This Week’s Torah Portion | August 21 – August 27, 2016 – 17 Av – 23 Av, 5776

Ekev (Because) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Ekev (עֵקֶב | Consequence)

Torah: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3

Gospel: John 13:31-15:27

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The Parashah for this week August 21-27, 2016 is called Ekev- “In Consequence of…”

TORAH: Deuteronomy 7:12—11:25

HAFTARAH: Isaiah 49:14—51:3 

*Deut. 7:16. “Also you shall devour all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you; your eye shall not pity them…” 

It is instructive to compare this “devouring” with that mentioned in the evil report of the ten spies 40 years earlier, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants” (Num. 13.32), and with the ‘bread’ in Caleb’s good report at the same time, “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land…Do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:7-9).

*Deut. 8: 3. “He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna…that he might make you know that humankind (Hebrew: the adam ) shall not live by bread alone; but by every utterance of the LORD’s mouth does the human live.”

*Deut. 8:5. “And you knew in your heart that as a man chastises his son the LORD your God chastises you.” 

Cff: Heb 12:7-11: “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten…Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

*Deut. 8:6-10. “Therefore you shall guard the commandments of YHVH your God, to walk in His ways and to revere Him. For YHVH your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.”

*Deut. 8:16. “…that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end—“

*Deut. 9:5-6. “It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

At least eleven times in this Torah Reading (7:12, 7:13; 8:1, 8:18; 9:5-6, 9:27-28; 10:11, 10:15-16, 10:22; 11:8-9, 11:18-21) the LORD through Moses calls to Israel’s attention His oath to their Fathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—regarding the land which He would soon be dispossessing for them and granting as an eternal heritage (“like the days of the heavens above the earth”—11:21). It was an oath of covenant and kindness (Hebrew: hesed) from God (7:12). He “set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day” (10:15).

But this was manifestly not because of any special, inherent goodness or righteousness in Israel (7:12). Her part was to realize this, to receive this kindness in humility and obedience, to acknowledge that she was stiff-necked and stubborn, and to circumcise the “foreskin” of her heart (10:16). She must embrace as essential the words the LORD had released to her, applying them throughout each day to every area of her existence (11:18-21).

Unlike any other people on earth, Israel and her place in the Holy Land bear a distinct relation to an unfailing Word of God over her forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)—a Word which is still in effect, now that she has been returned to that Land. “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28). ”Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him” (Isaiah 51:1-2; From this week’s Haftarah).

God’s covenant with the Fathers regarding their descendants and the Land remains. But the righteousness required of those descendants is still, as with Abraham their father, a righteousness which comes through faith in God and His promised Lamb, whose day Abraham rejoiced to see and was glad! (Romans 4:20-22; Genesis 22:8; John 8:56)

*Deut. 9:21. “Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain.” 

No mention is made of where the brook comes from in the original account of Exodus 32:20. In the previous chapter 8:15, the LORD is the One who brought forth water for Israel “out of the flinty rock in a thirsty land where there was no water.” I Corinthians 10:4 reveals that “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Messiah.” Ezekiel 47:1- and Zechariah 14:4,8 speak of a future time when living water will tumble forth out from another mountain, this time the Mountain of the Lord in Jerusalem, bringing healing wherever it flows.

*Deut. 9:26-29. “Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD…I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the LORD, and said: ‘O Lord YHVH, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because YHVH was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.’

*Deut 10:12-13. Fear, Walk, Love, Serve, Guard! “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to guard the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

*Deut. 10:16-17, 21a. “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome…He is your praise…”

*Deut. 11:11-12. “But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”

HAFTARAH

“Comfort ye…”

AS MENTIONED LAST WEEK, we have entered a seven-week season (Until the Feast of Trumpets) in which the Haftarah readings are taken from the prophet Isaiah, and continue to speak words of comfort to Zion. The passages below are only some drawn from this week’s portion which may be used powerfully in praying for Israel to recognize her Comforter—and for the Body of Messiah to walk, as He walked, before her fellows in the land.

