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Perashat Ekev

L'ilui Nishmat Shari Haber A’h by Ray and Sharon Haber and Family

Perashat Ekev

This week’s Perashah opens with the words Vehaya ekev tishmeun et ha’mishpatim ha’eleh. "This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances." According to the Midrash, since the word ekev also means the heel of a foot, these commandments allude to the sort of injunctions that people may consider unimportant. In other words, these are Mitzvot that people may think they can tread on with their heel or treat lightly. But the truth is that we don't know the value of any of the Mitzvot, so we can't relate to any of them as being less significant than others. As it says in Pirke Avot (2:1) "Be scrupulous in performing a "minor" mitzvah as in a "major" one, for you do not know the reward given for the (respective) mitzvot." The following Pesukim continue: "Hashem will love you, bless and multiply you, and He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land; your grain, your wine, your oil; the offspring of your cattle and the flocks of your sheep and goats." The Pesukim continue with an abundance of Berachot for our children, our health and our livelihood. Just look at the Jewish population today all over the world; we are a population of just around 15 million, even after so many centuries. We are but a small fraction of one percent of the world's population, yet we have seen Berachah among our people that's drastically disproportionate to the rest of the world. We can see clearly the Berachot in this weeks perasha by the disproportion of Jews with our small numbers that have achieved great things, whether in medicine, law, the humanities, technology, and so many other fields including a tremendously high proportion of Nobel prize winners. Israel, in only the last 70 years since it's independence also leads the world in technology, agriculture and so many other areas in spite of the numerous disadvantages and setbacks that come from being a tiny country in a constant state of war surrounded by its enemies that constantly threaten to destroy us. Let's not fool ourselves, there's a great power in these Berachot and it truly does only come from following in the ways of Hashem and our holy Torah! On a recent trip to Russia the Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef met with the Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Rabbi thought it would be just a quick 'photo op' type of meeting, but Putin wanted to talk with the Rabbi at length. They sat and spoke for close to 90 minutes. Putin told the Rabbi that he considers himself an historian and has studied all of the great nations of the past – the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and Romans, and so on. He said that it has always amazed him that the Jews have outlived all of these dynasties despite their small number and the endless persecutions that they had to endure over the centuries. He asked Rabbi Yitzchak the secret to this amazing success and perseverance. The Rabbi was about to answer Putin’s question but President Putin decided to give his own answer. He said, “I believe the reason the Jewish people have outlasted all those other nations, is that they have always followed their Torah and because they listen to their Rabbis!” We can see this clearly from a Pasuk in last week’s Perashah, Va'et-hannan, where it says (4:6):"You shall safeguard and perform them (the Mitzvot), for it is your wisdom and discernment in the eyes of the people, who shall hear all of these decrees and who shall say: Surely a wise and discerning people is this great nation!" Rabenu Bahya comments:"The Torah states that universal acknowledgement of Israel’s wisdom will result even from its adherence to the decrees – the commandments for which no reason is revealed – because the wisdom inherent in the parts of the Torah that are accessible to rational study will convince intellectually honest people that there must be great divine wisdom in the decrees as well.” The Torah also wants to tell us to beware and not to get too proud of ourselves and our accomplishments. In Perek 8 Pasuk 17 it states: Kohi ve’otzem yadi asah li et ha’hayil hazeh! "My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth!" We must realize and be clear that although we may consider ourselves great businessmen, Hashem is guiding us each and every day. Hashem gave us the brains and the talents to earn a living. He let's us believe that we're doing the work, but the work that we do is just to let us think that we have something to do with it. Hashem says to Moses in perashat Beshalach, “mah tiss'ak elai?”"Why do you cry out to me?" Hashem then instructs Moses: "Speak to B'nei Yisrael and tell them to move forward!" According to Midrash, Nahshon ben Aminadav, a prince of the tribe of Judah, was the first one to take that leap of faith and jump into the water! Rabenu Bahya explains that the Yam Suf didn't split all at once, and therefore they were not able to see across to the other side; rather, there was a wall of water in front of them and with each step they took, the sea continued to split. Just as in life, we move forward step by step as we go through the trials and tribulations of our lives, and as we deal with them as they come, overcoming our challenges one by one. Only later can we look back and see with clarity at how we arrived where we are today! We have to constantly have Emunah and Bitahon that Hashem will