Drash Cards for Eikev (5779)
by Marc Mangel
• By my count, 7 weeks to Shabbat Shuvah.
• It is not too early (it is never too early) to start your Teshuvah – returning to discover the Godliness that everywhere surrounds us and that is in everyone.
• A guide to doing this is in the part of the parsha that we read today. It began: “What does God demand of you? Only that you revere God…walk in all God’s ways, love God, and serve God”.
• There is a lot about what to do
– revere God
– walk in God’s ways
– serve God
– know that God do not play favorites or take bribes
– take care of the orphan and the widow
– take care of the resident alien in our midst
• But there is little advice on how to do it. The only hint is in 10:16 . READ HEBREW.
• From the Rebbe’s Chumash: “You must therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart and cease being stiff-necked”. From the JPS Chumash “Cut away the thickening of your heart and cease being stiff-necked”. ASK: how is it translated in Stone, Hirsch.
• Even after a considerable study, I could not figure out the real meaning of “cut way the thickening of your heart”, but I could figure out “stop being stiff-necked” so I approached it that way.
• I decided that stiff-necked meant arrogant, and then looked up synonyms and antonyms of arrogant.
• From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
• Synonyms of arrogant
assumptive, bumptious, cavalier, chesty, haughty, highfalutin (also hifalutin), high-and-mighty, high-handed, high-hat, huffish, huffy, imperious, important, lofty, lordly, masterful, overweening, peremptory, pompous, presuming, presumptuous, pretentious, self-asserting, self-assertive, sniffy, stiff-necked !!! supercilious, superior, toplofty (also toploftical), uppish, uppity
• Antonyms of arrogant
• The ratio of synonyms to antonyms 30:5. What do we conclude from these data? First, that it is 6 times easier to be stiff-necked than it is to have a heart where the thickening is cut away. It is 6 times easier to fall into patterns of arrogance than humility. The Torah is telling us that this is human nature.
• Second, you can get a jump start on your Teshuvah by working on those thoughts and actions that would be synonyms of stiff-necked.
• Finally, this is important to do. In commentary on Proverbs, 10:12, Tzanat Panea’ch says that love is the foundation of human society; without love society crumbles. The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that only modest people can feel true love for others, because arrogant people only love themselves. Thus, in working to eliminate the thickening around your heart you are preventing society from crumbling.
• Shabbat shalom
[And from the Kiddush discussion: Robin Kopit said to me “When you said thickening around your heart, I immediately thought about how we have to fight off cynicism as we get older; it comes like wave”. That would be another drash.]