From Feet to Heart - Eikev

וְהָיָ֣ה עֵ֣קֶב תִּשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֤ת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְשָׁמַר֩ ה' אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ לְךָ֗ אֶֽת־ הַבְּרִית֙ וְאֶת־הַחֶ֔סֶד אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖ע לַאֲבֹתֶֽיךָ:

In the beginning of theפרשה it seems likeמשה רבינו is simply making up an agreement with us. ‘Because you listen and follow Hashem’s law- you will be worthy of getting his blessing’. In this meaning, our relationship with הקב"ה and his תורה ומצוות are very much like the business world, ‘No pain – No gain’. הקב"ה gave us a contract and we should fulfill it, and like two men, or companies, committed to any other agreement, we are supposed to be responsible for our obligations.

But when reading רש"י we can understand something much more overwhelming that changes the whole atmosphere of the contract. רש"י says that the meaning ofעקב in this pasuk isn’t only ‘because’.

רש"י comments that the meaning of עקב here is for ankle.

The lowest but very important part of our body. A part that we tend to forget even exists, but our entire ability to walk depends on it. Based on that meaning, רש"י explains that Moshe is talking specifically of the simple and plain מצוות which like our ankle we tend to forget. In this interpretation, the פסוק teaches us that the main demand is in the little letters of the contract. Unlike regular contracts, the goal isn’t only the main outcome. The goal is in the normal and everyday path towards that idealist outcome.

We should know that the whole concept of תורה ומצוות is really based on simple and everyday things. Without them we would not be able to overcome our journey, just like trying to walk when your ankle is broken.

It seems that we can take this comparison to the next level. One might live in a concept that the מצוות are something we should simply do as a task and nothing further. But, if we live under the understanding that תורה ומצוות are parts of our own flesh and blood, our entire approach changes. Our approach to it becomes passionate and touching.

We can live and feel the תורה as something that penetrates to the most touching and moving levels of our life, and if we live like that we can really pay attention to everything- even the smallest and plainest of things. When we are both living and feeling the מצוות, we feel ourselves, authentic and intimate.

The שפת אמת (the late rebbe from Gur ) goes further on with רש"י . He comments that the only way to really understand and hear the תורה is if you manage to extend your devotion to הקב"ה, even down to your feet. Only if you achieved the level of והיה עקב can you really hear!

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