Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Eikev

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"And now, Israel, what does HaShem your G-d ask from you, but that you fear HaShem your G-d...?" [10:12]

The Ba'al Shem Tov, the father of modern Chassidus, offers a very interesting - and very Chassidic - twist on this verse.

When a father instructs his son not to run around barefoot, he does so to prevent injury - he doesn't want his child stepping on anything harmful. The reason the son obeys, however, depends on his age and development. A young child, who doesn't yet understand that the world can be a dangerous place, will wear shoes only in order to avoid punishment. He has no idea that going barefoot is _inherently_ risky and therefore foolish - his father makes it so by threatening dire consequences.

An older child already understands that various things which appear safe and harmless might be very threatening in actuality. Furthermore, he recognizes that his father knows the dangers better than he. Thus when a father tells a more mature child to wear shoes, the latter obeys not in order to avoid punishment, but due to his appreciation of his father's advice. There is no difference between the fear of the father and that of the son - both are worried that the son may injure his feet.

G-d gave us 613 Commandments, explains the Ba'al Shem Tov, in order to protect us from over-involvement in material things, from haughtiness, from those things which would cause us to distance ourselves from Him. The Mitzvos form a system designed to straighten us and purify us of worldly influences, enabling us to become G-dly.

HaShem does not want us to observe the Commandments because we are afraid of Divine Retribution (fear of punishment). That is the attitude of a small child. Rather, says the Ba'al Shem Tov, G-d wants us to share His concern for our own spiritual growth and protection (fear of transgression). That is an "adult" attitude towards the Commandments.

Thus the twist on the verse, which in Hebrew reads "Ki im l'yirah es HaShem Elokecha" - "but that you fear HaShem your G-d." "Es" is an indefinite article with no English translation, but it can sometimes mean "with," as in "but that you fear with, or like, HaShem your G-d." His fear - His concern for our spiritual development - should be our fear as well.

Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.

 

ARTICLES ON NASO:

View Complete List

Behavioral Levis
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Why Are Children Called "Redeemers"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Ups and Downs
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Just to Silence the Mind
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

A New Found Freedom
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Respectful Repeats
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

> Not The Same
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

Out Of Control
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

The Dilemma of Nisanel ben Tzuar
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

ArtScroll

Ode to Joy
Shlomo Katz - 5775

Harmonizing Without Homogenizing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

An Uplifting Experience
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Who Loves You!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Naturally Divine
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Hair-Raising Episode
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Faith In Motion
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information