Parashat Eikev 5780

Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3

In the opening of this week’s parasha, Moses offers the following promise to the Israelites:

“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 and multiply you; He will bless the issue of your womb and the produce of your soil, your new grain and wine and oil, the calving of your herd and the lambing of your flock, in the land that He swore to your fathers to assign to you. You shall be blessed above all other peoples: there shall be no sterile male or female among you or among your livestock. The LORD will ward off from you all sickness; He will not bring upon you any of the dreadful diseases of Egypt, about which you know, but will inflict them upon all your enemies.”

At face value, this seems to be saying: if you live in accordance with the commandments, God will protect you. The inverse of this is, at best, that God won’t extend this protection and at worst, that God may actually punish you. We know that this isn’t always how things work out. Good people experience hardship and suffering, while those who seem to disregard every code of ethical behavior often flourish. 

Perhaps another way to think about this passage is when we live our lives with a strong commitment to our values and with faith in something greater than ourselves, we are better able to cope with the inevitable challenges of life. 

Our rabbis teach in Pirkei Avot: “Who is wealthy? One who finds happiness in his or her portion in life.”

We should not live a life in relationship to Torah and mitzvot because we expect to receive a reward for doing so. Rather, we can approach Jewish living as a spiritual practice that can guide us toward finding meaning, satisfaction, and gratitude with what we do have. And that is a true blessing.