This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs this Monday at 7:00 pm PST on live cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

Tonight’s show comes from The House Of Rabbs channel.

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This week we study Parashat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25).

* An Orthodox rabbi declares publicly that he will no longer say the morning blessing, “Thank you God for not making me a woman.”

* How did you spend Tu B’Av (Jewish holiday of love)? This is not a Jewish Valentine’s Day. It’s not love and sex in the secular sense. It’s an undoing of the needless hatred that caused the destruction of the second temple.

* This world is filled with goodness and you should enjoy it. You should have children. Having kids is a sign of optimism.

* Deut. 7:15: God will remove from you every illness. Is this true?

In a sense, if you don’t do destructive things like man-on-man bareback buttsex, you’ll likely be spared all sorts of diseases such as AIDS. Don’t share intravenous needles.

* No wonder that Jews have so much confidence. God tells them that if they follow Him, they will be the most blessed of peoples.

* Is it easier to forget God if you are rich or if you are poor?

* Israel is the land where God watches you carefully and rewards and punishes with particular effect. Most people don’t want to be watched carefully. They want privacy. Most people don’t want an intense relationship with God. Many people may like dealing with me on occasion, but many of these people would not want me around them every day.

* Beware of arrogance. (Deut. 8:14) Life is a spiral staircase. We keep passing through four stages — dependence, feeling small in a big world, mastery and grandiosity.

* Egypt got its water from the Nile. Israel gets its water from the sky. Israel is hardwired for religion. It breeds a different mentality. The Egyptians worshiped the Nile and the Jews God. The modern equivalent to worrying about the rain is the stock market.

* Tapping into the wisdom of the Torah brings success, whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. Look at LeBron James who brought Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto with him to a major business transaction. The Torah is a book of wisdom and much of the wisdom is transmitted through its laws. The Torah is sacred to Christians as well as to Jews. If Muslims tapped into their Jewish roots, they’d become successful too.

* Deut. 8:9 “You will eat bread without poverty.” I can’t think of anything in Torah that says poverty is good. Material success is a worthy pursuit so long as it is done in accord with God’s commandments. Poverty sucks. Hunger sucks. Suffering sucks.

Artscroll: “The Land will have a thriving economy that will provide its population with the means to purchase whatever commodities they need.”

* When blessings are promised for observance of God’s commandments, it does not mean that every individual who observes them will be blessed. It means that ceteris parabis (all things being equal), you will be blessed. If you lived in a vacuum, you will be blessed. And the Jewish people in general will be blessed. But if a righteous man slips and falls in front of an onrushing car, he’s as likely to get crushed as a wicked man in the same circumstance.

* Deut. 8:11. How can you know if someone believes in God? By how they behave. Do they observe God’s commandments?

If you believe in God, how would people know it from your behavior?

* Deut. 9:1. “You will drive out nations greater and mightier than you.” Reminds me of the success of the IDF against Israel’s more numerous enemies.

* Just like 3,200 years ago, Jews are once again in a conflict for the land of Israel with people who sacrifice their children to their gods.

* Moshe tells the Jews that they are not getting the land of Israel because they are so righteous. This has echoes to this day. It was secular Jews who founded the modern state of Israel.

* Moshe had an unparalleled relationship with God and yet he was angry and miserable much of the time. So you can have an amazing relationship with God and it is not enough. We need people too.

* What does God want? Deut. 10:12-13, to love God with everything you’ve got and to follow all of His commandments. That’s a lot! That’s not simple. That’s all? That’s everything. What about the person who’s not interested in performing all of the commandments? Should he walk away or should he do what he can? Is God’s covenant all or nothing?

* Deut. 10:16. Do not stiffen your neck. There are more joints in the neck than anywhere else in your body and when you stiffen your neck, you send out ripples of compression throughout your body, stiffening you, tensing you, compressing your whole self. The Torah links a stiff neck with stubbornness. How you are in your body will affect your personality. If you are stiff and held in your body, you’ll likely be stiff in the way that you relate to people.

* New Zealand (which has a Jewish prime minister, John Key) is not a friendly place for Jews. Jewish animal slaughter is forbidden:

New Zealand has become the fifth country to ban kosher slaughtering methods, leaving the local Jewish community outraged. Agriculture Minister David Carter rejected his own advisers’ recommendation that Jewish ritual slaughter be exempted from a ruling that requires animals to be stunned before slaughtering.

The new regulation takes effect immediately, and New Zealand follows Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as countries that prohibit Jews from performing ritual slaughter.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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