A Legacy of Peace

A Legacy of Peace

Jul 30, 2021 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Commentary | Eikev

Why do we still need kohanim? What purpose do hereditary priests—the descendants of Aaron—serve in a culture that appoints religious leaders based primarily on education? Whatever authority rabbis have stems mostly from their knowledge and individual personalities, but the kohanim inherit theirs. Leviticus 21 describes the kohanim as a holy caste who, due to nothing other than heredity, assume the religious leadership of B’nei Yisrael. Their heritage is not land, like the other clans of Israel; rather, their legacy is God, Sanctuary, and sacrifice alone.

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A Moment That Is Always Present

A Moment That Is Always Present

Aug 7, 2020 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Eikev

Parashat Eikev is surrounded by matching bookends. The verse that ends the previous parashah, Va’et-ḥannan, and the verse that begins the subsequent parashah, Re’eh, both contain the word, hayyom, or “today.”

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A Land That’s Too Good?

A Land That’s Too Good?

Aug 23, 2019 By Nicole Wilson-Spiro | Commentary | Eikev

I received a call one evening this summer from the doctor at Ramah Palmer. My son had tripped, and she wanted permission to bring him off camp the next day to have his swollen wrist x-rayed. Of course! But by the next morning I had convinced myself that I should pick him up from camp and bring him to our local orthopedist. I even convinced my husband that this would be best for insurance, since our orthopedist is in our insurance network. Unfortunately for me, the camp’s local hospital also turned out to be in our network. Truthfully, I wanted him to come home because I wanted to see him with my own eyes to make sure he was OK. My son is eleven, and he was hurt badly enough that he needed x-rays.

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Would Our Mother Forget Us?

Would Our Mother Forget Us?

Aug 3, 2018 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Eikev

This Shabbat is the second of the seven Shabbatot of consolation that follow Tishah Be’av, and, as on all these Shabbatot, its haftarah comes from the last part of the book of Isaiah. These are highly appropriate passages to console us after we commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem, because they were written by a prophet who lived in exile roughly a generation after the Babylonian empire demolished the Jerusalem Temple, destroyed the Judean state, and exiled much of its population. 

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Walking in God’s Paths

Walking in God’s Paths

Aug 11, 2017 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Eikev

Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. . . . When we choose a path through a city or forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, construct a mental map of the world, settle on a way forward, and translate that plan into a series of footsteps.

—Ferris Jabr, “Why Walking Helps Us Think,” The New Yorker (September 2014)

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Love the Stranger

Love the Stranger

Aug 26, 2016 By Ethan Linden | Commentary | Eikev

In our parashah this week we find an odd statement masquerading as banal—a revolutionary idea that at first glance seems familiar, but is something else entirely. In Deuteronomy 10:19 the Torah commands: “Ve-ahavtem et hager ki gerim hayitem be-eretz mitzrayim” (“Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”).

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Moshe Learns to Say Good-bye

Moshe Learns to Say Good-bye

Aug 26, 2016 By Rachel Rosenthal | Commentary | Eikev

One last time
the people will hear from me
one last time
and if we get this right
we’re gonna teach ’em how to say
goodbye.
You and I—

—George Washington in Hamilton: An American Musical

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The Afterlife of Our Actions

The Afterlife of Our Actions

Aug 7, 2015 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Eikev

Will Israel receive all the rain it needs this coming year? It depends on whether we are faithful to God’s word. At least that is the claim made in a biblical passage that we recite twice a day as part of the Shema:

If, then, you obey the commandments that I have enjoined upon you this day, loving the Lord your God and serving Him with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. . .Take care not to be lured way and serve other gods and bow to them. For the Lord’s anger will flare up against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain. . . (Deut. 11:13-14, 16-17, NJPS translation)

Many of us are uncomfortable reciting these verses.

