Summary: Eikeb is the 3rd parasha in the Book of Debarim. It continues the first of Moshe’s final speeches to the Bnei Yisrael as they prepared to enter Cana’an. Eikebis preoccupied with warning the Israelites against the immigrant’s cycle of insecurity, complacency, arrogance and idolatry/ assimilation when settling into their new land.
Moshe constructed a polarity for the people by telling them of their reward for following G-d’s ways and by threatening punishment for disobedience and neglect.They’re told inheriting Cana’an is not a natural entitlement but that it will be given to them because the current inhabitants were corrupted and unworthy.
He reminded them of their father’s sin with the Golden Calf and other rebellions, charging this generation to remain steadfast in fulfilling G-d’s commands and worshipping G-d with all their hearts and souls. Intertwined with his exhortations, Moshe reminded the people G-d redeemed them from slavery but that they often failed to be appreciative (Datan & Aviram, swallowed by the earth for rebelling, were an example).
In the last section of Eikeb, which contains the second paragraph of Shema, Moshe described the difference between the land of Egypt and the land of Cana’an. The nation was told ‘Cana’an is a land the Almighty looks after constantly, G-d’s eyes are on it from the beginning of the year until the end.’ (Debarim 11:12) The parasha ends with a promise G-d would ensure ‘their success in the land.’
Comment: Following the horrible incidents in Israel last week, there’s no better way to lose the ‘moral high-ground’ than to act and become as barbaric as one’s enemies. Any nation or people who claim to be moral must live by a standard demonstrating a higher morality. When they stop living-up to that standard they lose the claim of ‘being righteous’ and instead become like other nations or people who live according to a lower moral way.
While the actions of a few Jewish ‘terrorists’ have been widely denounced, perhaps this is an opportunity to revisit the institutional policies and structures which may encourage such extremist behaviour. And, just as an entire nation of Israelis shouldn’t be tarnished by the image of a few vigilantes, we might ask ourselves how much we too, fairly or otherwise, allow images from the media to colour and shape our view of ‘others’.
For a lovely explanation of the traditional belief why both the broken and whole tablets were preserved in the Aron Kodesh, please see this parasha comment from Rabbi Marc Angel of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.