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Parshat Eikev (5765)

This week's section begins on a very strange note:

"Because (Eikev) you will listen to these statutes and keep them and do them… G-d will keep the covenant....that He promised your forefathers."

In other words, the Torah is saying with certainty THAT all the Jews will listen and follow the commandments.

Where is free will? Can it be that no one will choose to just do what he wants and not follow the Torah?

And it can't be that the Torah is hinting here that G-d or the Rabbis will force everyone to be religious; the term "listen to the commandments" means to appreciate and enjoy them.

Can it be that every Jew will choose and enjoy Judaism on his/her own? From the way things look today that seems very improbable.

Even more, if G-d could somehow make all the Jews do and enjoy the commandments then why didn't He just make it happen a few thousand years ago? Then all the catastrophes caused by our sins; the Temple destructions, exiles, pogroms, holocausts would have been avoided?

To understand this here is a story (HaGeula #255)

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Freedman, the manager of the Chabad House in Zichron Yaakov, is accustomed to miracles - anyone that is involved with the work of the Lubavitcher Rebbe is. In fact they have almost have become second-nature.

But there are some that stand out more than others.

For instance, recently Rabbi Freedman received a desperate phone call from David, one of the men that prays in his synagogue, with an urgent request for a blessing from the Rebbe.

The son of a good friend of theirs had been rushed to the hospital that evening with a severely ruptured appendix and the doctors were very pessimistic.

In fact, as they took the boy into the operating room they told his parents to 'shake the heavens with prayer'; only a miracle, a big miracle, would save their son. Not a common thing for doctors to say.

Immediately the family contacted all their friends, relatives, and neighbors until half of the town was saying psalms for Avraham Chaim ben Lilian

That was an hour ago and he was still in the operating room.

That was when David suddenly remembered the Lubavitcher Rebbe; if anyone could shake the heavens it was him....he rushed to the Chabad house.

Rabbi Freedman sat down with him and they wrote a letter to the Rebbe, pulled out one of the 25 volumes of Igrot Kodesh (a collection of thousands of the 'Holy Letters' that the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote in answer to myriads of questions) and opened it randomly.

It opened to a letter the Rebbe had written to a soldier some fifty years earlier telling him to be careful with the commandment of putting on Tefillin daily. The Rebbe explained in the letter that besides being an important commandment of G-d, Tefillin protects and helps those who wear them.

Rabbi Freedman understood the word 'careful' to mean that the parchments in Avraham Chiam's Tefillin had to be checked; even one defective letter there would be enough to render them 'unfit' (posul).

He called the boy's parents and together they brought the boy's Tefillin (and even all the Mezuzot in their house just for good measure) to be checked by an expert scribe, and the results were surprising.

The Mezuzot and the parchments of the head Tefillin were 'kosher'. But one letter in the parchments in the arm Tefillin looked wrong.

The letter 'Resh' in the last word 'HaAretz' looked a bit like a 'Vav' which could mean that Avraham Chaim had never really fulfilled the commandment of arm Tefillin in his life. (The arm and head Tefillin are really two separate commandments.) But it was hard to tell.

"We have to find a young child NOW! URGENTLY!!" Rabbi Freedman said emphatically.

(In such a case; when there is a question on the shape of a letter, it is necessary to ask a young child who knows the letters but can't yet read the words. If the child would say in our case that the letter is a 'Resh' the Tefillin are Kosher but if not, then the Tefillin must be fixed.)

The only problem was that it was well after midnight, where would they possibly find a child at that hour? But they were in luck! Avraham's entire family was awake, including his three year old brother.

They rushed back to the boy's home gave the child the parchment and he clearly read the letter to be a vav! The Tefillin were no good.

Rabbi Freedman insisted that there was no time to lose; they rushed back to the scribe, woke him from bed and begged him to fix the mistake immediately, which he did.

Now Avraham Chiam finally had Kosher Tefillin!!

But the family, as much as they were pleased by the discovery and its solution, did not understand the urgency of it all.

After all, their son wouldn't be able to put on Tefillin for at least another day; the operation had been a severe one and he probably would be unconscious for a while, if he was still alive.

And in any case it was the middle of the night; Tefillin are only worn in the day!!

But Rabbi Freedman explained.

He remembered that the Rebbe once told a not-so-observant Israeli man who was sick in a hospital in Europe to have his family back in Israel check Tefillin that he left behind there because just OWNING proper Tefillin affords some protection and benefit to its owners (How much more so putting them on.)

The next morning the doctors verified it.

That night, shortly after the time the Tefillin were corrected, a miraculous improvement occurred in the boy's condition. Avraham Chaim not only survived but was completely recovered and on his feet in a few days. Even the Israeli doctors admitted that it was a miracle.

And certainly it brought them a bit closer to doing the commandment of Tefillin.

There are hundreds of similar stories from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. But if we really think about it, this one makes no sense!

First, the whole thing was based on randomly opening a book of the Rebbe's letters.

Second, maybe Tefillin bring good luck but what could they possibly have to do with healing a burst appendix?

Third, the boy and his Tefillin were in two different places. In fact, he was unconscious for the entire episode! He not only didn't put them he didn't even know that they had been (or needed to be) fixed!

But that is exactly the point of the miracle. It was like the world to come - the age of Moshiach.

The true nature of man is to be healthy. Sickness, even death, is not a natural state.

In fact the Talmud tells us that when the Torah was given not only all the sick were healed, the lame walked, the blind saw and the mute spoke (that is why Moses ceased stuttering) - Even DEATH was removed from the world!!

So, if it wasn't for the sin of the Golden calf man would have lived forever. (Similarly Adam, the first man was created to live eternally were it not for the sin of the tree.)

This is the job of Moshiach.

The Moshiach that we have been waiting for two thousand years will return the world to its natural, healthy state (as the Rambam writes at the very end of his fourteen volume masterpiece) and eventually bring even the raising of the dead (which is higher than both Adam before the sin and even than the revelation at Sinai, because it will transform death to life.)

But it will all be done through the Torah and its commandments: Jews learning and observing the Torah in love and fear of G-d will cure the entire world!!

The Torah is "The Tree of Life" and the commandments are the 'Limbs of the infinite ONE'; cutting across all boundaries of time, space and consciousness. And similarly the Jews are an eternal people above all limitations of creation.

So it is no wonder that the Rebbe could (and can) answer through a letter written to 'someone else' fifty years ago, or that Tefillin can help an unconscious person in another city that isn't putting them on.

That is why the Torah is can state here with certainly 'Eikev' THAT every Jew will certainly listen:

Because the Torah here is referring to the days of Moshiach when the true nature of every Jew will be revealed. And in the language of the Zohar; the Jews, G-d and the Torah are one.

And we have to say that the reason it didn't happen earlier is because it all depends on us, our generation, to do all we can to bring.....

Moshiach NOW!!

Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

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