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Parshat Ekev- Check It!

08/15/2022 03:47:44 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin

Parshat Ekev can be called "the Parsha of the Little Things".  The so-called minor Mitzvas that we tend to overlook or even ignore.  This D'var is dedicated to them... l'chaim to the small things- by which we live. 

I see it all the time.  People react to the advent of Rosh HaShana and the High Holidays (just seven weeks away!) with a look like they've just been gobsmacked by a gefilte fish- the kind with jelly!  But why?  The HiHo's (High Holidays as Cantor Avima calls them) are awesome!

I guess the imagery of Rosh HaShana as the day we stand in judgment and our fates are sealed for the year ahead IS a bit scary.  But that should be more than compensated for by how we are charged to sense G-d's Presence as a loving, supportive and gentle parent more during this time of year than any other.  

How are we supposed to do that?  I mean, beyond prayer, Torah and Mitzvot which are part of daily life.  If only, if only there were a way to help foster a sense of G-d's love and regard...

So Judaism, in its always practical and down to earth way suggests that in the month ahead we... wait for it... 

Check the Mezuzahs.  That's right.  Those little holders containing micro-graphic Hebrew about experiencing love, connection and strength.  Take them down, one by one, and take a look at the klaf (parchment).  If the letters are worn or flake off or if the parchment is discolored so the letters can't be read, it's time to get on amazon or wherever you shop and replace them. 

You see, Mezuzahs are meant to focus us on G-d's Presence when we go out into the world to labor and learn and connect.  And even more, Mezuzah's are meant to help us achieve a sense of reverance and gratitude when we come home again and greet our beautiful, precious families.  And both actions: going out and coming in, are ways that connect us to the big picture, to life and love and moving forward.

The Mezuzah should be on every room shining this sense of spiritual protection on all within and shielding them when they go out.  

The Talmud explains with a Midrash:

When Onkelos, the nephew of the nasty and murderous Roman Emperor, had the gaul to convert to Judaism, Nero sent his legionairres to bring him in.  But time after time, Onkelos would convince the soldiers to not only leave him be but to actually join him and convert!  Sending troops from Britain who didn't understand Latin didn't help because Onkelos was a brilliant linguist and could even use signs and gestures to demonstrate the Oneness of G-d and the holiness of Torah. Finally, the irate emperor ordered the guards under pain of death to arrest his nephew and to not exchange a single word or even to look him in the eye. 

So what did Onkelos do?  As the guards led him from his home, he reached up and, like a Jew do, kissed the Mezuzah.  The lead guard tried to quell his sense of curiosity but finally, as they approached the legion headquarters, asked Onkelos the meaning of his gesture.

"Why," said Onkelos, "I kiss the Mezuzah because it is a sign of G-d's protecting me."

The legionairre said, "Wait, your G-d protects you?"

"Yes,: answered Onkelos.  "Why, doesn't Caeser who you believe is divine protect you?"

"No," said the soldier.  "Ceaser doesn't protect us at all.  In fact, we all have to give our lives to protect Caeser." 

"Huh," says Onkelos.  "A G-d who needs protecting rather than protecting you."  And that was it.  The legionairres all tore the imperial insignia from their shoulders and became righteous converts.  

So as we go into the month of Elul, take a look at those Mezuzot and take a look at how we look at cherish and care for our homes and those within who give us their love, trust, time and share life... 

Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784