Provided by Bais Hamussar
A Division of Institute Of Torah Ethics
Founded by the Mashgiach, Harav Shlomo Wolbe Z"L
Friday, August 21, 2009
187 - Eikev
In the first pasuk of this week's parsha, "V'haya eikev tishmi'oon" (Devarim 7, 12,) Rashi translates "eikev" as a heel. He explains that if we heed the mitzvos that people trample with their heel, Hashem will bestow upon us the many brachos enumerated subsequently in the parsha. It is the small actions that garner great blessings.
On the other hand, says Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlomo), we find that the same concept applies to aveiros. The Gemara (Avodah Zara 18a) relates that the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion was once walking and two Roman noblemen took notice of her manner of walking. "Look how beautiful this young girl's footsteps are!" one commented to the other. When she overheard their comment, she immediately placed even more emphasis on her manner of walking, and as the Gemara continues, she was severely punished by Heaven. Chazal tell us that through this story we can understand the pasuk in Tehillim, "The sin of my heel will surround me." It is the seemingly small and insignificant aveiros that a person "treads on with his heel" that surround him at the time of judgment. Additionally, the Medrash tells us that both Moshe Rabbeinu and David Hamelech were tested specifically with small actions to see if they were fit to become leaders of Bnei Yisroel.
Why is this so? Why are the small actions so crucial, to the point that they have the power to activate great blessing or, G-d forbid, trigger terrible punishment? Why are they the litmus test for determining true greatness? The answer is that grandiose deeds are not testimony to one's benevolence, nor is refraining from giant aveiros evidence to his fear of Heaven. Often big mitzvos are accompanied by pomp and therefore are more readily performed. One might donate ten million dollars to a charitable institution that will put his name on their building faster than he would give a significantly smaller donation to an organization that would send him no more than a simple receipt. Similarly, one might have a guilty conscience when it comes to serious aveiros, while he feels not a twinge of regret when speaking during davening or other aveiros that seem insignificant to him. Hence, the Torah was not so "worried" about the serious aveiros, since a person's conscience usually pushes him to do teshuva. It is the small aveiros that people trample daily that lack repentance and therefore stay with a person until the Day of Judgment. It is only big people that are meticulous with every small action.
Chazal tell us that one who purifies himself a small amount in this world, is purified a tremendous amount in the world to come. So let us take a small step in purifying ourselves by deciding to be meticulous in an area that we have hitherto trampled upon. Here too, small actions are imperative. Don't take upon yourself something that you know will backfire due to its difficulty. Small steps and small actions make big people.