“You shall faithfully observe all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, that you may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that יהוה promised on oath to your fathers. Take care lest you forget your God יהוה and fail to keep the divine commandments, rules, and laws which I enjoin upon you today. If you do forget your God יהוה and follow other gods to serve them or bow down to them, I warn you this day that you shall certainly perish;” Deut 8:1, 8:11, 8:19
Parsha Eikev is my Bat Mitzvah Torah portion. I barely remember what I spoke about; the day was a blur. A few years ago, I asked my mom, “do you remember what I talked about at my Bat Mitzvah?” All we remembered was something involving reward and punishment. On the surface, we were correct. Examining reward vs. punishment or blessing vs. curses as an adult offers a deeper insight into these concepts. This text is about serving our highest good and the highest good of our community. If we uphold the best rules and regulations of our community (in Eikev’s case, God’s commandments), we will reap all of the benefits and blessings of fruitful and abundant life. If we make a misstep, forget God, forget our “highest good,” then we will face difficulty. Will we perish, as God clearly states in Torah? I do not think we will be struck down by lightening or by some physical form of God’s wrath, but I do believe that if we are in service of only our lowest selves, our sole ego and own wants and needs in the negation of others, we will face tremendous struggle. Only considering our immediate base wants and needs and ignoring our community’s more essential goals prevents us from building fruitful relationships. We become disconnected and solitary rather than connected and engaged. This week, consider how you might serve your highest purpose and the highest purpose of those around you.