The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Steven; Sarah Levy | Go to book overview

‘EKEV

❖ Don’t Tread on Me
The Gadsden flag, designed in 1775 by American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden, features a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” Like the bald eagle, the rattlesnake was found throughout the thirteen colonies and thus became a symbol of America. The flag’s motto calls to mind the opening verse from Parashat ‘Ekev.

And if you do obey these rules and observe them care-
fully, the Lord your God will maintain faithfully for you
the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers.
(Deut. 7:12)

Rashi comments on the unusual usage of the word ekev ( , literally, “heel,” but here meaning “if”):

And if you do obey: If even the lesser commandments [mitz-
vot] that a person [sometimes] tramples with his heels you
will obey. (Rashi, Deut. 7:12)

While it may be true—borrowing a phrase from the Declaration of Independence—that all mitzvot are created equal, it does not follow, as Rashi points out, that they are all treated with the same regard. The rationale for following some of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot, such as honoring one’s parents, is easier to understand than others, such as not wearing garments that contain both wool and linen (shatnez). Some mitzvot, such as discussing the Exodus from Egypt on the first night of Passover, are easy to fulfill, while others, such as writing a Torah scroll, may be considerably more difficult. Rashi teaches us to strive to perform all the mitzvot to the best of our abilities.
Questions for Discussion
1. Is there a mitzvah you particularly enjoy performing? If so, what do you find appealing about it?
2. Is there a mitzvah you find either difficult to understand or challenging to perform? If so, would you be open to learning more about it in an effort to become more receptive to its performance?
3. Is there a mitzvah you believe could have a positive impact on society if many more people observed it? If so, how would you propose engaging more people to perform it?

❖ Follow-Through

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy expressed his intention “of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” before the decade was over. While thousands of people played a role in enabling the United States to achieve this goal, the person most associated with the accomplishment is Neil Armstrong, who in 1969 became the first person to walk on the moon. A verse in

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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