Parshat Eikev: Mind and Heart United

28 07 2010

Based on a class by Rabbi Hershel Reichman

In Parshat Eikev, we read, “Vayaha eikav tishmaun..”- If you will listen to my laws, then I, Hashem will keep the promise I gave to the Avot to bring you blessing. The word “eikev” seems extraneous. The Shem Mishmuel brings a Midrash- one who assembles a light fixture on Shabbat is obligated to bring a Chatas sacrifice. Keeping Shabbat earns a Jew reward in this world. In contrast, the reward for other mitzvoth will be “eikev”-at the end of time. The Shem Mishmuel follows with another Midrash about a King who gave his Queen two beautiful stones and then straightaway two more.

What does the jeweled crown represent? Hashem gifted us with a heart and mind so that we could perfect our intellect and emotions to serve Hashem. Both are equally essential in developing an intellectual and emotional relationship with Hashem and the Torah. Avraham taught the Jewish people, tzedakah u’mishpat-mind and heart. Tzedakah means giving from the heart without judgement. Mishpat employs the mind and the strict letter of the law. In return, Hashem gave us, chesed v’rachamim. Chesed is kindness beyond what the recipient deserves. Rachamim is a fusion of chesed and din, kindness beyond what is necessary, but in a certain sense deserved. When we sinned and perverted tzedakah u’mishpat, Hashem responded by taking away chesed v’rachmim. However, l’assid lovo-in the future, the Jewsh people will repent and will restore tzedakah u’mishpat out of their own efforts. Hashem will then bring back chesed v’rachmim. Our spiritual struggles are continuous and our staunchest ally is Hashem who never leaves us even when we sin. So too, Hashem credits our repentance for His return to us. These are the four jewels that create the final crown of Israel.

The Shem MiShmuel explains, “Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah Ohr, the the lamp in the Midrash corresponds to Mitzvoth and the Torah is light. A lamp contains light and both are purposeless without the other. This symbolizes the indivisibility of Torah and Mitzvoth and the mind and heart. During the week, a Jew struggles to unite mind and heart to serve Hashem. On Shabbat, the lamp comes together on its own, we don’t build it. This signifies the sense of completion and cessation of struggle that is the gift of Shabbat. Varying people have different size lamps on Shabbat. Their size is determined by how much effort we invested during the week in the mind/heart struggle. We can experience pleasure and true eternal reward for keeping Shabbat because Shabbat is on a kind of Olam Habah plane. The reward for other mitzvoth can only be “eikev”-at the end of time because our weekday world is too defiled to be able to feel that otherworldly connection to Hashem. Therefore it says, “Vahaya eikev tishmaun..” There is one mitzvah that is olam habah and olam hazeh combined. Our struggle finds completion on Shabbat. Let us merit to attain complete unification of mind and heart so that we can merit to truly experience Shabbat, a foretaste of Yom Shekulo Shabbat-the great Shabbat of Olam Habah.




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