Thursday, September 11, 2014

439 - Eikev

Twice in this week's parsha, we are urged to follow in Hashem's ways: "Now Yisrael, what does Hashem ask of you? Only to fear Hashem your G-d, to follow all His ways and to love Him" (Devarim 10, 12). The parsha ends with the second mention of this idea: "For if you will fulfill this mitzvah that I command you, to love Hashem your G-d, to walk in His ways, and cleave to Him . . ." (ibid. 11, 22). These are two of the numerous times that the Torah refers to the idea of our actions mirroring Hashem's actions, which refers to perfecting one's middos.

Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlomo) notes that we find this concept mentioned even before Bnei Yisrael received the Torah. After experiencing the awesome Heavenly revelation during the splitting of the sea, Bnei Yisrael declared, "zeh Keili v'anveihu." Rashi, in one explanation, writes that v'anveihu is composed of two words, ani v'Hu - I and Him: I will make myself like Him by cleaving to His ways. The Maharal writes that the common denominator of all the interpretations of zeh Keili v'anveihu is the publicizing of Hashem's Name in this world. With this in mind it would seem that the objective of ani v'Hu is to glorify Hashem's Name in this world, rather when perfecting one's way.

Accordingly, following in Hashem's ways has two different purposes. The mitzvah to walk in His ways was given to us as a means of attaining perfection. If we emulate Hashem's deeds then we, too, will attain a certain level of His perfection. However, there is another aspect to following in Hashem's ways that is not focused on the person performing the deeds, rather, on his Creator. If we act in a manner that mirrors the ways of Hashem, we will have succeeded in creating a kiddush Hashem, glorifying His Name in the world. 

Which ever aspect you choose to focus on, it is clear that the Torah places a great emphasis on the importance of good middos. Moreover, it is clear from Chazal that they perceived negative middos as the reason behind the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh. Baseless hatred is singled out as the cause for the destruction. Additionally, the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza where a man was publicly embarrassed due to his strained relationship with his host, was perceived by Chazal as the catalyst for the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.

Summer months generally bring us into close proximity with many other families in a way different from the rest of the year. Other people's dirt, noise or inconsideration are great ways to get us angry. If we can control our middos then we have succeeded in walking in Hashem's way, thereby perfecting ourselves and glorifying Hashem's Name in the world!

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