Parshat Ekev starts with Moshe reminding the people that if they keep G-d’s laws, then G-d will keep the covenant that He made to their ancestors by giving them the land of Israel and children (7:12-26). However, Moshe later told the people not to feel like they deserved this land. Rather, it’s because other people are so wicked that G-d is giving the Jews their land (9:4-5). What is the point of a covenant if conditions have to be met for the covenant to be honored? Secondly, do we only get land and children because we’re not as bad as everyone else, and not because we were promised it or earned it?
Rabbi David Block (alephbeta.org) suggests that all three reasons are simultaneously accurate. The initial covenant with Avraham (Abraham) was given to positively impact the whole world, not just Avraham and his progeny (Genesis 12:3). Avraham’s mission was to build a nation that will change and improve the world, a task that requires land and children to advance and accomplish those objectives. However, the covenant is conditional on our commitment to following the Torah’s laws. Therefore, our Parsha begins by reminding us to improve ourselves before we can enhance the world. Don’t wait until you’re rich to give charity, don’t wait until you’re happy to smile at someone, and don’t wait until you’re unemployed or retired to make time to study Torah. Small commitments today will provide us with bigger opportunities tomorrow.