Weekly Portion: Parshat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)
Moshe continues his discourse guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success, lest we forget and ignore God.
Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness — “Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to possess this land … but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you.” (Deut. 9:5). He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf.)
This week’s portion dispels a common misconception. People think that “Man does not live by bread alone” means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, “Man does not live by bread alone … but by all that comes out of God’s mouth” (Deut. 8:3).
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you? “Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God’s commandments and decrees … so that all good will be yours” (Deut. 10:12).
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Before entering the land of Israel at the end of 40 years wandering in the desert, Moses speaks to assuage the fear in the heart of the people:
“If you will say in your heart, these nations are more numerous than we, how can we conquer them? Do not fear them, remember what the Almighty, your God, did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:17-18)
How will this lessen their worry?
Worry is being afraid that in a future situation you will not be able to cope. (It is also interest paid in advance on a debt which oftentimes never comes due.) Remembering how the Almighty has helped you in similar situations in the past makes it easier to trust in Him in the present. Thus, Moses had the Jewish people focus on how the Almighty dealt with the Egyptians. Likewise, whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, ask yourself, “When has the Almighty already shown me that He can help me overcome a difficulty similar to this?” It will increase your calm and your trust in God.