*Isaiah 49:15-16. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

*Isaiah 49:25b-26. “For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children. I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

*Isaiah 50:4. “The Lord YHVH has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”

*Isaiah 50:6-7. “I gave my back to those who strike me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord YHVH helps me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.”

*Isaiah 51:1-2. ”Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him” (NASB).

*Isaiah 51:3. “For YHVH will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places. He will make her desert like Eden, and her arava like the garden of YHVH; Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody!”

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week (August 28—September 3, 2016) are called R’eh—“See!”   

TORAH: Deuteronomy 11:26—16:17

HAFTARAH: Isaiah 54:11—55:5.

Because Rosh Chodesh for the Sixth Month Elul—falls on Saturday or Sunday September 3/4, some synagogues will end their services with Isaiah 66:1, 23 and/or I Samuel 20:18, 42

In A Nutshell

The portion also describes the virtues of the land of Israel, the seven species. Finally, the people are commanded to teach these things to their children and to carve the Mezuzah[1] on their doorsteps.

Commentary

Moses warns the people to keep the laws of Nature because the Creator is Elokim (God), and in Gematria (numeric values ascribed to Hebrew letters) it is “The Nature.”

The Creator gave us the Torah (Pentateuch), the laws of the world. The Torah is like a physics book, except that the laws in it are absolute, and totally precise. Only Israel received them. If we act according to these laws we will be above everything. We received a promise in advance, and this is truly what is happening. If we keep the laws before us we will receive anything we want—happiness, respect, security, health, eternity, wholeness, this world and the next world.

These laws come down to one: “love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.” All we need is to keep that law—love of others. The whole Torah speaks of nothing but that.

The problems begin with keeping that law. We cannot do it alone. It is only possible in an environment that sustains us, along with all the members of that environment. Only through mutual support can we truly keep that law. Baal HaSulam (Rav Yehuda Ashlag) mentioned in that regard a story about two friends sailing in a boat. When one of them began to drill under him, his friend asked, “What are you doing?” the other replied, “It is none of your concern, I am drilling only under me.”

We are living in special times these days. We all feel that we are in a single boat, and this is the proper condition to finally begin to keep the general law of love of others, the common law of Nature, the mutuality. The global and integral crisis has placed us against our will in a single boat where everyone is drilling under him without regard for anyone else.

Now we must all begin to reorganize and connect with one another in mutual guarantee. Everyone must guarantee that everyone else will not break the law, and everyone will care for everyone else in the same manner. A person musters the courage and power to not harm others, to not drill a hole. If we approach the general law of Nature in this manner we will truly feel that we are lacking nothing because there is nothing better than when we are in congruence with Nature.
It is like the spies: a person begins to see the fruits of the land of Israel, the sun, and the light, as it is written that the Creator is present from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, meaning happiness, health, and safety. No one will be able to approach our borders and say that it is not ours, because we will be in congruence with the laws dictated from above. These are the same laws that are actually only one: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is the same mutual guarantee that helps us care for one another.

Therefore, if we keep this law, which is the essence of the Torah, we will have abundance. If we do not, we will find out increasingly clear, as is happening now, that we are dependent upon everyone. We have no idea what is happening with our country’s defense, and even when we do understand and know in advance what might happen, things still happen. If we refrain from keeping the clear condition, we arrive at where we are, and who knows where we might end up.

We are dependent on the World Bank, and the Common Market. In fact, the whole world is interdependent without understanding why it is so. We were given excellent starting conditions, a book that explains the laws of the world, and the wisdom of Kabbalah, which explains how to rise above these laws, and which shows us that we can rise above Nature. If the Creator promises us security, happiness, and health, it is all we need. These three parameters are all that demonstrators throughout the world are asking. They, too, need nothing more than safety, happiness, and health.

Security is a fundamental element that defines our attitude toward life. Happiness defines our independence with regard to the rest of the world, without anyone being able to bring us down or up. The same goes for health; it all depends on us. All we need to do is keep within our nation the condition, “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is easy to keep that condition in mutual guarantee. If we understand it and support each other, in a short period of time we will rise to such a level that no one will be able to harm us, not on the economic level, not on the level of health, and not on the level of defense.

