
And it will be if you will surely forget Hashem your G-d, and you will go after gods of others and you will serve them and prostrate yourself to them; I bear witness in you today that you will surely perish.’ (Devarim 8:19)
It really bothered me that this verse, which describes a tragic, tragic, possible occurrence, begins with the word והיה, which, we are told, connotes joy!  What is it doing here?  
I posed this question to the Bostoner Rebbe of Yerushalayim (Rebbe Mayer Alter Horowitz שׁליט"א).  He looked into the matter, and found in a Sefer (book) an answer given by the Chozeh of Lublin (Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz זצ"ל), photocopied it, and sent it to me. 
Says the Chozeh זצ"ל:  If a person commits a sin (like the avodah zarah described in the verse), and is still joyous and does not regret doing it; in this state, they will get the terrible punishment of surely perishing.  If they do not feel pain or regret over sinning, they will likely not come to do Teshuva.  
However, says the Chozeh, if the person does understand the magnitude of the sin and they do feel pain over it, they will be helped to do Teshuva.
Mussar Message:
And now O’ Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask from you but to fear Hashem your G-d, to go in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart ad with all your Soul?(Devarim 10:12)
The Midrash Rabbah says that ‘ועתּה’ -- ‘And now’, is a language of Teshuva.  What does that mean, and furthermore, what does it go to teach us?  
Explains the Chofetz Chaim (HaRav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan זצ"ל):  We are able to say that the intention is that the main strength of the Yetzer Hara is to try to delay people and argue that they can wait until tomorrow (or any later time) to be engrossed in Torah and Mitzvos, etc. And it continues day after day saying, “tomorrow”...
And now, with all this, he says, we can explain well with the Help of Hashem, the Midrash, as it appears to me, that the intention of the verse ‘And now O’ Israel… etc.’, it is to encourage a person that he should not go after the argument of his Yetzer Hara who tries to delay him the learning and the meditation in upholding the Torah to a later time.  And to this, Scripture comes and says ‘And now O’ Israel, what does Hashem ask from you,’ -- ‘And now’, specifically, meaning that at all times, he should think what the Blessed Hashem asks from him now. (Ahavas Chesed).
Chassidishe Vort:
And it will be because you will listen to these Ordinances…’ (Devarim 7:12)
This first verse in our Parsha begins ‘והיה עקב תּשׁמעוּן...’ (‘And it will be because you will listen...’).  Gemara Megillah (and other places in Chazal, as well) explains that the word והיה is always a language of joy.  
The above verse thus hints to us a message for life:   If we are B’Simcha -- joyous, we will be able to keep the Mitzvos and serve Hashem a lot better. (Tal U’Matar).
Chazak V’ematz:
And it will be because you will listen to these Ordinances…’ (Devarim 7:12)
The word for ‘because’ used in this verse, עקב, actually usually means ‘heel’.  Explains the Biala Rebbe שׁליט"א:  This refers to these final generations of Ikvesa d’Meshicha (the Footsteps of Mashiach), which are as lifeless as a calloused heel… We are so blind to spirituality that we can hardly tell if we are rising or falling…
Contrary to what we might think, the greatest of all rewards is reserved for just such a generation.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to Hashem despite our inability to sense His Presence.  We cling to the one lifeline that remains for us -- simple faith.  We continue to obey the Torah’s commandments even though we do not find them as thrilling as we would like, because we know it is the right thing to do.  Thereby, we prove our utmost loyalty to the Creator, fulfilling the hardest of all tasks which has been imposed upon this final generation before Mashiach’s arrival.  
He continues:  Rashi explains the above passage as a reference to the “minor mitzvos that people tread underfoot.” Certainly, he does not mean to differentiate between one mitzvah and another, since all mitzvos are equally important as our Sages tell us in Pirkei Avos (2:1): “Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as you would be with a major mitzvah.” Rather, -- quotes the Rebbe from the Toldos Adam and Toras Rebbe Yerachmiel -- he refers to times when people will tread mitzvos underfoot, viewing them as uninspiring, unfulfilling and thus unimportant, Chas V’Shalom.
Concludes the Biala Rebbe שׁליט"א:  In reward for fulfilling the Torah and mitzvos in these difficult times we are assured with all the blessings in this week’s parshah. (Mevaser Tov).
Maaseh B’Rabbi…
One day, when HaRav Chaim Kanievsky שׁליט"א was young, the Kanievsky’s washing machine stopped working.  The technician said that one of the machine’s parts had broken, and they needed to buy a new spare part from a store in Tel Aviv.
Rav Chaim’s sister was sent to Tel Aviv to buy the part.  She decided that while in the city, she would take care of another matter as well.
“I’m going to Tel Aviv to buy a part for the washing machine.” She told their father, the Steipler Gaon (HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky זצ"ל).  The Steipler added, “You should say, ‘im yirtzeh Hashem’!”
After an exhausting trip, Rav Chaim’s sister returned home.  While she had, Baruch Hashem, managed to complete her other errand, she had not managed to buy the spare part for the washing machine.
From that day on, Rav Chaim and his sister paid attention to a “small”, but very significant “spare part”, that directly affects one’s success, and, if absent, Chas V’Shalom, seems to remove success.  
From that day on, they understood to say ‘Im yirtzeh Hashem’ to every future action, as their father did. (A Gadol in Our Time: Stories about Rav Chaim Kanievsky).
A Gut Shabbos to all!

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