The second word of our Torah portion this week is somewhat perplexing. Our Torah reading begins by telling the Israelites to observe God's laws, but when it does so, it uncharacteristically uses the word "
Eikev is traditionally translated as to "heed" or "to follow" which makes sense in the context of our Torah portion, nevertheless, the use of this verb in this situation is rather atypical. Therefore, according to the commentators the use of the word
eikev in this situation, must be hinting at a deeper meaning and interpretation.
The biblical commentator Rashi points out that the word
eikev actually has two meanings. While it can mean to heed or follow, it also can refer to the heel of a foot. According to Rashi, it is used in this situation to remind us to pay attention to all of the
mitzvot, but especially the smaller, less obvious, and less significant ones, which we would normally step over with our heels without giving them a second thought.
Whether Rashi's interpretation is the most straightforward way to understand our verse or not, I think he is teaching us a very valuable lesson. When it comes to mitzvoth, doing good deeds, and observing Jewish traditions, we often times look forward to the larger opportunities for impact and pay attention to the more popular and well known customs and celebrations. But Judaism is a rich tradition that is filled with so many different opportunities, big and small, to make a difference in the lives of others, and to draw us closer to one other, to Jewish tradition, and to God.
Which is why it is my hope and prayer for all of us this Shabbat and beyond, that we recognize the power in each and every
mitzvah, both big and small, as an opportunity to make a difference. There are an abundance of opportunities to do
mitzvot, and it my hope that we can take advantage of many more of them, enriching our own lives and the world around us.