Parshas Eikev
Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25


By Dr.Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Michael and and Mrs. Channah Sakash may they rest in peace.

Last year in Parshas Eikev we told the story of Saul and Rivkah and their problems. They, G-d willing, are on the Path to Recovery...

Overcoming difficulty is NOT EASY. Throughout the forty years in the wilderness B'nei Yisroel had much to overcome. One large hole in B'nei Yisroel was their desire to return to Mitzriam. When problems arose sometimes there was this very strong urge to return to the pits of slavery. How could a freed people who experienced the awesome power of G-d in their deliverance ever think of returning to slave pits in Mitzriam? What attraction could Mitzriam hold?

Yet numerous times B'nei Yisroel considered returning to Mitzriam.


Sometimes the struggle to go forward seems much more difficult than retreating to an area once considered very undesirable. Codependence is like this... One may remain in a relationship that is totally uncomfortable because they are dependent upon the very person that they dislike. Fear and uncertainty of what will become of them make it nearly impossible to separate from a horrible relationship or situation.

Codependence can exist between a husband and a wife or between an employee and an employer. In this situation I am specifically referring to the codependence of men who are called by the title rabbi or rebbe, men who are codependent upon the instutition they are employed by. Men that have compromised the integrity of their position, their righteousness, the good of the community that they work and live in and the good of the world wide Jewish community. While on the one hand we can understand that if these men challenge the religious Zimri's, the princes, of their instutions or communities that they rightfully fear retaliation, tarnishing of their name {loshon horah} and loss of position with no hope of being hired elsewhere. Yet allowing wrongful deeds by powerful men to continue is even worse!!

Addiction to a substance is also an incredible battle. One knows what the substance is doing to them yet quitting seems more difficult than climbing a great mountain or swimming across the ocean. Progress can be slow. Achievement may be two steps forward and one step backward.

However I am NOT referring to the addiction of nicotine, alcohol or drugs. I am referring to the addiction of power... power that is not contained... power that is not supervised... power that can destroy other Jews... power that communities fear... power of intimidation... power of humiliation... power of controlling the lives of others... evil power... This is the type of power that some rabbium and other people of leadership have and use!

What can one do? Where does one turn?

The surroundings that one lives in can have much to do with how well one succeeds or fails. One's spouse, family, friends and community can be a tremendous support system. THEN ON THE OTHER HAND IT CAN BE THE VERY ADDICTION THAT ONE NEEDS TO BE FREE FROM!

To one Jew a community is a support system of other Jews reaching out, caring, uplifting, sharing and assisting. Yet to another Jew living in the exact same community it could be a fierce battle of community power, of rabbinical control, of interference and / or intolerance...

It is clear that the same community does not work for everyone.

How would you like to live among a community of grumbling Jews that want to return to the slave pits of Mitzriam? If you were among the grumbling Jews how would you react to the Jew that did not want to return to Mitzriam? How would you react to the Jew that wanted to continue in the BaMidbar experience?

Well, holy reader, our parsha this week is discussing some of the many possible attitudes of the Jewish Community.. "Perhaps you will say in your heart, 'These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out.?'"

One Jew faces an addiction and says, "How can I overcome this?' while another Jew faces the same type of addiction and does overcome it. What is the difference?

Moshe was attempting to prepare three million Jews to enter Eretz Canaan. They were a group of people that had lived in this tightknit nomad community for forty years. They were descendants of another group of Jews that had lived in a community of slavery in Mitzriam for over 100 years. That group which lived in slavery were descendants of another group of Jews that enjoyed the prosperity and bounty of Mitzriam for about a hundred years. So within a few hundred years we have emotions all over the scale.

Now we are about to enter Eretz Canaan as three million Jews that will each receive a heritage of land. We will own our own land. We will be dispersed over many square miles. We will NOT be living in the close proximity to each other as in the BaMidbar. We will NOT BE LIVING IN THE CLOSE KNIT NOMAD COMMUNITY! Eretz Canaan will be different. Some will fear and bemoan,,, our codependence will be stretched to the limits.... 'What will we do?' Yet others will delight in the newfound freedom away from the detested shackles of community power and control.

B'nei Yisroel was experiencing many different complicated feelings prior to entering the Promised Land. As a result it was not going to be like purchasing a new house. It was not like painting, recarpeting, refinishing, etc. and moving in. Taking Eretz Canaan was going to be a struggle. Studying the Torah can be a struggle. Praying can be a struggle. Freeing oneself from codependency is a struggle. Stopping an addiction is a struggle. WHEN A COMMUNITY STANDS UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT IT CAN BE A VERY, VERY GREAT STRUGGLE...!

Moshe said, "Hashem, your G-d, will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you." Deuteronomy 7:22

Dear reader, Moshe was saying that entering and living in Eretz Canaan was going to be a struggle. It was not like crossing the Yarden today and setting up your house and community tomorrow. Many battles would have to be waged, fought and won to have the quality of life that Hashem intended for us.

