Word for the Herd - Teachings from your favorite teacher

June 20, 2014

Check out WORDFORTHEHERD.com, a blog for students and families about current events, the Torah Portion of the week and people making mitzvah's in our community.


Becky enjoys combining her loves of Judaism, music, and performance as a Bnai Mitzvah Tutor. Since the Monday after her Bat Mitzvah (parashat Vayelekh), she has worked as a tutor with various synagogues including Congregation Habonim and Central Synagogue in Manhattan. She has worked as a Hebrew/Bnei Mitzvah, Math tutor and academic coach with Door To Door Tutoring since the summer of 2008.











This week's Parsha is Eikev. In it Moshe is continuing his reminders to the C-O-I to keep the mitzvot and lists the blessings they will inherit from Cnaan as long as they stick with G-d (The word for stick has the same root as glue --- Dalet, Vet, Kof). 
  In Eikev we find the second paragraph of the Ve'ahavta prayer, something most Conservative and Orthodox shuls recite silently during prayer or Tefilah. It outlines the specific agricultural blessings and curses that go along with following commandments. 
   Every Day when I was a kid both at Synagogue and at Minyan in Jewish Day School  my friends and I would compete for who could get through that silent paragraph the fastest. I ended up memorizing it by 5th grade. Yah, no wonder I'm a Hebrew Teacher. But I have to admit, as a child the meaning of the passage was largely lost on me until my adulthood. 




If the ultimate set of punishments and rewards relate to rain, livestock and produce how are everyday modern people supposed to relate to keeping the mitzvot? I'm not a farmer. And yes, if there is a draught then eventually food will cost more so I guess it all effects me, but won't I blame those issues on the weather and mother-nature and not on my behavior?
  It's not so simple to say "OH! I can skim over this paragraph because it has nothing to do with me." This is what G-d promised in Torah-Times. These were the things that would make the C-O-I feel blessed; plentiful food and a healthy land to live in. Now adays, times are more complicated, more technological, and I'm nearly certain HaShem would have added in WiFi and Charging Stations and a world without the risk of chemical warfare had he been catering for our generation. But if we understand reason why HaShem would have made our ability to reside in the world comfortably as a blessing and in total distress as a punishment then we can understand the passage's importance. 
    No matter what we should continue to love HaShem with all of our hearts, souls and mights, and od what we can to pass the love forward from generation to generation. 




WHY is the PARSHA named Eikev though? This we haven't yet discovered. 

Eikev, like Yaakov (Or Jacob), means HEEL!? It is a weird word to name a parsha, and most Rabbi's translate the word Eikev to mean "Because," loosely related to the actual word. 

So why did Moshe & HaShem use the word Eikev here. And not one of the many other words in Hebrew that mean "because."

Rabbi Jacob Ben Asher was a great sage of the 1300s. He also was known as Baal HaTurim. I like his explanation. He brings up the idea of Jewish Math: GEMATRIA. See that chart up above? Each letter in Hebrew stands for a number. Alef = 1. Yud = 10. Yud + Alef = 11.   "The word eikev is used because it has a numerical value of 172 -- the number of words in the Ten Commandments. "

The word Eikev, is symbolically linked to all of the commandments that we are supposed to keep throughout this and the other portions of the Torah. G-d wants to remind us to keep mitzvot not only through traditional ways of rewards and curses but with symbolic and subconscious reminders. He starts out the parsha to connect our eyes, minds, and souls to the idea of the 10 commandments. Pretty cool technique right? 

You might think the Torah just spews rule after rule at us... but really, there are some interesting and mystical that can keep us connected and learning for a long time.


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