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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Eikev – Mitzvot in this Parshah – Our actions have consequences

Posted by rabbiart on July 25, 2010

According to Sefer HaHinuch, there are eight mitzvot in this parshah.

#428: Not to derive benefit from any ornamentation of an idol
#429: Not to take any object from idolatry into our possession in order to derive benefit from it
#430: To bless HaShem for the food we receive
#431: To love the convert
#432: To continually have yirat shamayim (awe/fear/respect for HaShem) in our consciousness
#433: The commandment to pray
#434: To associate with Torah scholars and adhere to them
#435: When taking an oath, to swear by the name of HaShem

In his book B’Dibur Echod Asher Ben-Zion Buchman mentions the assertion that each sidrah is a conceptual unit, and attempts to find the central theme in each sidrah. In order to stay close to the text he follows the principle that אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו (A verse may not be interpreted in a way that its plain meaning – the pshat is removed. For this parshah he posits the central theme to be that future prosperity of Israel, both spiritual and physical, is dependent on the fulfillment of the mitzvot.

As proof that the sustenance of Aretz Yisrael is dependent on its creator, he points to the passage from our parshah that says the land of Israel is not like the land of Egypt. In Egypt, crops grew because of the over-flooding of the Nile river, whereas in Israel, the land is watered only by the rains from heaven. Of course in modern Israel, crops are irrigated from water carried by the national aqueduct, but that simply means that there must be sufficient rain to keep the Kinneret at acceptable levels.

For quite some time in the last two centuries, many have had difficulty in accepting the connection between human behavior, divine reward and punishment, and she who is known as Mother Nature. The rain will come in its season – we are told – only if we listen carefully to, and observe, to love and serve HaShem. It is from this parshah that rabbinic authority took the second paragraph of the Shema, the ‘reward and punishment’ paragraph.

In our time, we can see that science has caught up to theology. Living our lives as if there are no consequences to poisoning the earth and the atmosphere does in fact have consequences. Whether we think of ourselves as religious mitzvah observing Jews, or part of the “I’m spiritual but not religious” crowd, avowedly secular or determinedly atheistic, it is now unfortunately so easy to see that our behavior can shut off the rain, or poison the waters, or foul the air.

In short, actions have consequences. Chase after idolatry, fail to appreciate our blessings, denigrate the “other”, and yes, inevitably, the water will catch fire, or be polluted with oil, the earth will be either too dry or too wet, and the air will become unbreath-able. When the rain falls – or doesn’t fall, when the air is too hot – or too cold, when the ground is too dry for crops and the rivers too shallow for fish, then we can see we are all united in suffering the consequences, whether we are religious, or spiritual, or secular, or woshippers at the altar of atheism. Actions have consequences.


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