be there for us and guide us through our lives, as long as we continue to follow in the Derech of Hashem, even though we can't possibly see what lies ahead of us! Hashem is saying to us: mah tiss'ak elai? “Why are you crying out to me?” Just take that leap of faith and have complete confidence and Emunah that Hashem is always with us! Just as Rabbi Diamond always teaches us, the work that we do is "Muchrah ve lo mo’il" which means, "It's necessary but it doesn't accomplish anything". This is an extremely hard concept to comprehend, but it teaches us that everything is from Hashem! Rabbi Diamond goes on to say that Hashem is the One who put it into our head to make those decisions in our businesses that work out well for us. As one successful friend of mine once told me many years ago: "We're just puppets that Hashem is controlling and our job is simply to go out and do our hishtadlut (input) and then Hashem will guide us by pulling our puppet strings". Hashem lets us think that it's our strength and our business acumen that's accomplishing things for us, but it's really Hashem testing us! This has been proven thousands of times throughout our community and around the world. We have seen how Hashem controls every step that we make. An amazing story that I heard first-hand and read in Rabbi David Ashear's Daily Emunah book a while ago, is about a businessman who had been licensed to sell clothing with Disney characters. One day he received a call from Disney informing him that they needed to take away his license because they had given it out to too many vendors. The man was devastated, these products were the staple of his business, and losing them would deal him a crippling blow. He actually had a meeting scheduled that week with Wal-Mart to discuss the sale of his Disney line of clothes, and now he would have nothing to show them. He was thinking of canceling the meeting, but then he decided that he would place his trust in Hashem. He called his Rabbi to receive some encouragement, and the Rabbi told him, "Your Parnasah doesn't come from Disney, it comes from Hashem. Strengthen your trust in Hashem, and everything will be fine." The man was very encouraged, and he made his way to the meeting with the buyer from Wal-Mart relying solely on Hashem's help. Along the way, he just happened to meet his brother-in-law, something that had never happened before. His brother-in-law was in the Childrens shoe business, and the man told him of his predicament and how he was on the way to meet with Wal-Mart. His brother-in-law told him that he was also trying to strike a deal with Wal-Mart, and he had received a license from Dr. Seuss to sell sneakers with the "Cat in the Hat" license. His brother-in-law suggested that he try to sell clothing with the "Cat in the Hat" designs, but the man told him that he didn't even have a license yet, and had nothing to show them. His brother-in-law said that all of the posters he had with him had pictures of sneakers, but he did have a piece of scrap paper with a design for the "Cat in the Hat". He offered to give him the drawings so he could show them to the Wal-Mart buyer. So this man went into the meeting with nothing but this scrap of paper with hand drawings of the "Cat in the Hat" design on it. The buyer at the meeting asked him about Disney, and he explained that he no longer carried a license to sell Disney clothes, but he then took out the picture of the "Cat in the Hat" design. He explained that American kids these days do a lot of reading, and Dr. Seuss's books are extremely popular. Being that Wal-Mart was "America's store" it would really be great for them to carry this "Cat in the Hat" clothing. The buyer was very impressed, and he called in his staff. All the Wal-Mart executives came and looked at this scrap of paper which the man just happened to pick up on his way to the meeting. Everybody loved the idea, and they extended the largest order to this man that he had ever received. Immediately after the meeting he called up Dr. Seuss and obtained the "Cat in the Hat" license. Wal-Mart loved the idea so much that they had a person stand by the entrance of each of its 2500 stores wearing the hat from the "Cat in the Hat." This man placed his full trust in Hashem, and Hashem came through all the way! May we all realize that all of the Mitzvot and Halachot that Hashem gave us are important, and that we should try hard to follow them to the best of our ability. May we also realize that Hashem is in control and that as we follow the ways of the Torah, He will bless us beyond our greatest expectations with children, health, and Parnasah. But we must always know that it all comes from Hashem and we must be careful not to delude ourselves into thinking that it’s our efforts that produced anything, because all the gifts that we have are truly Berachot from Hashem! Amen! Shabbat Shalom! Jack E. Rahmey with the Guidance and Teachings of Rabbi Amram Sananes Leiluiy Nishmat.... Eliyahu Ben Rachel Malka Bat Garaz Sarah Bat Chanah Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher Shulamit Bat Helaina Meir Ben Latifa Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Esther Bat Sarah Rav Haim Ben Rivka Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana Yitzchak Ben Adele Rafael Ben Miriam Chanah Bat Esther Moshe Ben Mazal Moshe Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal Avraham Ben Garaz Ovadia Ben Yosef Yaakov Ben Rachel

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