Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parashat EKEV by the Satmarer Rebbe z"l

Sunset in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Already three weeks ago, we read Parashat Ekev. One of the Shearim readers sent me the following commentary on the Parasha.

In Parshas Ekev, in Devarim 11:12, the Torah says (emphazing is mine):

 ארץ אשר ד' אלהיך דרש אתה תמיד עיני ד' אלקיך בה מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה 

The Satmar Rebbe points out a glaring lack of parallel structure in our verse, which mentions the beginning of the year (מרשית השנה) and the end of a year (אחרית שנה). He explains that Parshas Eikev is read toward the end of the summer, as vacation slowly comes to an end. The realization that Shabbos M’vorchim 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 putting away of the sukkah, 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 year. The Torah hints to this phenomenon in referring to the beginning of the year as רשית השנה – the beginning of the year – and the end of the year as merely אחרית שנה – the end of yet another typical year!

However, the Satmar Rebbe, in his inimitable fashion, provides a brilliant insight full of consolation. In the Kedushah said during Mussaf (Nusach Sefard), the chazzan says

הוא אלקינו הוא אבינו. הוא מלכנו הוא מושיענו. והוא יושיענו ויגאלנו שנית וישמיענו ברחמיו שנית לעיני כל חי לאמר. הן גאלתי אתכם אחרית כראשית להיות לכם לאלקים – 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 Satmar Rebbe homiletically suggests that Hashem hints to us that we will be redeemed from the current exile אחרית כרשית – 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! 

A brilliant insight and I wish that we are all able to say: THIS WAS THE YEAR ! The truth is that I would be able to say it. Of course, there were some difficulties I had to go through but for me personally: THIS WAS THE YEAR !

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