• Daily Aliya for Ekev, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe informs the Israelites that if they follow G‑d’s ways and cleave to Him, they will easily occupy the land of Israel, and no man will stand up against them.

    The “deal” that the Parsha began with is repeated at its conclusion – If we will keep all the mitzvot, motivated by a love of G-d; if we follow in his footsteps (by performing acts of kindness) and cling to Him… then we will prevail against mightier nations than ourselves. The Parsha concludes with promises of successful conquest of the Land – if we keep our side of the deal.

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe tells the Israelites that the land of Israel is constantly dependent upon G‑d for irrigating rains, and that the land is constantly under G‑d’s watchful eyes. We then read the second paragraph of the Shema prayer. In this section we are admonished to observe G‑d’s commandments, which will cause G‑d to supply bountiful rainfall and harvests. Non-observance will lead to exile. We are commanded regarding prayer, tefillin, mezuzah, and teaching Torah to our children.

    This Aliya contains the second paragraph of Shema, and includes the phrase “if listening you will listen” (11:13). Rashi explains that the double language teaches that if we study what you’ve already learned, we will discover a new and deeper understanding. The Torah is unique in that it offers so much on so many levels, from appreciating the basic story, to the subtle terminologies, to the extra words providing hidden messages to those that care to analyze them. How lucky we are to have such brilliance to enjoy!

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe charges the Israelites to love and fear G‑d, and to serve Him. He expounds on G‑d’s greatness, and impresses on the Israelites their great fortune: that G‑d has chosen them to be His treasured nation. He again reminds them of the many miracles G‑d had performed on their behalf since they left Egypt.

    This aliya contains the instruction to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (10:16), a rather difficult assignment considering there is no such thing. Rather, just like men are born with foreskin that needs to be removed to “complete” the Jew, here too people are born with the natural tendencies to follow their desires, and need to rein in those desires by purging our hearts of certain physical tendencies. That doesn’t mean that we need to ignore our physical desires, because the instruction is to remove the extra layer so we can get to our hearts. So the ultimate goal is to do what’s appropriate for our hearts, and the best way to do that is to remove the physical layers that might be in the way of that goal. How? The Passuk continues… “don’t be so stubborn!” Embrace change, grow, improve!

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe recounts how after the Golden Calf debacle, G‑d commanded him to carve two new tablets upon which G‑d engraved the Ten Commandments, to replace the first set of tablets which Moshe had shattered. At that time, G‑d also designated the Levites to be His holy servants, because of the devotion they demonstrated throughout the Golden Calf incident.

    G-d forgave the Jews for the Golden Calf “at that time” (after forty days), and only then began the process of inscribing the second tablets. The term “at that time” seems superfluous, which needs to be explained. Beyond that, though: What took forty days? If G-d was willing to forgive the Jews for their sin, why did He wait forty days to do so? The answer to both could add an important outline for dealing with mistakes and with pain associated with those mistakes. Often time helps us process outlying events in our lives, and is an important part of the healing process. Time heals not only physical wounds, but emotional wounds as well, and both are quite often a necessary part of life.

  • Dvar for Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

    Parshat Ekev is where we learn of the benefits and rewards, punishments and consequences, of following and not following the Mitzvot (commandments) set forth for us in the Torah. Among those commandments is a famous one (8:10), which says that “you will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good land that He gave you.”  If you just ate food, why are you thanking G-d for land? You should be thanking Him for the food itself. Why be indirect? The answer lies in understanding the true difference between animals and people…What separates us from animals is our ability to choose, and our exercising of that choice. Our nature tells us what we NEED to do, while our mind (and religion) tells us what we SHOULD do. Therefore, the more things we do simply because of habit and without thinking, the less free will we’re exercising, which makes us more like animals. Conversely, the more restraint we exercise, the more freedom we’re expressing, because we weren’t slaves to our nature. What makes being a Jew so special is that we have so many ‘choices’ of commandments we can perform, and each of those positive choices make us less like animals and more like G-d.

    With this in mind, even if we already ‘perform’ Mitzvot now, if we do it out of habit and without thinking and actively deciding to do it, we’re just as guilty of doing it ‘naturally’. For Jews, deciding to do something is just as important as doing it, because then we think about why we do it, and the source, reason, and meaning of it all become part of the action. Now we can understand why we thank G-d for the LAND, when we merely eat its bread: We not only thank G-d for the bread we eat, but we also think of the land that it came from, because we’ve thought it through to its source, instead of taking bread at face value. The lesson of the Parsha is for us to think about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and realize how much control we have. Perhaps we should think of at least one habit we have, and use this lesson to push us to overcome our natural tendency to blindly
    surrender to that habit.

