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Through The Eyes of a Woman

Eikev: The Reward for Keeping Mitzvos

This week's parshah, Eikev, discusses, among many other things, the concept of the reward promised to a person if he is careful with the observance of all mitzvos, even those that people tend to trample on. According to Targum Onkelos -- the Aramaic translation of the Torah -- the word eikev, the name of the parshah, means "reward." Thus the first word of this section should be understood as follows: "This shall be the reward when you obey these ordinances, and you observe and perform them..."

However, the Midrash and Rashi point out that the word eikev also means "heel." There are certain mitzvos that people tend to observe scrupulously, and other mitzvos that people are not so careful about. In Rashi's words, "These are the mitzvos which people tend to trample underfoot (with the heel)." They are mitzvos about which people tend to say, "Ah, that is just a minor one, a little pettiness; it's not such an important mitzvah. That is not the one we really have to observe carefully. We'll put our efforts into Shabbos -- that is an important mitzvah. But tzniyus, modesty? It's not so important; it's not a major mitzvah." The same logic is applied to whatever mitzvos such people decide are major or minor.

The Rebbe explains that therefore, according to the verse, reward is given to a person precisely when he doesn't judge which are the major mitzvos and which are the minor mitzvos, and he observes all of them equally, even those mitzvos which other people tend to trample with their heels, because they are all equally HaShem's will. The Jew who is on the right wavelength says, "Who are we to give points to mitzvos and decide which ones are major and which are minor? If it is HaShem's will, what's the difference if one appears to be more important than the other?" The Rebbe points out on many occasions that there are two aspects to every mitzvah. One, the individual intention and meditation specific to that particular mitzvah, such as the concept of a person binding his heart, mind and strength to HaShem's will through the mitzvah of tefillin. Secondly, there is the feature common to all mitzvos -- that they are all (even the most "minor") equally the will of HaShem. That is why our Sages tell us that we should not weigh which mitzvos seem more important, and which less -- because they are all equally the will of HaShem.

The Rebbe explains further, in the name of the Rogatchover Gaon, that this is the meaning of the statement of our Sages, "One who is occupied with a mitzvah is exempt from performing any other mitzvah," -- since he is occupied with fulfilling HaShem's will in the first mitzvah, he need not stop to fulfill another one.

Thus, the Torah promises that those people who do not differentiate between the major and minor mitzvos will merit great reward from HaShem, the ultimate reward -- that he will give us Himself, so to speak, when He "moves in" to the dwelling we have made him here below in this world through fulfilling all of His mitzvos.

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