We would have to face our not so wonderful past struggles, problems and addictions which is what we need to do individually and as a community today!

We were commanded to "burn the statues of their gods in fire..." Numbers 7:25. This would be a challenge because we had a history of an idolatrous past. There was Terach, Yishmael, Besueil, Lavan, Rachel, {Uncle} Eisov, living in Mitzriam and the molten calf incident.

We were instructed, " not covet the silver and gold upon them {the idols} and take if for yourself, lest you be ensnared by it, because it is an abomination of Hashem, your G-d." Deuteronomy 7:25

This is a reminder. Remember the molten calf incident. We misappropriated the gold Hashem gave to us. This is looking forward to the future of difficulties like that of Achan.

'[T]hen Joshua said to Achan, 'My son, please give honor to Hashem, G-d of Israel, and confess to Him. Tell me, please, what you have done; do not withhold from me.'

Achan answered Joshua and said, 'Indeed, I have sinned against Hashem, G-d of Israel; thus and thus have I done. I saw among the spoils a lovely Babylonian garment and two hundred shekels of silver and one bar of gold - fifty shekels its weight. I desired them and took them....'" Joshua 7:19-21

So, holy reader, the Jews of thousands of years ago were much closer to Har Sinai than we are yet they had problems. They had addiction problems... Power problems... Codependence problems... COMMUNITY PROBLEMS!

This being the situation each member of the community had to accept upon themselves this strict form of discipline. Moshe and Aharon would not be there to sort things out for B'nei Yisroel! B'nei Yisroel would soon not have the one central figure in the person of Moshe who was humble, fair, just and righteous to hold the community together, to limit the Korach's, the Zimri's, the evil spies, the idolatries, etc...

Now thousands of years later we should have learned from our past mistakes. When a few of us in the community fail in our responsibility the entire communitiy suffers! This is why at Yom Kippur we confess sins that as an individual we did not commit. Each of us are praying in behalf of the community as a whole. Each of us as a member of the community are responsible to Hashem as part of the Whole.

So the point is when the community refuses to deal with individual failures within the community they become community failures that everyone suffers for. When the community chooses to look the other way, when the community chooses to avoid dealing with individual failures, the failures become community failures that everyone suffers for. Again we remember when the community as a whole looked the other way in the sinful incident of Zimri, son of Salu, leader of the Shimonite patriarchal tribe in Numbers 25, everyone suffered.

In this week's parsha Moshe said to B'nei Yisroel, "Do not think, when Hashem, your G-d, smashes them before you, saying: 'Because of my righteousness has Hashem brought me to inherit this land,' and because of the wickedness of these nations is Hashem expelling them before you. Not because of your righteousness and the uprightness of your heart are you coming to inherit their land. Rather, because of these nations is Hashem,your G-d, expelling them before you, and in order to fulfill the matter that Hashem swore to your forefathers - to Avraham, to Yitzchok and to Yaakov. Know that not because of your righteousness is Hashem, your G-d, giving you this good land to inherit, for you are a stubborn people. Recall, do not forget, how you angered Hashem, your G-d, in the wilderness; from the day you left the land of Mitzriam until you arrived at this place you have been defiers with Hashem. And in Choreiv you angered Hashem, and Hashem was infuriated with you to destroy you." Deuteronomy 9: 4-8 Moshe also said, "Defiers have you been with Hashem from the day I know you." Deuteronomy 9:24

Moshe was talking to the Jews that received the Torah at Har Sinai. He was talking to Jews that were generations closer to righteousness than most of us are. Yet for some reason so many of us ESPECIALLY IN THE ORTHODOX COMMUNITIES thousands of years removed think we are so damn righteous! Where did we get this idea? We have NO right to think we are so righteous. Many Jews outside of the 'SO CALLED FRUM COMMUNITIES" are so very offended by our SINFUL, PUFFY ATTITUDES!! They see through us like a glass!!

Moshe clearly stated that it was NOT BECAUSE OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS! Today is no different that thousands of years ago. We need strictness in dealing with ourselves and humility in reaching out to others... We need to divest ourselves of SHOWTIME ATTITUDES and SHOWTIME SHABBOSIM and SHOWTIME APPARREL.. If Moshe could say "from the day you left the land of Mitzriam until you arrived at this place you have been defiers with Hashem" then what are we? Who are we fooling.

Dear reader, now is the time for each of us to begin our return to Hashem... not six weeks away at Yom Kippur. Now is the time for us to nudge members of our community to return. Now is the time for us to require honesty, integrity, righteousness and morality of ALL Jewish leadership!

Fortunately, there are many very good Jews who do not fit the above categories. An article like this is painful, yet we must speak of these issues.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva  G. Belk

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