Drash on Parashat Ekev
Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NSW
Humanism and mysticism, seemingly distant from each other, converge in this week’s Torah reading. Moses states that the people are: “ To love God, to walk in God’s ways and to cleave to God” (Deut. 11:22). The sages of the Talmud explain this as meaning a person should strive towards embodying God’s qualities and in that way “walk in God’s ways” - Just as God is compassionate, each person should cultivate compassion and so forth for other divine qualities such as courage, gratitude, discipline and loving-kindness.
The Hasidic leader, the Maggid of Mezerich, taught that the Hebrew word for ‘compassion’ RaCHeM and the word for ‘matter’ ChoMeR are anagrams of each other, and thus they are connected. Divine compassion flows into the material world only when we each act with compassion towards each other. Those acts of kindness create a pump-like effect that draws spiritual light into matter and invites Godliness into the world.
“What does God ask of you? Only to be in awe of God, to follow God’s ways to love and serve God with all your heart and soul…” (Deut. 10:12) Noam Elimelech explains that the question – “What does God ask of you?” can also be understood as “What does God borrow from you?”, as the words ‘ask’ and ‘borrow’ are similar in Hebrew.
When we cultivate awe and love, we make ourselves a vessel in which God’s presence can be housed. In this way God “borrows” our body and soul, and fills it with light.
God is described as a river which needs to flow and it is only when people make their lives and their consciousness compatible with holiness, that the river can flow.
God needs us!
In this way, Arthur Green explains, humans stand at the centre of this Torah portion.