Parshas Eikev #1
Big and Small
“If (eikev) you will listen to these laws and keep and do them, Hashem your G-d will keep the covenant and the kindness which He swore to your fathers” (Devarim 7:12).
Moshe Rabbeinu told the Jewish people that if only they would obey Hashem’s commandments, He would keep His covenant with the Avos, and they would be abundantly blessed. This did not mean keeping only the “big” mitzvos, like Shabbos and kashrus. The Torah’s use of the unusual term eikev (literally ‘heel’), rather than a more common word like im, teaches a profound lesson. Rashi comments, “If you will obey the ‘minor’ mitzvos that a person tramples with his eikev.” We earn Hashem’s blessings specifically by being careful with the small things that we might otherwise brush aside asinsignificant.
No mitzvah is “too small” to be important, as we learn from two mishnayos in Pirkei Avos:
· “Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one, for you do not know the reward for mitzvos” (Avos 2:1). The Torah does not include a pay scale for different mitzvos. This is because if we knew which are more worthwhile, so to speak, we would concentrate our efforts on the “big” mitzvos, and neglect the “small” ones – and Hashem wants us to fulfill all six hundred and thirteen.
· “Run to a minor mitzvah as to a major one… for one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah” (ibid. 4:2). Every mitzvah brings us closer to Hashem, and accustoms us to serving Him. If we do a smaller, easier mitzvah, it will be easier for us to go on to progressively bigger mitzvos, even if they are more difficult.
Unfortunately, honesty is a mitzvah which many struggle with, whether large-scale or small. It begins even in “minor” areas, which most people would “trample with their heel:”
Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner of London related the following story about his father, Rav Yosef Tzvi Dunner, Rosh Beis Din of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (Kedassia). Rav Dunner would never drink a cup of coffee at the offices of the Beis Din. He maintained that the coffee had been purchased for the secretaries who worked there all day long – not for him, who was not there all day.
On one occasion, a secretary told him that she had bought coffee and sugar specifically for the rav, from her own funds. Rav Dunner still would not drink the coffee, because the electricity to boil the kettle was paid for by the Beis Din office!
(Adapted from “Making It Work: A Practical Guide to Halachah in the Workplace”)
Question for Discussion:
As Jews, we do need to “sweat the small stuff.” What is something which people ignore as unimportant, but really does deserve more of our attention?Click Here To Respond
My eight-year-old son and I were in LAX airport in Los Angeles, on our way back to Israel. We were asked all the standard El Al security questions, including whether we had been given any gifts to take back. I referred the security staffer to my son on this one. He informed her that his friends had given him a book.
“Anything else?” she asked him in Hebrew.
He responded in Hebrew, “Ken, gam roveh!” (“Yes, also a gun!”)
“Mah?” (“What?”) she said, suddenly alert.
“Roveh,” he repeated.
“Roveh? Who gave it to you?”
Clearly, it was time for me to reenter the conversation. I told her that the “roveh” was a Nerf gun. My son had worked hard over the summer on a challenging goal, and he had earned it as a well-deserved prize. She had never heard of a “Nerf gun,” and I explained that it was a toy that shot foam balls, not bullets. She wanted to see it for herself, but when I told her that I had no idea of where it was packed in our four big suitcases, she let it go.
Despite the uncomfortable moment, I had to admire my son’s honesty, even in a routine airport security check.