Shabbos Parashas Eikev

This week’s parashah begins as follows (Devarim 7:12-19):
And it shall come about as a result, if you heed these laws and take care to fulfill them, that Hashem your God shall safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He shall love you, and bless you, and multiply you. … And you shall consume all the peoples that Hashem your God will deliver unto you …. If you say in your heart, “These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?” do not be afraid of them; remember well what Hashem your God did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt – the great tests that your eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, with which Hashem your God took you out. So shall Hashem your God do to all the peoples before whom you are afraid.
The Maggid sets out to explain the second half of this passage. It cannot be, he says, that the Torah is simply telling us not to fear enemy nations, for the Torah already conveyed this message many times elsewhere. Rather, the Torah’s intent is to offer us a different sort of encouragement.
It is a basic principle that the degree of aid Hashem grants a person depends on the degree to which he puts his trust in Him and takes refuge in Him. In this vein, David HaMelech entreats (Tehillim 33:22): “May Your kindness be upon us, Hashem, as we hoped in You.” And Yeshayah declares (verse 30:15): “For thus said my Lord, Hashem/Elokim, the Holy One of Yisrael, ‘In stillness and peacefulness shall you be saved; in quiet and in confidence shall be your might.’” In Shir HaShirim 6:3 it is written: “I am unto my Beloved and my Beloved is unto Me.” The Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim, part III, ch. 51, explains that Hashem draws close to a person to the same degree that the person draws close to Him. Similarly, Hashem watches over a person and aids him in proportion to the degree of trust the he puts in Him. Reflecting the negative side of this relationship, Iyov declares (verse 3:24): “I harbored a fear and it overtook me, and what I dreaded came upon me” –  because Iyov was overtaken with fear and did not maintain trust in Hashem, in the end he suffered the calamity that he had feared. Because of this principle, the Torah dictates that Jewish soldiers going out to battle against their enemies be charged not to harbor any fear (Devarim 20:3-4): “Do not let your heart be faint; do not fear, do not panic, and do not be broken before them. For Hashem, your God, is the One who goes with you, to fight for you with your enemies, to save you.”
Yet, it can still happen that an individual soldier, in the middle of battle, will be struck suddenly with fear, and, recognizing that his level of trust in Hashem has dropped, will conclude that his hopes of succeeding and emerging from the battle unharmed are now lost. It is to such a person that the second half of the passage from the parashah is addressed. The Torah says: “If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?’ do not be afraid of them.” The Torah is telling us: “If you are taken aback and feel fear in your heart, do not conclude that you are now finished and give up. Even in this situation, Hashem is ready to grant salvation.” As proof, the Torah cites the Jewish People’s experience in Egypt. At that time, under the yoke of harsh oppression, the Jewish People were gripped with terror. Nonetheless, Hashem came to their aid and rescued them. And He will do likewise, the Torah says, in other situations where we are faced with an enemy and, taken aback, are struck with doubts; we should not be afraid, for despite our doubts Hashem will still stand by us and save us.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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