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe tells the Israelites that they will inherit the Land of Israel not due to their own merits and righteousness, but because of the promise G‑d made to the Patriarchs. In fact, Moshe reminds them of the many times they angered G‑d while in the desert, placing special emphasis on the sin of the Golden Calf, when G‑d would have annihilated the Israelites if not for Moshe’s successful intercession on their behalf. He also makes brief reference to the other times when the Israelites rebelled against G‑d.

    Modesty and self-confidence is a very sensitive balance, a struggle we deal with internally, as well as with our children. In order to conquer challenges in life, one must be confident in their ability. To that end, thinking that the results are owed to us can only lead to complacency, a lack of appreciation for what we have, which could potentially lead to squandering what we had. This Aliya helps the people realize that what we have was given to us, and although we continually have to work to maintain it, the acquisition required G-d’s help and forgiveness, and thus we are indebted. The purpose of this Aliya is to help us maintain the proper perspective in life, not by reminding us of our mistakes, but by reminding us of G-d’s absolution from those mistakes.

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe admonishes the Israelites that the new-found fortune which will be their lot once they enter the Promised Land should not lead them to forget the One who provided them with the wealth. Such a blunder would lead to their destruction and ruin.

    The warning against getting caught up in wealth and success (verse 15) describes how one might forget the snakes, vipers, scorpions and drought that was solved by having water flow out of a rock, all items that have a strikingly earthy denominator. The very next Passuk reminds us of the Mann that fell from the sky, a stark contrast to the previous earthy items. But the Jews didn’t have the Mann fall on them as they looked up to the sky, the Mann waited for them when they woke up. Why? It could be that the Mann was the ultimate bridge between the earthy elements and the source from which they came, so we’d need to see the Mann on the ground and realize that it came from above. If we realized that our wealth and sustenance came from G-d, then we’d realize that the snakes, challenges and troubles came from G-d as well, and are there to help strengthen and empower us to succeed in life.

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: Moshe continues his pep talk to the Israelites, cautioning them not to fear the Canaanite armies for G‑d will wage battle for them. He also notifies them that their entry into the Land is not due to their own virtues – Moshe reminds them of their many transgressions to emphasize this point – but rather, it is in the merit of the nation’s Forefathers. The commandments of prayer and bentching (Grace After Meals) are mentioned. The second part of the Shema is also found in this portion.

    This Aliya begins with a promise: if the Israelites observe G‑d’s commandments, they will be blessed in a multitude of ways, including the obliteration of their Canaanite enemies. Moshe enjoins the Israelites not to fear these enemies, for G‑d will miraculously deliver them into their hands. Moshe instructs the Israelites to destroy all the idols and their accouterments which they will find in Canaan. Moshe then discusses their forty-year desert ordeal, and the many tests and miracles which accompanied them. Moshe provides a description of many of the wonderful features of the Land of Israel, and the Israelites are commanded to bless G‑d after they eat and are sated.

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe tells the Israelites that the land of Israel is constantly dependent upon G‑d for irrigating rains, and that the land is constantly under G‑d’s watchful eyes. We then read the second paragraph of the Shema prayer. In this section we are admonished to observe G‑d’s commandments, which will cause G‑d to supply bountiful rainfall and harvests. Non-observance will lead to exile. We are commanded regarding prayer, tefillin, mezuzah, and teaching Torah to our children.

    This Aliya contains the second paragraph of Shema, and includes the phrase “if listening you will listen” (11:13). Rashi explains that the double language teaches that if we study what you’ve already learned, we will discover a new and deeper understanding. The Torah is unique in that it offers so much on so many levels, from appreciating the basic story, to the subtle terminologies, to the extra words providing hidden messages to those that care to analyze them (and so much more). How lucky we are to have such brilliance to enjoy!

  • Daily Aliya for Ekev, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe charges the Israelites to love and fear G‑d, and to serve Him. He expounds on G‑d’s greatness, and impresses on the Israelites their great fortune: that G‑d has chosen them to be His treasured nation. He again reminds them of the many miracles G‑d had performed on their behalf since they left Egypt.

    This aliya contains the instruction to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (10:16), a rather difficult assignment considering there is no such thing. Rather, just like men are born with foreskin that needs to be removed to “complete” the Jew, here too people are born with the natural tendencies to follow their desires, and need to rein in those desires by purging our hearts of certain physical tendencies. That doesn’t mean that we need to ignore our physical desires, because the instruction is to remove the extra layer so we can get to our hearts. So the ultimate goal is to do what’s appropriate for our hearts, and the best way to do that is to remove the physical layers that might be in the way of that goal. How? The Passuk continues… “don’t be so stubborn!” Embrace change, grow, improve!

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