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   by Jacob Solomon

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE TEXT AND COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT EKEV - 5766


1. How does the Chinuch understand the prohibition of 'bringing an abomination into your home'? (7:26)

2. Moses reminded the Israelites that G-d made them go hungry in the wilderness (8:3). How may this be reconciled with the very next words recording G-d's supplying them with manna according to (a) Ibn Ezra and (b) the Ramban?

3. List the seven sources of food that the Torah lists in praise of the Holy Land.

4. Why, in the context of the Parasha, does Moses recall the shortcomings of the Israelites after the Giving of the Torah according to (a) the Ramban and (b) the S'forno?

5. What is the relationship between the wooden ark recalled in the Parasha (10:1), and the Ark of the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:10) - according to (a) Rashi and (b) the Ramban?

6. For what reason does Moses recall Aaron's death within the context of the Parasha - according to (a) Rashi and (b) the Ramban?

7. How does the Ramban understand Moses' emphasizing that 'G-d does not take bribes' (10:17).

8. How does the Chinuch (431) understand the commandment of being required to 'love the stranger'? (10:19).

9. Moses describes the Holy Land as the 'Land which G-dů seeks out' (11:12). What is the meaning of that phrase according to Rashi?

10. Where, according to Rashi, are the following principles shown in the Parasha?

(a) The Israelites must faithfully observe the Mitzvot even if they are exiled from the Land.

(b) The dead will come back to life one day in the future

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT AND COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT EKEV

1. The Chinuch (435) understands the prohibition of 'bringing an abomination into your home' as not just referring to objects associated with idolatry, but also to wealth accumulated in violation of Torah law. The Chinuch states that the force that persuades people to seek forbidden enrichment is identical to the one that tempts people towards paganism.

2. Moses reminding the Israelites that G-d made them 'go hungry' in the wilderness does not mean actual hunger per se, but basic living, without any luxuries (Ibn Ezra). The Ramban regards this 'hunger' as referring to its seemingly insubstantial nature - manna was a new experience, which they did not know if they would survive for long.

3. These are wheat, barley, the vine (grapes), figs, pomegranates, olives (for oil) and dates (for honey). As 8:8.

4. According to the Ramban, Moses recalled the shortcomings of the Israelites after the Giving of the Torah to reinforce that the commandments were to be taken seriously at all times. (b) The S'forno uses these incidents to stress the continuous nature of rebellion as the reason for the Israelites being unworthy of inheriting the Land in their own merits (9:4-5).

5. Rashi quotes the view found in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 6) that the wooden ark was the permanent home of the shattered First Tablets of Stone shattered by Moses. That was the ark that normally accompanied the Israelites on the battlefield. The Ramban brings the view that the wooden ark was a temporary home for both the First and Second Tablets, with both being transferred to the Ark in the Holy of Holies on completion of the Tabernacle.

6. According to Rashi, Moses recalls Aaron's death as a continuation to the words of warning earlier on. Following the Jerusalem Talmud tradition, his death led to a period of despair with breakaway groups and civil war amongst the Israelites. According to the Ramban, it relates to Moses having successfully interceded for Aaron's life following his role in the incident of the Golden Life (9:20) - indeed, he lived for nearly another forty years.

7. 'G-d does not take bribes' means that He does not trade off good deeds for bad ones. Rather, he rewards the good ones and punishes the bad ones - the good deeds not being 'bribes' to cover the bad ones.

8. The Chinuch (431) declares that the Torah's command to love the stranger does not only include the convert, but any newcomer who is a 'stranger' to a community - be it in the neighborhood, at work, or at school.

9. The Holy Land being the 'Land which G-dů seeks out' means that when G-d blesses the world at large, he seeks out the Land of Israel, and the rest of the world is blessed through its blessings. [In that light, the Ohr Hachayim points out that the whole world suffers when Israel is exiled or unworthy of His blessing.]

10. Both concepts are derived from the Second Paragraph of the Shema; according to Rashi:

(a) The Israelites must faithfully observe the Mitzvot even if they are exiled from the Land: after they are 'swiftly banished from the good landů' (11:17), they must still 'put My words on their hearts and on their souls' (11:18) - these verses being understood to follow consecutively.

(b) The dead will come back to life one day in the future: G-d states that He swore to your fathers that He would give the Land to 'them' (rather than the expected 'you') - meaning that they would one day be revived and inherit the Land in person. This is one of the Biblical sources for the resurrection of the deceased (see also Ez. 37).

ADDITIONAL QUESTION ON PARASHAT EKEV.

What is the connection between - You shall observe the Commandments of the L-rd your G-d, to go in His ways and fear Him (8:6), and the next verses, which detail the superior natural resources of the Holy Land? Moses told the Israelites to observe the Torah because G-d was about to bring them into the richly endowed Promise Land. Is that a reason to observe the Commandments? For 'there is no sufficient reward in this world for a observing a Mitzvah.' (Talmud: Kiddushin 39b, based on Deut. 5:16)

My attempts to answer the above may be found on the Shema Yisrael website under Ekev 5761

Other Parashiot from previous years may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/index.htm

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Also by Jacob Solomon:
Between the Fish and the Soup

From the Prophets on the Haftara

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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