Divrei Torah

PARSHAS EIKEV 5776

In the beginning of this week's parsha the Torah states, "And it will be if you listen to the Mitzvos." The Torah uses the word "Eikev" to mean "if". The Torah promises blessings upon the Jewish nation. There is one caveat, however. These blessings are only bestowed with one condition -- "if you shall listen to the word of G-d  and fulfill his commandments." Rashi, who usually concentrates on the simple explanations, deviates from his norm. In his commentary to the opening line of the parsha, he translates the word "Eikev" in an entirely different light. He explains that the word "eikev" translates as heel. He explains the verse based upon a midrash. "If you will observe Mitzvos that are ordinarily trampled upon by the heel of your foot," then the blessings of G-d shall follow.

Rabbi Mordechai Kaminetzky poses the following question: Rashi's usual style is to first explain a verse in its simple explanation. Then he proceeds to expound the verse in a Midrashic light. In this case, Rashi uses only a Midrashic explanation. Why?

Rabbi Kaminetzky explains that perhaps Rashi is telling us the secret of spiritual survival - the formula that may be the secret to the Jew's existence and continuity. It's the small things - the Mitzvos we tend to forget - those we trample with our heel – it is those that merit the blessings

There are certain Mitzvos that anyone who prides himself as a Jew would not forgo -Yom Kippur, Pesach, Mezuzah and kashrus. But there are too many others that get trampled.

Rashi explains the verse by stating that if the little Mitzvos are ignored, it will not take long before the major Mitzvos join the little ones on their trek to oblivion. The baby will be thrown out with the bathwater.

The Torah promises us the bounty of its blessing if we observe the mitzvos. But Rashi gives us a lesson in assuring continuity. In the American colonies the saying was “don’t tread on me.” Rashi is telling us the simple meaning. “Don't tread on me” - the little Mitzvos. Watch the Mitzvos that everyone tends to forget. If those “heel” commandments will be considered important, then all the Mitzvos will ultimately be observed.