Saturday 24th August 2019 23rd Av 5779
Parashat Ekev by David Friedman, UMJC rabbi, Jerusalem
Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25; Isaiah 49:14-51:3; Matt 16:13 - 20
So now Israel, what does Adonai your God ask from you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in His ways and to love Him, as well as to serve Adonai your God with all your mind and all your life; to watch over Adonai’s instructions and statutes that I am instructing you today, for your own good. (Deut 10:12–13, my translation)
These two verses are the center piece and crown of Parashat Ekev.
They are the summary statement of what God required (and requires) of Israel. Moshe is summarizing the lessons of 40 years in the Sinai desert, and this is his tamsit, Hebrew for what we call the “bottom line” lesson, of the experiences that the nation had just been through.
Why does Moshe give such a bottom-line conclusion here, in Deuteronomy 10? As Moshe summarizes the important lessons for the tribes to remember, his time to die is rapidly approaching. A new leader will take his place, and the people will reach their destiny, entrance into the Land of Promise. So Moshe is being strategic in his leadership: it was the moment to make things clear and definite! It was the time to spell things out so there could be no question as to what was needed to survive, prosper, and fulfill God’s calling. These were crucial days in which to review how to live in the Land in order to receive God’s blessings. The stakes were high!
What would be the consequences if the tribes followed and obeyed God?