Secrets of Parashas Ekev with Rabbi Eliezer Berland shlit”a

Art by Yehoshua Wiseman

By Yosef HaTzaddik, there were seven years of abundance and afterwards came the seven years of famine, and the entire matter of Yosef HaTzaddik — that he knew how to interpret the dream right and gather the produce in the years of abundance for the years of famine — this is basically an example for everything that a person does every day in life.

Every young person who is found in periods of vitality and health, even if there is certainly for everyone a little bit of coping and problems, and for no one does it go smoothly, but altogether there are years of youth which are years full of hope and joy.  What Rabbi Nosson says to each Jew is – gather from the good that you have, from the good years that you have, when you’re lively and happy and have success, etc, etc.  Gather and preserve within your soul values, merits, those types of things which will give you strength for all your life later on, when you are put to the test, then suddenly you won’t be able to pray so much, you won’t be able to talk to Hashem so much.  Perhaps you won’t feel so well, because there are all types of things in life which a person goes through, and it’s impossible to know what we’ll go through.  But if you gathered in your good years and collected all types of wondrous things, whether this is learning, whether this is good deeds, whether this is joy, everything in order to fill the soul with being bound to Hashem.  If you build the connection with Hashem, it’s considered that you took advantage of your years of abundance in order to gather strengths for other years, when suddenly a person falls into sadness, suddenly he can’t concentrate in prayer, suddenly a person doesn’t have strength for such and such.

Therefore, during the times that you are capable, then don’t relent.  Don’t think, “Now I’ll make due.  I don’t exactly need now the Tehilim, because I, baruch Hashem – I don’t have anyone sick at home.  Baruch Hashem, I’m such and such.”  Don’t relent – gather, gather.  You don’t have time to pray, you don’t have time for good deeds, then you have thought.  Guard the thought, sanctify it.  Build yourself a nest within your heart, within your mind.  A nest for the Kadosh Baruch Hu, so that you will have a tabernacle for the Kadosh Baruch Hu.  And to this tabernacle, every time add more to it, adorn it more, build it more – more and more during the good years that you have.  If some time there should be some kind of problem, then you will have from where to take, from where to take strength, from where to take understanding, from where to take intellect, awareness — these kinds of things which are basically paths in your heart, paths to the source of life.

Parparos L’Torah 1

“This shall be the reward if you listen to these laws…” (Devarim 7:12)

The Sages of Israel ask: why is it written, “This shall be the reward [Vehaya Ekev] if you listen to these laws” and not in short, “If you listen to these laws” like it’s written in another place “If [Em] you walk in My statutes?”

The “Yismach Moshe” says about this that here are mitzvos which [one must] make pains to fulfill them – whether regarding money which one needs to spend on them (such as Tzitzis, Tefilin, Lulav and Etrog, Tzedaka, Pidyon Ben, etc), or whether regarding the time that one must spend (such as Succah, Matzah, raising children to Talmud Torah).  And this is what scripture says, “Vehaya Ekev” – and the Sages say “Vehaya” is none other than an expression of happiness, and “Ekev” is an expression of the end.  Scripture wants to allude to us that even though a person must make pains in fulfilling mitzvos in this world, in any case he will have happiness in the end, in the next world, as our Sages said (Avos 4:17), “One hour of pleasure in the next world is better than all of the life of this world.” (Benei Tzion)

Parparos L’Torah 2

“The entire commandment which I command you today, be careful to perform…” (Devarim 8:1)

In Midrash Tanchuma: Every mitzvah…is life to those who find them…If you began a mitzvah, finish, because the life-force of all is from the Torah and mitzvos.  According to the toil in Torah, so does one find mamash life in one’s soul and deeds which are bound to the Life of all life through this.  And this is what’s written, “Treasure My commandments with yourself” (Mishley 2:1).

Every mitzvah should leave by one a little devekus (clinging to Hashem) – to not perform them habitually.  Just be nullified and cling to the inner essence of the mitzvah.  And this is what’s written, “The entire commandment [mitzvah]” from the language of “mitzui – extraction,” as is written there in the name of the midrash.  And it’s written, “Listen to My commandments,” that the mitzvah itself makes a voice heard, as our Sages say, that every mitzvah says to the organ which is specific to it, and reminds the person of that mitzvah in order to perform it.  In any case, it’s heard by a person according to his will to hear and cling to its inner essence.

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