It is time that through explanations we will achieve the feeling of mutual guarantee and mutual love in the nation, and everything that is written in the portion will come true.

If we are in a state of mutual guarantee, will we not have to be considerate of the entire world? Will we be happy even if other things are happening elsewhere or will we suddenly understand how dependent we are on everything that happens in the world?

It is not written anywhere in Kabbalah that we must take into consideration what is happening in the world. The world is governed from above. All the leaders, whoever they are, are managed from above. Our world is a world of results, the lowest world.
The common force, the light, comes from Ein Sof (infinity) through all the worlds, which are concealments of the light, and through them it influences our world, us, and all the nations of the world. We can only react to it and adjust ourselves to the upper world through our actions.

The bonding between us indicates that we are in congruence with the upper world, which is entirely as one. Our soul above is called Adam, and it is one, just as the upper force is one. Adam’s soul divided into many souls, but if we collect them all together, all our desires, our inclinations, we will adjust ourselves to the upper force, the common force of Nature. Elokim (God) in Gematria is “The Nature.”

Will the world not influence us then?

Not only will the world not influence us, but by elevating our desires, we become the ones who influence the upper world, and the upper world will, in turn, influence our world and all the nations of the world. Prophet Isaiah wrote that the nations of the world will take the children of Israel on their shoulders and bring them to Jerusalem to build the Temple. It is an allegorical way of saying that the whole world will understand that there is only one place for the land of Israel.

Will all the people have to achieve that mutual guarantee, understanding, and Dvekut (adhesion)?

Yes, mutual guarantee and mutual love. We have to keep the law, “love your neighbor as yourself.” However, we need not think about when it will happen because as soon as we keep this law and move toward it, even by a fraction of an inch, we will no longer be opposite from Nature but in congruence with it. The tendency, the intention is in the making, just like a disobedient and troublesome child was suddenly begins to behave well. We immediately begin to treat him differently. As we do these things we will immediately see that we are on the right track because all of a sudden we will feel empowered, that our actions are blessed.

We hear that everyone wants love. When we begin to talk about mutual guarantee and mutual connection, people feel satisfaction, a sensation of love. No budget can cover all the problems and troubles that exist in the nation. No one will agree to be the last to receive a piece of the pie; each one will pull in one’s own direction and there will never be an end to it.

We must sit at a round table like a family, and first and foremost, treat each other with love, and bring everyone under the umbrella of mutual guarantee, where we are all one. We must make our decisions like a family: one needs housing, another needs some money, another’s health is poor, and another one is old, and so on. As in a family, after the conversation at the round table everyone will understand what we need to do in order to change the situation. Everyone will also feel satisfaction in being the one who made concessions, who was big-hearted.

We are assuming that in a family, people care about each other.

This is the point that we are missing. Without it we will never reach a solution. We will have more and more committees but nothing will help. People will not even go to those committees, and if they do, it will be only to show that they are useless. Our world is global, round, and if we cannot find a solution or a process that agrees with the laws of the world we will lose. And it will be a big loss because the next eruption could be much worse. We need to think about it in advance so we will not say afterward, “We tried but it didn’t work out.” The damage that will be done to the people will be very big and will invoke such bitterness and pain that we cannot tell where it will lead.

What does it mean that today the world is global? How did it suddenly become global?

There is nothing new about the laws of the world; only we have changed through history. It is written in the wisdom of Kabbalah that from the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first—as Baal HaSulam, the Vilna Gaon, and others said—our world will move into a state of being global.

“Being global” means that the primary law appearing in the world is the law of the circle: we are all connected and dependent on each other. And if we are dependent and connected, it is impossible to start fighting. We must come to some settlement, something sensitive, considerate, in mutual guarantee. We are quickly approaching that state around the world.

We will soon find that not only do we feel the need for a solution, but that there is no other solution other than mutuality. Once we arrive at a solution after having sat with everyone, we will feel satisfied. We will be respected for having made concessions for others, and we will feel warmth because we were considerate of others. We will feel safer because we will not be alone anymore; we will be together with everyone.

