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In this week’s parsha, Moshe Rabbenu continues his farewell address, in which he bequeaths to the Jewish people, a formula for survival EVERY STEP COUNTS
"Now then, O Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d ask of you? Only to revere the L-rd your G-d, to go in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul..." (Deuteronomy 10:12)
The Talmud in the tractate of Brachos asks, "Is fearing G-d such a small thing that Moshe uses the diminutive "only"? And our sages answer, "Yes, for Moshe, who was so close to G-d, it was indeed a simple thing. Still, that response is puzzling, for after all, how does that help us? We are not on Moses` level. Moreover, reverence for G-d is the responsibility of every Jew, so how are we to fulfill it? The Talmud teaches that if we surround ourselves with G-d fearing people, then our awareness and reverence for HaShem will be an easily attained goal. Our prayers, our Torah learning, our observance, will all soar in the company of the righteous. Many times, people ask, what can I do to improve myself as a Jew...my observance of mitzvot, my prayer, and my Torah study? The answer is simple -- surround yourself with people who are proficient in those areas, people who truly believe, and their faith will become infectious.
Moshe, our rabbi, gives us many more prescription in this parsha as to how we may best maintain our close relationship with HaShem, and I will cite just a few: The portion opens with “V'hoya ekev..." "And it shall be if - because you shall listen..." (Deut. 7:12) Literally translated however, the word "ekev" does not mean "if" or "because", but "heel" -- meaning that life is made up of steps, and if we are cautious about those little steps that we take and realize that every little step leads to a big one, to a life of Torah, or, G-d forbid, a life of alienation from G-d, then we will take extra precautions about every step that we contemplate.
The word Ekev - heel, also reminds us that all mitzvot are equally important, and we cannot regard any of them as inconsequential --by treading upon them. The Torah is not a supermarket in which we go shopping and discard that which we find burdensome. Ekev can also be interpreted as "footsteps" -- meaning that reverence for G-d becomes easy, because we all had Bubbies and Zeides who made a path for us -- we need only follow in their footsteps.
Finally, when we feel "ekev" -- our feet dragging us down, when we are overcome by sadness, then we must remember the word which precedes Ekev -- “V'hoya, which is a code word for happiness. As Jews, we must be in a constant state of contentment and joy, and not give into dark moods. How, you might ask, can we achieve that? Once again, by following the remainder of that passage, demonstrating our commitment by listening, by studying, and by observing the Torah of G-d. If we do that, then we will be able to lift our feet with joy, and no task will be too difficult for us.
This Torah portion is dedicated in memory of