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Ekev is an interesting Hebrew word which is the title of this week's Parashah (Torah reading portion) it means both "when" and "heel." Its first use is the qualifying expression to receiving all that G-d has in store for us. The portion for this week is found in Deuteronomy 7:12 through 11:25 and it contains some profound truth. "When you listen to these judgements and keep and do them, that the L-rd your G-d will keep His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers." It seems that we cannot escape the reality that our walking in His blessing is dependent upon our walking in His way. And that leads us to ponder the second use of the word ekev, heel. It refers to where we place our feet and about this, the Master of the world is adamant. We must follow His path and no other. Chapter eight opens with these instructions, ""All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the L-rd swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the L-rd your G-d has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. The next couple of verses give a humorous insight. It shows us how G-d allowed Israel to have no new clothes for forty years as discipline! And we often feel deprived if we do not have the very latest fashion!
There is so much to learn from this portion; I love it!! In 8:7-8, the L-rd tells of what are called the Seven Species unique to the Land. They are, wheat, barley, vines (grapes) and figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. Wait a minute; honey is not a plant! But oh it is!!! You see, the honey referred to here is the nectar that is squeezed from dates, which grow better in Israel than anywhere on the earth!
Verse 10 of this chapter is the basis of the Jewish practice of saying Grace after meals. It cautions us "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the L-rd your G-d for the good land which He has given you. The very next verse, once again takes us back to the issue of obedience. You just cannot escape it, can you?
Then, in 11:18-21, you may read part of what is written on the scroll in every Mezuzah, placed on the doorpost of Jewish homes everywhere. This scripture is also in the little boxes that Jewish men bind to their arms and heads as they pray. But, in closing this Parasha, the L-rd returns to His oft-repeated theme of the connection between obedience and blessing.
"For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the L-rd your G-d, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the L-rd will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. "No man will be able to stand before you; the L-rd your G-d will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you. And so, He closes with this reference to "ekev", but this time, meaning "heel;" It is clear that when we walk in His way, doing His will, He will direct our steps into place of blessing and security. That is where I want my heel to be; how about you?