[some quick morsels from the weekly portion…]
‘And if you will “heel” keep the commandments’. So begins the weekly Torah Portion this week. Rashi explains that the word heel was placed into this sentence to tell us we must keep ALL the Mitzvos, even those which many might think are “unimportant” and those which others tend to trample upon with disdaining heels – even those we should be keeping.
Chapter 8: Verse 3: “Not on bread alone does man live…rather on the utterances from G-d’s mouth does man live.” We need to remember this – science, medicine, food – none of that is what gives us the life force – it is G-d willing us to be alive which keeps our souls within our human bodies. With the advance of modern science and medicine, folks often think they control their health and destiny. Not so. Souls come into this world and are taken from it by the word of G-d.
Moshe explains to the Jews at this point some of the miracles which had taken place in the desert. Verse 4: their clothing did not need laundering and grew with them during those years. The Jews got so accustomed to their miraculous existence, they forgot it was a miracle. Many times in our own lives, just because something happens again and again, we forget it is a miracle. Sun comes up each day, that’s a miracle for you, but we are so used to it happening we forget how miraculous “mother nature” is.
The next thing we have in the Parsha is the mitzvah of Birchas Hamazon, grace after meals. The verse says, “you shall eat, you shall be sated, and you shall bless Hashem…” Grace after Meals is incumbent upon both men and women.
HAFTORAH – Yeshayahu [Isaiah 49]
49:14 – “And Zion said, G-d has abandoned me and my Lord has forgotten me.”
It’s been a long exile, hasn’t it? There are moments of desperation, those dark days of the Inquisition, those horror years of the Holocaust, the unimaginable endless tragic history. Did G-d forget us and give up on us?
49:15 – [G-d responds]”Does a woman forget her suckling, the son of her womb, even if such would forget but I won’t forget you.”16-“Behold on my palms I have engraved you, your walls are before Me always.”
Put your palm up now. You see it clearly, don’t you. That is how close G-d sees us at all times. He hasn’t forgotten us, not for one moment.
And because G-d hasn’t forgotten us, He will eventually hasten our redemption, cutting short the pain facing us from every angle.
The next few verses have multiple meanings. I am going to follow the path of describing the verse 17 “those who ruin you and those who destroy you, from you they emerge” as a comment that our worst enemies are from within our own nation, at times. The twisted souls who want to entice others into their vile sins. Those who are bitter and become anti-religious, like that dude in California who wanted to ban circumcision. We sometimes produce some bad apples. In our generation, we mass produce them. We have thousands of kids heading out to meaningless existences. Parents weep, schools are shamed, our community devastated and you wonder where will it all end.
Yet, with all that, the next verses describe how even these wicked ones could make it back in the final count. Verse 20: “It will be said in your ears, the lost children [will say] it is too narrow this place, move toward me and I’ll dwell.” Those kids we thought we lost to the street, those we thought we lost to twisted cultures and isms, those who had the most fight in them, they, too, will come streaming back, saying, “hey, make space for me at your Shabbos table, make place for me in your synagogues, let me back in.”
So cry for the Geulah, my friends, pray for that day when G-d reverts things back to ideal and brings home our lost children. Let the small Mitzvos, the ones that oft get trampled on by the masses who don’t value it, be dear to us. And let those Ekev, trampled upon Mitzvot, pave the road to return our children to the “Ikvos” the footsteps of their illustrious ancestors.