OU Torah Insights ProjectParashat Eikev
Parshas Eikev begins on a high note. "And it will be, if you listen to these judgments and you observe and do them... [G-d] will love you and bless you and multiply you."
Our Sages tell us that this opening word, "Vehayah--And it will be," portends good news. It therefore follows that joy and happiness await those who hearken to and observe the ordinances of the Torah.
Happiness does not result from being free to do whatever one wants, with no thought to the consequences and absolved of accountability. This type of behavior may give one a charge, a quick highbut not a joy of lasting significance. Good times dont always bring about happy days.
"Vehayah eikev tishmeunAnd it will be, if you listen": What is the source of happiness? Listening to G-ds instruction, following a course of discipline that fulfills a Divinely mandated responsibility.
When our behavior is true to our calling, based on our potential and talent, when we make meaningful contributions to societythen we experience real, lasting happiness.
Rashi provides another insight into the joy of mitzvos, based on another interpretation of the word eikev. "If you heed the lighter commandmentsthose that people tread upon with their heel (akavav)."
In many instances of everyday life, in so many facets of human relations, we neglect or simply fail to see opportunities that make life more pleasant, more satisfying, more enriching, more ennoblingbecause we fail to recognize the importance of what we could have done.
How many of these possible and potential "lighter" mitzvos have we tread upon during the past year.
Think of the telephone calls we should have made, the thank you notes we should have written, the visits we should have taken, the classes we should have attended, the minyanim we should have prayed with.
These are some of the mitzvos kalos that we so often neglect, but from which we could reap such great rewards of satisfaction, joy, and camaraderie if we only paid them more attention.
If you want to bring joy into your life and the lives of others, listen to and perform those simple mitzvos that we tend to tread upon, that we think of as insignificant and thus dont give the proper due.
Along the same lines, there are mitzvos that have "footsteps behind them." We often fail to realize that good deeds bring about results well after the time that the good deed is performed.
A mitzvah may have long-lasting consequences. Bring a new person to shul, invite a newcomer for a Shabbos mealthe ramifications may last forever. Look at lasting friendships that are the result of one act of kindness or one simple introduction.
We often refer to ikvasa demeshichathe footsteps of Mashiachto describe our times. We feel redemption coming closer. If we live a life of "Vehayah eikev tishmeun in all its many facets, we hope to hear soon and in our time the footsteps of the Mashiach.
Rabbi Michael Shmidman
Rabbi Shmidman is rabbi of Congregation Orach Chaim in New York City.