Eikev 2005

The Parsha begins with the beautiful promise that Hashem gives if we observe the Torah. Vehaya Eikev Tishmaun – and it will be, if you will listen to the Commandments, then Hashem will reward you, love you, bless you,… In Hebrew, the word Tishmaun (you will listen) is in the plural, while Hashem promises His blessings Lecha –in the singular - to each individual. Why is it that when talking about the Jewish peoples observance the Torah speaks in the plural – of everyones observance; while when talking about the reward the Torah talks in the singular – to each individual person?

The Klei Chemda explains that in the physical act of doing the mitzvah we all do the same thing; we all say the same kiddush, light the same Shabbos candles, eat the same kosher food, have the same Shabbos,… However, the reward Hashem gives us is not just for the physical mitzvah. The reward we receive is measured according to the way we do the mitzvah. What is measured is not just the physical act, but the emotions involved - the amount of joy, care, love of Hashem,… that went into doing the mitzvah, or G-d forbid, any feelings of resentment, lack of excitement,… This is dependent upon the attitude of each individual person. No two people have the same emotions or challenges in doing a mitzvah. Therefore, when the Torah promises the reward, a switch is made to the singular. Each person is promised their own individual degree of reward, in relation to the attitude they had when they did their mitzvohs

. An additional thought is offered by Rav Moshe Sternbuch. The son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, the famed Rav Hersh Levinson once visited a city in Europe that was renowned for its laxity in Shabbos observance. While there, he was very disturbed to find that the levels of Shabbos desecration that he had heard about were really true. However, he was told, there lived in this very city, where Torah observance was so lax, a very great Tzaddik (Righteous person) So great was this Tzaddik, he was told, that he was actually one of the thirty-six hidden tzadikkim of his generation. Rav Levinson visited this person, and was surprised to see that the report seemed true. This person really did seem to be one of the thirty-six tzadikkim of the generation. However, Rav Levinson told his students that he was not happy with this tzadik. “Although Hashem is certainly proud of hidden tzadikim, in such a city, where Torah observance needs so desperately to be strengthened, it is not proper to be a hidden Tzaddik. One must observe the mitzvohs in public, to set an example for others, and to set the tone for others to follow.”

This certainly comes to mind in our day and age. So many people are unaware of the beauty of Torah and the mitzvohs. When we observe Shabbos, keep kosher, or do other mitzvohs we shouldn’t hide it. We should be happy with the opportunity to set an example for others and show them the way of Hashem.