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The Little Things

Pacific Southwest Region USFWS

Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.
If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. — Deuteronomy 7:11–12

The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 49:14–51:3.

I once listened to a noted rabbi speak about marital relationships. The lecturer explained that he had met with hundreds of couples over the years and what he noticed about maintaining a good marriage was startling. It was never the big things that made or broke a marriage. It always came down to the little things.

Spouses said things like: “He is always late for our dinner dates when he knows I’m sitting there waiting for him”; or on a more positive note, “She makes me a sandwich every day because she knows I hate doing that, and she even takes off the crust because she knows I never eat it!” When it comes to loving relationships, it’s the small things that matter most and can have the greatest impact — positive or negative.

This week’s Torah potion is called Eikev, the first Hebrew word in the reading. Eikev has two meanings. First, it means “therefore,” as in “Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws . . .” Eikev also means “heel,” as in the heel of a foot. Based on this meaning, the Jewish sages see another layer of depth to the verse.

The next verse continues, “If you pay attention to these laws . . . then the LORD  your God will keep his covenant of love with you . . .” On the surface, these verses tell us that if we keep our part of the deal – if we follow God’s commandments – He will keep His share of the “covenant of love.” On a deeper level, the  sages explain that the verse is speaking specifically about doing things for God “that a person would normally tread on with his heel.” In other words, this verse is imploring us to be careful with the small things when it comes to serving God.

When we are careful about doing the little things for God, it is an expression of great love, just as when a spouse thinks of doing the small things that his or her partner likes. When we express our deep love for God that way, He responds in kind and reciprocates with a great and unending expression of love for us.

What does this mean for you? What are the little things that you could do to express your love for God? Maybe it’s spending extra time each day expressing gratitude for all He has given you, or it could be going out of your way to spend time with someone lonely. We are not required to do either of these things; rather we do them out of love.

When we dedicate our lives to doing the little things for God, watch how He takes care of the big things for us!

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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