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Parshas Eikev

The Heart of Hearts

By Rabbi Label Lam

"Take care lest you forget HASHEM, your G-d, by not observing His commandments, His ordinances, and His decrees, which I command you today., lest you eat and be satisfied, and you build houses and settle, and your cattle and sheep increase, and you increase silver and gold for yourselves, and everything you have will increase- and your heart will become haughty and you will forget HASHEM, your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery, Who leads you through the great and awesome Wildrerness- …And fed you manna in the Wilderness in order to test you, to do good for you in the end. And you may say in your heart, 'My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth!' Then you shall remember HASHEM, your G-d, that it was He Who gave you strength to make you wealth…." (Devarim 8:11-18)

"And now Israel, what does HASHEM your G-d request from you except that you fear HASHEM your G-d…" (Devarim 10:12)

Our sages taught that from here we learn, everything is from heaven except for the fear of Heaven. (Rashi)

What does it mean that, “Everything is from Heaven except for the fear of Heaven”? The Sefas Emes explains that this is unlike a flesh and blood king whose primary interest is to impose his fear upon the nation and collect taxes. By The Holy One Blessed Be He, everything is granted and all is within His ability to do but still he gives free will to man so that it becomes necessary for him to install within himself fear HASHEM.

On a tape of a lecture from Rabbi Berel Wein entitled, “Pete Rose and the Jewish Question” Rabbi Wein told of a conversation he had had with his father in-law Rabbi Levin, an old time European Jew who was a Rav in Detroit for many decades. He was in the hospital and Rabbi Wein called to ask how he was doing. Rabbi Levin began to describe all the wires attached to his body and how there was a monitor right next to his bed where his heart could be seen steadily beating.

When he pointed out to a young doctor his wonderment about the image on the monitor it prompted the young doctor to rant, “Oh that’s nothing Rabbi Levin in comparison to what’s coming next. Soon we won’t need any intrusive nodes and the pictures will be in color showing more details and contours…” “I interrupted him in the middle of his diatribe”, the Rabbi related with passion “And I told him”, “Fool-NAR I’m not talking about the machine! I’m talking about the heart! Look at the heart! It’s been beating for more than 90 years uninterrupted. Look at the heart!”

There’s that human weakness again, to be disproportionately impressed with our own accomplishments to the point where the abundant goodness of HASHEM is eclipsed. When my kid plugs in the vacuum cleaner and it suddenly roars, he gets excited because he thinks he invented the vacuum cleaner and discovered electricity. How juvenile! Our only job may be to be to live in awe of HASHEM.

From a single cell in 9 months a new born baby is comprised of 2 trillion cooperative cells and an adult 60 trillion. The genetic information in a single human DNA chain if stored electronically equals three trillion bytes. The double helix crams this all efficiently into 375 million computer bytes, more information the Encyclopedia Britanica. Every cell when replicating copies the entire DNA library. Initially there may be the equivalent of one mistake in every five pages but after instant proofreading and correcting the ratio changes to one mistake in every 50 million pages. Every second 8 million blood cells die and are replaced. I have a hard enough time balancing my check book and being on time for car pool.

When, with sober eyes we studiously observe the proportion of what’s being done for us on a constant basis, in comparison to our feeble foible-filled activities we may become overawed. It is this overpowering sense of the grand reality of realities and all that then flows forth from it which inspires the heart of hearts.

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and

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