A Thought for the Week
Space has its markers. When we visit
places that we had visited as a child the energy of that place is released
and brings back all the memories that seemed to be stored up there waiting
for you to return and enjoy them. Time also has its markers. Birthdays,
anniversaries, yahrtzeits - all of these markers take us back on a journey
as we remember a particular day in our lives, a certain day in history. This
Shabbos is a special marker
for me personally. Parshas Eikev was the Shabbos of my Aufruf. Many years
later the week of Eikev was my first Shabbos in Australia. As time went on
Parshas Eikev was also the very first time I spoke from the pulpit of
Congregation Bais Torah which led to my succeeding Rabbi Berel Wein and
continuing his legacy.
I have often mentioned the insight of the Sfas Emes. When Moshe Rabeinu approached the burning bush he heard G-d speak to him. "Take off your shoes!" G-d commanded. "You are standing on Holy ground." Why did G-d command Moshe to take off his shoes and not to cover his head or prepare his heart? The Sfas Emes explains that there is a great difference between walking with shoes or without them. With shoes one can walk over stones, glass, water, even fire and not feel a thing. Without shoes, even in the comfort of ones own home one can feel everything. Step on the slightest protrusion, even a little Lego and the pain climbs right up the spine.
told Moshe that if you want to hear the word of G-d, if you're going to be a
leader of the people you must take off your shoes. You must remove the
insulation that you wear to protect yourself from the environment. It will
hurt but you must be able to feel every bump, every nick and cranny; you
must be able to feel the pain.
This Parsha begins with Eikev and goes on
to describe the most wonderful blessings possible on this Earth. Rashi
teaches that "Eikev" which actually means heel, talks of the
mitzvos that are easy to ignore; mitzvos that we step on with our heel. The
major blessings of life, it seems, depend on the small insignificant mitzvos
of the Torah.
Before Moshe approached he holy ground he took off his shoes. Before the Kohein walks into the Holy of Holies he takes off his shoes. On Yom Kipur and Tisha B'Av we take off our shoes. Before we walk into marriage, parenting or a life of mitzvos we too must take off our shoes and then be blessed with the blessings of the Torah "I will Love you, multiply your offspring and sustain you forever".
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber has served as the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and is the founder of its Pardes Program. He currently serves as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Orchos Chaim, Jerusalem, and President of TorahLab. Rabbi Haber can be reached at email@example.com.
Comments and questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"