“Parsha and Purpose” – Ekev 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“How Jewish should the ‘Jewish State’ Be?

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“How Jewish Should the ‘Jewish State’ Be?

What does it mean to be a “Jewish state”? A state whose laws are based on halacha – Jewish law? Or a state that serves as a homeland for the Jewish People, but which is more “kosher style” regarding halacha?

We are confronted with variations of these questions all the time, such as, for example, the perennial debate about whether or not public transportation should be permitted on Shabbat.

These questions are not just for the philosophers of Facebook and Twitter to debate.

How these and other questions are answered have a real impact on the lives of everyday people, Jewish and non-Jewish, in Israel and all over the world.

Our parsha, Parshat Ekev, provides guidance on how we might view this very sensitive issue.

Two arks accompanied the Jewish People, the second of which we learn about for the first time in this week’s Torah portion:

“V’Asita Lecha Aron Eitz,” “Make a wooden ark.”

Moshe reports that in bringing down the second set of tablets from Sinai, God commands him to make a wooden ark to house the shattered first set of tablets.

Why do we need this additional ark, made of wood? Was not the beautiful one, built by Betzalel from wood and overlaid with gold, sufficient?

Rashi and Tosafot explain that in fact each ark had a distinct role.

The golden ark, containing the fully whole second set of tablets, remained permanently within the private domain of the Tabernacle and the Temple.

In contrast, the wooden ark was brought into the public domain – specifically in times of war and challenge.

The golden ark in the private domain represents uncompromising permanence; the responsibility of ensuring that the Jewish spiritual experience remains complete and whole – much like the second set of tablets housed within.

But we ALSO have a responsibility, particularly in the State of Israel, to bring the ark into the public domain, to engage Judaism with society.

This is symbolized by the wooden ark, housing the broken luchot, that was brought into the public domain at challenging times to serve as a unifying symbol of hope and purpose. 

The Shattered Luchot symbolize that there are challenges and sometimes even setbacks, when Torah engages in the public domain.

But it was never used as a coercive symbol to divide the camp of the Jewish people. 

People are looking for meaning and purpose in Judaism, but they are not interested in being told HOW to do IT or HOW TO believe.

And we’ve seen this at Ohr Torah Stone. Our engagement with 400,000 secular Israelis every year at dozens of local community centers and parks where we share the beauty of our [Jewish] heritage and tradition, we do so in a spirit of acceptance, without any attempt to coerce.

Our engagement with Jews in the larger society must be based on love and shared destiny, without preconceived notions of where their journey will take them.

Ultimately, this is perhaps the most constructive way of helping shape the conversation of what it means to be a “Jewish state.”

May we succeed in this sacred responsibility.

Shabbat Shalom.

Ekev – Moments Before Entering the Land: You Haven’t Come Here Alone Moshe Rabbeinu wanted the Jewish people to understand that God would look after them even when they were at war, during the conquest of the land, and during times of concern, but they needed to pray a great deal, and keep their hopes …

Read moreEkev – Moments Before Entering the Land: You Haven’t Come Here Alone

Shabbat Shalom: Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – The biblical source for thanking the Almighty for the our worldly gifts is to be found in this week’s portion, Ekev. And if preparation of our meals takes a great deal of time and effort, if our tradition mandates so many laws about …

Read more“Shabbat Shalom” – Ekev 5780

Elana GOldscheder

Parashat Ekev: Redemption depends upon both the individual and the collective “And if you obey these rules…,” the words that begin the week’s parsha, serve as a reminder that our responsibility isn’t just communal. Rather, each of us, as an individual, must revisit his or her personal relationship with Hashem. Elana Goldscheider is Director of …

Read moreParshat Ekev: Redemption Depends upon Both the Individual and the Collective

This week’s parsha commentary has been dedicated by the Charif family of Sydney, Australiain honor of their granddaughter Yakira Bryna Elison’s 5th Birthday Shabbat Shalom: Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin    Efrat, Israel –  “Not by bread alone does a human being live, but rather by that which comes forth from the Lord’s …

Read more“Shabbat Shalom” – Parshat Ekev 5779

Parshat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) Rabbi David Stav In analyzing the Book of Deuteronomy (Devarim), it is the generally accepted practice to divide the book into three sections, one for each of Moses’ major speeches. In his first speech, which ends at the beginning of Parshat Va’etchanan, Moses recounts the history of the Israelites’ wanderings in the …

Read more“Parsha to the Point” – Ekev 5778

Parshat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And now Israel what does the Lord Your G-d ask of you, only to revere the Lord your G-d and to walk in all of His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and with all …

Read more“Shabbat Shalom” – Ekev 5778

Parshat Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) Rabbi David Stav  In Parshat Ekev, Moshe continues his series of farewell addresses to the People of Israel. I would like to focus on the promising and encouraging component of his address that describes the virtues of the Land of Israel, which is “…a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths …

Read more“Parsha to the Point” – Ekev 5777

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