Torah: Eikev

Eikev: I feel sad for Ryan Lochte. He achieved so much as an Olympic swimmer. One lie and he lost his endorsements; one act of misbehavior and the rewards of years of focused effort were forfeited. Our parashah this week, Eikev, begins with the word “if”, which is repeated including the paragraph that will find a place in the Shema: If you follow my commandments then God will bring rain in the seasons; if you fail to obey, then God will stop up the skies [Deuteronomy 11:13-17] . I do not read the promise and threat literally. Rather the message is that there are consequences for our actions. I recall a Jackie Mason routine where a man accused of a crime pleaded, “But 99.9% of the time, I behave just fine.” Yes, in one thoughtless moment, a moment of inebriation or failure of character, much damage can be done. In our tradition, there is the opportunity for teshuvah, repentance. Although there is a price to be paid for bad behavior, there is also the possibility of change and renewal.

Last week’s Ve’etchanah D’var Torah:– What does the Shema convey is expected of us as Jews?