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Eikev Summaries

Eikev 5779-2019

Eikev 5779-2019
“Feast or Famine–What Judaism Says About Food”
(Revised and updated from Eikev 5760-2000)

The Torah in parashat Eikev boldly proclaims that human beings do not live by bread alone, but only by G-d’s decrees. As part of the process of hallowing all aspects of daily life, Judaism spiritualizes the act of eating. Food is important to Jewish life, not only because it is the staple of life, but because it is the staple of faith and a key element in developing sensitivity and proper moral and ethical behavior.

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Eikev 5778-2018

The Torah prohibits bringing an “abomination” into one’s home. This ancient message resounds profoundly in contemporary times.

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Eikev 5777-2017

“Stages of Religious Growth”

Moses presents the people an educational and spiritual “journey” of spiritual growth, from reverence of G-d, to loving Him, and, ultimately, uniting one’s soul with the sanctity of G-d’s Divine Presence.

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Eikev 5776-2016

“Caring for the Weak and the Vulnerable”

Many, if not most of the mitzvot of the Torah are revolutionary. Yet, perhaps none is more remarkable than the mitzvah to love the stranger, and caring for the weak and the vulnerable.

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Eikev 5775-2015

‘D’vay’kut’–Bonding with the Al-mighty”

D’vay’kut,” bonding with G-d, is often thought of as being an exceedingly mystical and esoteric concept, far from the reach of the common folk. Yet it is achievable to those who are willing to emulate G-d’s deeds, embrace the sages and scholars, and heed the message of the Divine in sacred music.

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Eikev 5774-2014

“No Reason to Glory!”

In parashat Eikev, the Torah warns the People of Israel not to glory in the success of their battles or their economic success. It is a most relevant message for contemporary times.

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Eikev 5773-2013

“Eating Bread Without Poverty”

How is it possible for G-d to assure the people who reside in the Land of Israel that they will lack nothing?

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Eikev 5772-2012

“Loving the Stranger”

If attitudes of antipathy and xenophobia are often directed at mere strangers, how much more so to strangers who wish to convert to Judaism, who are neither members of our families, nor of our people. Consequently, the Torah laws regarding the proper treatment of converts are rather extensive and quite detailed.

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Eikev 5771-2011

“Finding the Greatness of G-d in His Humility”

How do mere mortals dare pray to the All-Powerful G-d? Because there is incontrovertible evidence that our omnipotent G-d cares about the weak and the downtrodden. This knowledge serves as our license to pray, to ask that the coming days, weeks and years be times of blessing and beneficence.

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Eikev 5770-2010

“The Great, Mighty and Awesome G-d”

The “Anshei K’nesset Hagdolah,” Men of the Great Assembly were given that exalted honorific title, because they restored the crown of Divine attributes to its ancient completeness, by returning the original wording of Moses, in his praise of G-d.

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Eikev 5769-2009

“Feeding the Animals–Beasts and Humans”

Parashat Eikev includes a reference to eating food and being sated. From this brief reference, we are taught many exalted laws regarding our relationship to food, our relationship to animals, as well as Judaism’s deep understanding of human nature.

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Eikev 5768-2008

“Fear and Reverence of G-d ”

One of the most important aspects of belief is known as “Yir’aht Shamayim,” generally translated as “Fear of Heaven.” While it certainly means fear of retribution and punishment, it more definitively means reverence for G-d, awe of G-d through love. This more positive definition can have a meritorious impact on those who are walking away from Judaism who, unfortunately, too often perceive G-d as vengeful and wrathful.

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Eikev 5767-2007

“Swearing in G-d’s name”

It’s intriguing to see how the commentators dispute what seems to be a simple verse in parashat Eikev, Deuteronomy 10:20, that states “and by His name shall you swear.” Maimonides sees it as a positive mitzvah, Nachmanides sees it as a negative mitzvah prohibiting the use of G-d’s name. The commentators struggle to explain the differences between these two great authorities and the subtle implications of swearing or not swearing in G-d’s name.

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Eikev-Tu B’Av 5766-2006

“The Fifteenth of Av”

The deep mourning period of the Three Weeks between the fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av have concluded and the holiday of the 15th of Av is upon us. Although Tu B’Av is a relatively minor holiday today, the Talmud states that it once was one of the most festive days in the Jewish calendar. Many diverse reasons are given for its observance. Perhaps the main reason is to pull the Jewish people out of the sadness and depression of the long period of mourning that precedes Tu B’Av, and give the Jewish people reason to be optimistic and joyous when looking toward the future.

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Eikev 5765-2005

“Understanding Birkat Hamazon, the Grace After Meals”

Parashat Eikev contains the verse that serves as the source of the mitzvah mandating the reciting of Birkat Hamazon–the Grace after Meals. What is the purpose of the Grace after Meals? Furthermore, how can a lowly mortal hope to bless or acknowledge the source of his food?

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Eikev 5764-2004

“Battling the Contemporary Abominations”

Referring to idolatry, the Torah in Deuteronomy 7:26 states: “You shall not bring an abomination into your home. You shall surely loathe it and you shall surely abominate it, for it is something bad.” It is fallacious to think that there is no idolatry today. While the debate rages concerning the impact of television on children and home life, internet and violent video games have been added to the mix. There is no question whether these “idolatries” are impacting on our homes and schools. The only question is: How much? Society today is facing a battle for its survival and the survival of our children’s souls. We must aggressively do battle with these abundant evils that are rapidly chipping away at our morality and our humanity.

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Eikev 5763-2003

“Is there Truth to the Notion of Spiritual Accountability?”

In the second paragraph of the Shema, we read of the Jew’s relationship of responsibility and accountability toward G-d. Could it be that just as there is a physical accountability in the world, there is a spiritual accountability, as well? The Torah categorically affirms this notion.

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Eikev 5762-2002

“Worshiping G-d With All One’s Heart”

In this week’s parasha we read the verse advising worshipers to pray to G-d with “all their heart.” If that’s the case, we need spontaneous and emotional prayer, rather than traditional Jewish prayer’s fixed and rigid structure. Jewish prayer seems to be bound by so many rules that there is hardly an opportunity for worshipers to express their own personal feelings and needs. And yet, it is the structure and the rigor of the traditional prayer formula that makes certain that our prayers do not become self-centered and entirely focused on only our own needs and desires.

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Eikev 5761-2001

“The Intermarriage Conundrum”

In chapter 7 of Deuteronomy, we are told not to give our daughters to the sons of the Canaanites or take their daughters for our sons. There really is no entirely compelling argument against intermarriage. It can only be appreciated by those who wish to play a role in the sacred mission of the Jewish people, to teach the world the idea of the sanctity of human life, and to work toward the perfection of the world under the rule of the Al-mighty.

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Eikev 5760-2000

“Feast or Famine – What Judaism has to Say About Food”

We learn in parashat Eikev that human beings do not live by bread alone, but only by G-d’s decrees. As part of the process of hallowing daily life, Judaism spiritualizes the act of eating. Food is important to Jewish life, not only because it is the staple of life, but because it is the staple of faith and moral behavior.

Link to full version