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Dvar Torah Ekev 5765

Dvar Torah Ekev 5765

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Published by Maurice Harris

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Published by: Maurice Harris on Apr 14, 2011
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D’var Torah – Parashat Ekev 5765Rabbi Maurice Harris
1. Summary of parashaha. Moses continues his final speeches to the Israelites shortlybefore they prepare to enter the Promised Land without him.b. He reminds the people that God has placed their future in their own hands – if they follow God’s ways they will experiencegreat blessings. Not following God’s commandments will leadto disaster.c. Moses gives a brief recap of the peoples’ 40 years of wanderingin the wilderness. Reminding the people of the miracles thatGod created for them during their years of wandering, Mosestells the Israelites that as they enter a bountiful land they mustremember to give thanks continually to God.i. “When you have eaten you fill, and have built finehouses to live in, and your herds and flocks havemultiplied, and your silver and gold have increased, andeverything you own has prospered, beware lest your heartgrow haughty and you forget the ETERNAL your God – who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage; who led you through the great and terriblewilderness with its winged serpents and scorpions, aparched land with no water in it, who brought forth water from the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness withmanna, which your ancestors had never known… THETEXT GOES ON TO SAY BEWARE LEST “…you sayto yourselves, ‘My own power and the might of my ownhand have won this wealth for me.’ Remember that it isthe ETERNAL your God who gives you the power to getwealth…”d. Moses goes on to remind the people of some of their acts of disloyalty and rebellion against God, like that little disaster withthe Golden Calf, during their wandering.e. Moses also includes in his speeches some essential guidelinesfor the people to remember:i. “And now, O Israel, what does the ETERNAL your Goddemand of you? Only this: to revere the ETERNALyour God, to walk only in God’s paths, to love God, and
to serve the ETERNAL your God with all your heart andsoul…”ii. “Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your heartsand stiffen your necks no more. For the ETERNAL your God is God of Gods and Master of all Masters, the great,the mighty, the awesome God, who shows no favor andtakes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the orphan andthe widow, and befriends the stranger, providing thestranger with food and clothing. You too must love thestranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
2. Focus on the expression Yad Chazakah
ךָלֶדְגָבּְ תָידִפּָ רשׁ ֶ אֲ ךָתְלָחֲנַוְ ךָמּְעַ תחֵשׁ ְ תּַ-לאַ הוִהֹיֱ ינָדֹאֲ רמַאֹוָ הוֹָהיְ-לאֶ ללּֵפּַתְאֶוָ הקָזָחֲ דיָבּְ םיִרַצְמּִמִ תָאצֵוֹה-רשׁ ֶ אֲ
“I prayed to the ETERNAL and said, “O Eternal God, do not annihilate Your very own people, whom You redeemed in Your majesty and whom You freed from Egypt with a mighty hand.”
Dt. 9:26c. Later in the parashah again we hear Moses retelling the story of the Exodus, and the phrase Yad Chazakah is mentioned.
3. Ways it is used in Tanakh
Exodus 6 – JPS translation understands Yad Chazakah as “agreater might.” – 
Then the ETERNAL said to Moses, ‘You shall soon see what I will do to Pharaoh: he shall let them gobecause of a greater might; indeed, because of a greater might he shall drive them from his land.”
b. וֹצרְאַמֵ םשׁ ֵ רֲגָיְ הקָזָחֲ דיָבְוּ םחֵלּְשׁ ַ יְ הקָזָחֲ דיָבְ יכּִ
Yad / hand expressions as metaphor – “yad” can denotestrength, and coupled with an adjective it can convey a messageabout the strength of the person whose hand is being mentionedrelative to some other person’s strength:
“natan yad tachat” / to give one’s hand under = to submitto someone or recognize their authority;ii. Israel left Egypt “b-yad ramah”, “with a raised up hand”= in defiance (JPS)4. QUESTION FOR EVERYONE: PICTURE IN YOUR MINDTHE EXODUS FROM EGYPT, AND ASK YOURSELF WHAT
5. Ways it is used in rabbinic literature
Passover Haggadah:
“And the Lord brought us forthout of Egypt with a mighty hand [B-YADCHAZAKAH], and with an outstretched arm, andwith great terribleness, and with signs, and withwonders.” (Deuteronomy 26:8)”And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt,” notby the hand of an angel, not by the hand of aseraph, not by the hand of a messenger, but theHoly One, Blessed be He, of his own self broughtus out, as is said: “For I will pass through the landof Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstbornin the land of Egypt, both man and beast; andagainst all the gods of Egypt I will executejudgment: I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)”For I will pass through the land of Egypt thisnight:” 
I, and not an angel.
“And will smite allthe firstborn in the land of Egypt:” 
I, and not aseraph.
“And against all the gods of Egypt I willexecute judgment:” 
I, and not a messenger
. “Iam the Lord:” 
I am that I am and no other.
As we hear the word hand repeated, my sense is that “YadChazakah” gets associated with a more specific meaning – perhaps = intimacy of God’s involvement. A parent come torescue their child.
Me – I will come and get you – I and not amessenger; I and not a friend – me, I will come for you, I will rescue you, I will not leave you there to suffer in that terribleplace. And if I have to tear up the joint to get you out I will. I,myself.
I think what the Haggadah’s voice gives us is a glimpseof a hand that has come to rescue its young. (Speak to how thisfits into your own sense of faith – of that direct link to G that isevery human being’s birthright.)
Another view: Maimonides (1135 – 1204)
on Biblical metaphorsabout God – God is so beyond any description that we can’t take

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