Eretz asher Hashem Elokecha doreish osah tamid einei Hashem Elokecha bah me’reishis hashanah v’ad acharis shanah (Devarim 11:12)
Parashas Eikev contains a passage which extols the many virtues of the Land of Israel, which the Jewish people would be entering shortly. The section concludes by proclaiming that although Hashem controls the entire world, His primary attention is constantly focused on the Land of Israel. However, a careful reading of the verse seems to reveal a glaring lack of parallel structure. The verse mentions the beginning of “the year” (me’reishis hashanah), but concludes by referring to the end of “year” (acharis shanah).
The Satmar Rebbe explains that Parashas Eikev is read toward the end of the summer, as our vacation periods slowly come to an end. The realization that the Shabbos on which we bless the upcoming month of Elul is only one week away serves as a wake-up call that the time for examining our ways is just around the corner.
Every year, a person gets excited about this opportunity for spiritual rebirth, eager to improve his deficiencies. He convinces himself that this will be “the year” of all years, the year in which he is finally successful in addressing the issues which have haunted him throughout his life. He makes a list of the areas he plans to rectify. Upon its completion, he becomes filled with enthusiasm, convinced that he is on the home stretch to becoming the new person that he always dreamed of.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that the Evil Inclination is only too happy to let him repeat the process he engages in every year. It knows that with the passage of time, his dreams will be forgotten for another year as he becomes distracted by the responsibilities of everyday life. As the year draws to a close, he will look back with disappointment and realize that the year which he was sure would be “the year” was in reality just another ordinary year. The Torah hints to this phenomenon by referring to the start of the year as the beginning of “the” year — and the end of the year as merely the end of (yet another typical) year.
However, the Rebbe provides an insight full of consolation. In the Kedushah said during Mussaf (Nusach Sephard) the chazzan declares, “He is our G-d, He is Our Father, He is Our King, He is Our Savior. He will save and redeem us a second time, and will tell us in His mercy for all to see: ‘I have redeemed you at the end [of time] as at the beginning, to be to you for a G-d.’”
The Rebbe homiletically suggests that Hashem hints to us that we will be redeemed from the current exile “acharis k’reishis” — when the end (of the year) is like the beginning (of the year). The time will come when we won’t just begin the year excited that this will be “the year,” but when we will be able to look back at the end and declare proudly, “This was indeed ‘the year’!” When that time comes, Hashem will bring the ultimate redemption, may this be “the” year!
Parashah Q & A
Q: Rashi writes (9:20) that Aharon’s sons died as a punishment for his role in the sin of the golden calf. How can this be reconciled with Rashi’s comment (Shemos 24:11) that they died for inappropriately gazing at the Shechinah at Mount Sinai and with the explicit verses (Vayikra 10:1–2) which say they died for offering a foreign fire in the Mishkan?
Q: The Gemara in Pesachim (4a) rules that placing a mezuzah on one’s doorpost is an obligation for one who is currently in the residence. When one rents an apartment which already has mezuzos that were placed by a previous tenant, is he required to recite a blessing over them?
A: Harav Eliyahu Mizrachi answers that all of these sins contributed to cause their punishment. Harav Yisrael Salanter explains that even if a person sins, Hashem doesn’t mete out justice in a manner which will cause other righteous people to suffer indirectly. Although Nadav and Avihu sinned by gazing at the Shechinah or for offering a foreign fire, their death also caused untold pain to their father, Aharon. Had he been worthy, they would have been saved to spare him from the effects of their punishment. Rashi writes that due to his role in the golden calf, his merit was unable to protect them.
A: Harav Akiva Eiger cites the Gemara in Pesachim (4a) that the obligation to put up a mezuzah is incumbent not upon the house, but upon the person living there. Therefore, when a new owner or tenant moves in, he has a new obligation to put up a mezuzah, and as such, even if the mezuzos are already in place, he must recite a new blessing. He adds that this is so simple to him that he wouldn’t even bother to mention it except for the fact that many people are not careful about it and may forget to do so. However, he writes that he subsequently came across the opinion of the Birkei Yosef, who maintains that the blessing is only made at the time of the placing of the mezuzah, in which case the new owner would not make a blessing, leaving Harav Akiva Eiger unsure what to do on a practical level. The Magen Avraham writes that if a person put up the mezuzah before actually moving into the house, when he moves in, he should recite a blessing Asher kideshanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu lador ba’bayis she’yeish bo mezuzah — thanking Hashem for commanding us to dwell in a house that has a mezuzah.
Originally from Kansas City, Rabbi Ozer Alport graduated from Harvard, learned in Mir Yerushalayim for five years, and now lives in Brooklyn, where he learns in Yeshivas Beis Yosef, is the author of the recently-published sefer Parsha Potpourri, and gives weekly shiurim. To send comments to the author or to receive his Divrei Torah weekly, please email oalport@Hamodia.com.