When is Fear Positive?

When is Fear Positive?

Aug 20, 2011 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Eikev

Fears of crisis have filled the news this summer: political gridlock and epic heat waves here in the United States; economic woes on this continent, as well as across Europe; riots in Great Britain; the massacre in Norway; and social upheaval continuing across North Africa and the Middle East.

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The Root of All Blessing

The Root of All Blessing

Aug 12, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Eikev

Loyalty to covenant and the observance of mitzvot are the theme of Parashat Eikev. Even more movingly (and especially at this time of distress in Israel), the parashah speaks of the beauty and blessing of the land of Israel. In addition to enumerating the seven species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates), Torah relates: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill . . . a land where you may eat food without stint, and where you will lack nothing” (Deuteronomy 8:7–10). 

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The Species of Israel

The Species of Israel

Aug 27, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Eikev

This past summer, I walked through a dream. I had the blessing, along with Rabbi David Hoffman, of leading a very special group through the length and breadth of the Land of Israel. Some forty-two leaders from Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico – many of them students of the JTS Kollot: Voices of Learning program – joined together in the presence of Chancellor Ismar Schorsch to journey through Jewish tradition and text. With Tanakh in hand, we began our journey at Beit Hatefuzot, The Museum of the Diaspora. There we were treated to a bird’s eye view of Jewish history. The following morning, we embarked on an expansive and emotional ten-day trek, in which we encountered the biblical, Rabbinic, medieval, and modern periods. More than a mission, this experience was a pilgrimage that animated Torah. And nowhere did this encounter come alive more than at Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel.

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What Does “Chosen” Mean?

What Does “Chosen” Mean?

Aug 7, 2004 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Eikev

Israel is the heart and soul of the Jewish people; it is the home of our nation. Over a very special ten days in July, I had the honor of teaching with the Jacksonville Federation’s Mission to Israel. Some eighty-five participants: fifty adults and thirty-five children, joined together to express solidarity with Israel. We witnessed first-hand the miracles of modern day Israel in the absorption of immigrants from arbah kanfot ha’aretz, the four corners of the world, and in the substantive educational programs designed to make the integration of young Ethiopian immigrants more nurturing and successful.

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Love vs. Chaos

Love vs. Chaos

Aug 16, 2003 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Eikev

It is often said that Judaism emphasizes doing, not believing. Actions are what matter. This is only partially true. It has long been recognized that intention and emotion, while not sufficient for the practice of Judaism, are necessary to it.

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A Minature Torah

A Minature Torah

Jul 27, 2002 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Eikev

Jews who do not call themselves religious nonetheless do a number of things that are religious commandments. This is what we are told by various surveys and it is confirmed by anecdotal evidence. These include lighting Hanukkah candles, attending some form of Passover service, fasting on Yom Kippur and going to synagogue for some portion of the High Holy Days.

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Humility Through Prayer

Humility Through Prayer

Aug 7, 2004 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Eikev

By Rabbi Robert Kahn

When you have eaten your fill, and have built fine houses to live in, and your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold have increased, and everything you own has prospered, beware lest your heart become haughty and you forget the Lord your God who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage (D’varim 8:11-14).

This passage in Parashat Eikev comes as a warning to the Israelites that in the future, when life is good, not to forget either who gave you the good life, nor how you got there. Particularly when life is good, the Torah teaches us to remember our humble beginnings.

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A Fertile Land

A Fertile Land

Aug 16, 2003 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Eikev

The themes of fertility and barrenness are central to the biblical narrative. It is striking how often we encounter barren women in the Bible. Sarah, the women of Abimelekh’s household, Rebekah, Rachel, Manoah’s wife, Hannah, and the Shunamite woman are all examples of barren women whose wombs are opened by God. Clearly, the process of reproduction holds a key to biblical theology. The very covenant of Israel is presented as a brit of fertility. God promises Abram, “This is my covenant with you. You shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you exceedingly fertile.”

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