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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Ekev(66)

In this week's sedra Moses continues with his exhortation to the People; repeating parts of the history of their journey in the wilderness and at the same time teaching/warning them to keep G-d's mitzvos once they arrive in the Land.

Deut. 11:13

"And it will be if you heed My commandments that I command you today, to love Hashem, your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."


To love Hashem: Rashi: You should not say 'Behold I will learn in order that I will be rich; in order that I will be called 'Rabbi'; in order that I will get reward. Rather do all that you do out of love and in the end, the honor will come.


The command to love G-d is problematic on several points. How can we be commanded to love; love is a spontaneous emotion, how can it be commanded ? Can it be ordered on will? And, even if it were possible, how is one to love G-d, a spiritual Being, who cannot be seen or approached? Rashi's comment is meant to show us how this "love of G-d" can be practically accomplished. His answer is that we do G-d's mitzvahs for the love of Hashem and for no other ulterior purpose. Such a request can indeed be commanded of man, for it is an act that can be willfully striven for.

That said, there are several questions that can be asked on Rashi's comment.

What would you ask?

Your Question(s):


A Question: Why does Rashi (the midrash actually) choose learning as the example of a mitzvah that a person should not do for ulterior motives? Why not any of the other 612 mitzvahs?

Another Question: Why does Rashi say "in order to be rich" but when it comes to being a Rabbi he says "in order to be called Rabbi"? Why doesn't he use parallel wording "in order to be a Rabbi"?

And a last Question: Why does Rashi add at the end of this comment "and in the end, the honor will come"? Aren't we talking about learning for the love of Hashem - "For its own sake" - ? Why the need to tack on the surprise ending of receiving the reward of "honor"?

Do you have answers (or other questions!) ?

Your Answer(s):


Some Answers:

1) Rashi chose learning Torah as the mitzvah because our verse begins with "And it will be if you hear diligently" this seems to mean learning. On this basis Rashi speaks of studying the Torah, more so than any other mitzvah.

2) Rashi is pointing out motives of questionable value as life goals. Being a Rabbi is a not a goal of questionable value; being a teacher in Israel is an admirable occupation. But if one does this mainly for the honor he is given as a Rabbi, being called a Rabbi, then he has missed the point and has exploited Torah for personal gain.

3) Serving G-d for love would seem to be its own reward. But the Torah itself suggests rewards here. See the following verse (14) "And I will give the rains in their time" etc. So rewards are promised even though we are enjoined to serve G-d out of love. This is similar to the lesson from the Sayings of the Fathers (1: ?)

"Don't be like servants who serve their master in order to receive reward; rather be like servants who serve their master not in order to receive reward." Note that it does not say "in order not to receive reward," that would mean that we relinquish all consideration of reward. If we do a mitzvah we are entitled to reward, but that should not be our motivation for doing it in the first place.

(See Divrei Dovid)

"And in the End, Honor Will Come"

We should note a nuance of Rashi's phrasing. He says

"And in the end, honor will come."

He does not say:

"And honor will come in the end."

These two versions say the essentially the same thing. But there is a subtle difference. What is the difference between them?

Your Answer:


An Answer:

"And honor will come in the end," implies that honor (the first word in the phrase, is the emphasized word) is upper most in his mind. He is waiting patiently. When will it come? In other words, he still has the mindset of receiving something for his mitzvah - he looks forward to the honor he will gain, albeit after a while.

Whereas the phrase "And in the end, honor will come," has a different emphasis. Honor is almost an afterthought. It comes after "the end", after the mitzvah has been completed and the person is ready to move on to something else. The implication being that the honor he receives at the end, is anticlimactic, it is something he has neither expected nor striven for.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi." The 5 Volume set is available at all Jewish bookstores.

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