In this way we discover the power that exists in unity, which acts in accord with the upper force. Everyone must feel that power, the entire nation. In the wisdom of Kabbalah the force appears immediately to those who become connected to society. Now the world is about to discover it. The unrest throughout the world are only the beginning of this surfacing because what people really need, even when they cannot express it, is love.

It is written that we should teach our children and write on the Mezuzah.[2] Does this concern internal states?

The sons are us. In previous portions the sons were our own future states. The current state is called a “father,” and the next state is considered its “son,” its result.

Is it not clear that we are moving from state to state? Is there something we must do in order to move to it?

Of course. We must constantly move toward it when ascending to the level of keeping that law, as well as in the new conditions in which we nevertheless maintain the law of unity, the law of love.

Does that mean that a greater measure of connection between us is our sons?

Yes. In fact, the whole portion is a result of Shema Ysrael (Hear, O Israel), from the previous portion, which is why it is written so. It is also written on the Mezuzahs. A person going out of one’s state or returning to one’s state refers to the exit and the entrance to the house.

The house is the person’s Kli (vessel), a person’s heart—all of one’s desires. When we connect the new desires and correct them, when we enter and exit, the light is always with us. This is the correction called Mezuzah. It is a special light with which a person must be equipped in order to embark on new corrections.

In total, our soul consists of 613 desires. We need to correct those desires one at a time, from light to heavy, so they have the aim to bestow upon others, and through others to the Creator.

A state of Arvut (mutual guarantee) is when we all care for one another. Today when people are feeling bad they will agree to unite. But what will keep them together a day after the trouble is over?

Mutual guarantee. This is why it is not enough to decide to love each other now. The question is “How can we keep the love over time?” The answer is that only through mutual guarantee is it possible to connect us in such a way that if one falls, everyone falls, and everyone sustains everyone else.

If I had nothing before and suddenly have something thanks to mutual guarantee, of course I will be happy about it. What about those who had plenty and gave it up?

This is why when we speak of implementing mutual guarantee, we are speaking of a round table around which we will all sit together, even a hundred people. Each of us will raise his or her concerns, and request what he or she needs. But first we must unite among us. Only through our unity, in mutual guarantee, as one nation in a small country, will we resolve our problems. There is no other way to work them out because we have nowhere from which to take the money, and no way to divide the pie in a way that increases our deficit. We will be only hurting ourselves this way, and it is clear that nothing will come out of it.

We have only one alternative: A deliberation that leads to bonding and love. If we begin to organize the entire nation around the table, and begin to act through the media, in reality shows, on TV, on the internet, in theatres, in music, and in cooperation with different artists, we will educate the people toward the concept of “mutual guarantee,” and then we will see how everyone is connected. It will not be long before we see different people.

We will feel it when we drive our cars, and we will feel it in children being less violent toward each other. We will feel it everywhere. We will begin to influence the entire world with this force because it is specifically we who are giving to the entire world, though it may not seem that way right now. As soon as we have the good force, it will spread to the entire world.

We cannot bring security to the country unless we muster the power of Arvut. Today it is impossible to govern in the traditional way, however we may try.

There is only one thing we need to add to the efforts to keep us safe: we must implement the law, “love your neighbor as yourself,” as it is promised here. This is called “Torah” (law) and not other symbols, as others think about the Torah, and the meaning of the Mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah.

The Torah means “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” because “the light in it reforms them.” We need to come to a state of love. If we come to it there will be happiness, health, and security.

When Abraham established the nation he explained to everyone who came to his tent in Babylon about the meaning of Arvut, about the quality of Hesed (mercy), which is Abraham’s quality, and that this is how we should relate to one another. This is how he established the nation, and this is how thousands of people followed him. It all depends on whether or not we can connect today. It is not merely a promise; we have no other choice; it is the only possible solution, and we must listen before the troubles come.

[1] Mezuzah (doorpost): Texts from Deuteronomy inscribed on parchment and rolled up in a case that is attached to the doorframe

[2] “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy, 6:7-9).