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Snacking and Satiation

Snacking and Satiation

Aug 7, 2015 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Eikev

Moses relays to the People of Israel that when they eat and are “satisfied,” they should bless God for the land that was given to them (Deut. 8:10). This passage from Parashat Eikev, incorporated into the Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), tethers the sensation of fullness and abundance to the act of offering gratitude for the source of our food. In this modern era of overly-processed packaged goods and “in-between snacking,” how many of us are actually tuned into the moment when we experience satiation, or take the time to consider the original source of what we ingest? We crunch on cookies in between errands, slurp sodas at our desks, and leave a trail of crumbs behind us as we hurry to catch a bus. 

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Taking Responsibility for the Land

Taking Responsibility for the Land

Aug 15, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Eikev

Parashat Eikev deals heavily with the theme of entering and securing the Land of Israel.

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Waters of Uncertainty

Waters of Uncertainty

Aug 15, 2014 By Alisa Braun | Commentary | Eikev

“If it doesn’t rain, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” commented a NASA water-cycle scientist recently on the drought that has been devastating California.

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Consolation and Repair

Consolation and Repair

Jul 24, 2013 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Eikev

Here we find ourselves two weeks into the seven weeks marked ever so gently by their haftarot, the shiv’ah d’nehemata (seven haftarot of comfort or consolation)—seven weeks in which the haftarot have nothing to do with the parashiyot, and everything to do with where we are in the calendar year: heading from Tish’ah Be’Av into the season of teshuvah, and ultimately into a new year.

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Gratitude for the Land

Gratitude for the Land

Jul 24, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Eikev

Parashat Eikev is centered on the Land of Israel.

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Good Ecology Makes Good Theology

Good Ecology Makes Good Theology

Aug 11, 2012 By Stephen P. Garfinkel | Commentary | Eikev

Last week’s reading and this week’s—which together form most of Moses’s second major valedictory speech to the people—provide two aspects of one integral message.

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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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Challenging the God of Eikev

Challenging the God of Eikev

Aug 20, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Eikev

Parashat Eikev, for me, is brutal. The crush of the Deuteronomic God, the if-then God of wrath and punishment, is overbearing. The choice that God offers in our parashah is not a choice: “And if you do obey these rules and observe them carefully, the Lord your God will maintain faithfully for you the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers: He will favor you and bless you . . . (Deut. 7:1213). On the other hand: “If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve them or bow down to them, I warn you this day that you shall certainly perish . . . ” (Deut. 8:19). The God of Eikev infantilizes, expecting that we will respond to an if-then choice, which is not a choice at all but rather a display of raw power.

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Adhering to God’s Word

Adhering to God’s Word

Jul 31, 2010 By Raymond Scheindlin | Commentary | Eikev

In Parashat Eikev, we hear the voice of Moses, that most eloquent of preachers, exhorting the Israelites as to how to behave in the Land that he is never to see. He reminds them of their past misconduct and warns that if it continues, they will not thrive in the Land. He devotes much of his attention to the Land itself.

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The God of Israel

The God of Israel

Aug 8, 2009 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Eikev

Again and again in this week’s portion the Torah commands us, reminds us, pleads with us, to hear the words that it comes to teach…”If/because [eikev] you hear and obey these rules and observe them faithfully,” Moses promises Israel in the very first verse of the parashah, God will favor you, bless you, multiply you (Deut. 7:12–13). If/because [eikev] you do not hear and obey the voice of the Lord your God, Moses warns the people at the close of the following chapter, “you shall certainly perish like the nations the Lord will cause to perish before you” (8:20).

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How Judaism Is Like an iPhone

How Judaism Is Like an iPhone

Aug 23, 2008 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Eikev

Since I am a self-professed “techno-junkie,” it took considerable restraint to wait the year for the second-generation iPhone to be released. Having read every review, followed its development on blogs, and waited patiently, only recently did I purchase my iPhone. Before it was in my hand I knew everything it was capable of, yet I was surprised by one aspect: its simplicity. As an Apple aficionado, I was expecting the attractive design, but after opening the box, I realized that there was one thing missing: a manual. The iPhone expects you to intuit its functions, discover its capabilities, and just use it.

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Our Choice in the Shema

Our Choice in the Shema

Aug 12, 2006 By David-Seth Kirshner | Commentary | Eikev

This week’s Parashat Eikev is about hearing and listening.

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