Greetings from the Jewish Congregation of Mason City, Adas Israel. Each week we bring you Torah Thoughts...some commentary on the Torah portion of the week. This week we are in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12 - 11:25. It is called Parsha Aikev for the second
word in this portion, "Aikev" or "the reward".
We open with Moses speaking the Israel, "This shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances, and you observe and perform them; Hashem, your G-d, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers." The Midrash (conversation) also says the word "Aikev" means heel. This refers to the sort of commandments that we may regard as relatively unimportant so we feel we can tread on them with our heel. The Torah is telling us that if we are careful to observe even these "neglected commandments" we can be certain that G-d will reward us with his "covenant and kindness".
Here Moses also warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than G-d has power) and against self-righteousness -- "Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to possess this land ... but because of the wickedness of these nations that G-d is driving them out before you." (Deut. 9:5). He then details our rebellions against G-d during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moses broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf.)
This week's portion dispels a common misconception. People think that "Man does not live by bread alone" means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, "Man does not live by bread alone ... but by all that comes out of God's mouth" (Deut. 8:3). Context friends...context.
The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does G-d want of you? "Only that you remain in awe of G-d your L-rd, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving G-d your L-rd with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep G-d's commandments and decrees ... so that all good will be yours" (Deut. 10:12).
We hope this helps a bit.
Services are THIS Friday evening at 7:15pm and we will study from this chapter. Our learning session "Midrash" takes place on Saturday morning starting at 10am.
You are welcome to come to both our services and our Bible Study...please know our mission is not to "turn you into a Jew" (we are actually forbidden to do that...) but to share with you and others the wisdom of the Torah and what it says to us today.
Hope to see you in Shul!