Published on August 19, 2019
This week’s Torah portion opens with an unusual expression: “Eikev (“if” or “because”) you listen to these laws…” Instead of the more common word “im” to denote “if,” the Torah uses the word “eikev,” which means “heel.”
According to the Torah commentator, Rashi, eikev alludes to the “simple mitzvot (commandments) usually trampled underfoot” – those mitzvot whose importance is sometimes denigrated.
Rashi’s explanation is based on a Midrash which states: “These are the simple commandments that people are not always careful to keep; they toss them under their heels.”
The Midrash is not referring to a person who considers these mitzvot to be trivial, G-d forbid, or who scorns them intentionally. Rather, the Midrash refers to a Jew who accepts that these mitzvot must be observed and who endeavors to keep them, yet keeps postponing their observance until they are “tossed under the heel.”
Such a person is likely to divide G-d’s commandments into categories, according to what he perceives as importance.
To him, the “important” mitzvot are the “head” and must take priority. “Let me first observe the ‘important’ mitzvot perfectly,” he says “then I’ll start with the others.” The simplest mitzvot are left for last. According to this way of thinking, the Jew does not demand of himself a level of conduct that is “within the letter of the law” until he considers himself to have mastered the “important” mitzvot.
What is the consequence of such an outlook? When this person is asked to love every single Jew – including those he does not know personally – he replies, “How can you ask that of me? It’s hard for me to love people I do know! How can you expect me to extend it to Jews I’ve never met?”
When pressed to observe mitzvot even more scrupulously than is required he replies, “No! There’s got to be a certain sequence in observing mitzvot. Demanding that I do more than the basics is like asking me to walk in the street barefoot while wearing a beautiful tie around my neck! You’ve got to start at the beginning and work your way up.”
While these arguments may sound logical at face value, they are nothing but the counsel of the evil inclination.
In truth, the foundation of a Jew’s G-dly service is his faith; it is predicated on the acceptance of the yoke of heaven, not on intellectual arguments or rationalisations.
The function of the mitzvot is to connect us to G-d. Every mitzva that a Jew observes strengthens his bond with G-d, regardless of whether it is an “important” commandment or a “simple” one, i.e., related to the “head” or to the “heel.”
If any mitzva allows us to draw nearer to G-d and unite with Him, why not do it immediately? Moshiach NOW!!!