Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas Ekev

Striding Forward

Moshe Rabbenu tells Am Yisroel of the blessings awaiting, if they keep the mitzvos...

“And it shall be because you will hearken to these laws... And He shall love you, bless you, and multiply you...” (7:12,13)

Rashi says that this verse refers to the 'minor' mitzvos - ‘ekev' also means heel. That is, “If the 'minor' mitzvos, those that man treads with his heel, are hearkened to (then ‘He shall love you, bless you...’)"

But how can Rashi belittle mitzvos - albeit 'minor' mitzvos - by refering to them as commandments which man treads with his heels?

The Zohar (B'reishis, 170) teaches that the 613 mitzvos correspond to the 613 parts of the body - 248 positive commandments, for the 248 organs; 365 prohibitions, for the 365 tendons. Each mitzvah gives spiritual nourishment to its corresponding body part.

The body is made up of some vital organs (the brain, heart, liver, etc.) and some less important organs (ears, fingers, toes, etc.) The loss of these less important organs, while not life-threatening, can constrain activity, and reduce the quality of life. One such organ is the heel. It is not vital. But without heels, a person cannot stand, or step forward.

Rashi, then, intends the following: “If the 'minor' mitzvos, those (that are needed so) that man can tread with his heel, are hearkened to (then ‘He shall love you, bless you, and multiply you’). Though these 'minor' mitzvos are not the most vital - they, too, must be obeyed if we are to stride forward, to advance spiritually and receive the reward of the righteous. (Sfas Emes, Ekev 5634)

"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes"- excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah"(Targum Press) and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.

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