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Parashat Eikev: Various Teachings From Netivyah Staff

by Netivyah

In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Joseph Shulam: Not by Bread Alone [2019]

We are approaching the end of the Jewish year of 5779, and now we are reading from Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:45. This portion starts with the word “Eikev”. Translated into English, it means “because.”

The Hebrew root of this word is also the root of the name “Jacob”. It literally means “at the heel of / what follows/ this is what will happen / the cause of the following events”. If history is defined as a chain of events, then this word or concept stands in the middle of this chain of events.

It is so important to me to always ask the following question, “How and why did this happen to me?” I am not talking here about good things or bad things that happen, I am just asking the question about what happened.

Maybe I would like to repeat the success or avoid the repetition of unpleasant or unfruitful chapters of my life. So, this week, after the 9th of Av, the date that will be remembered in infamy through all of Jewish history, Jews read from Deuteronomy 7:12, and start with his word “Eikev.”

It all starts with the good, the blessed, the fruitful:

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.” – Deuteronomy 7:12–15 [NKJV]

Who would not want these wonderful blessings from God? Who would say to himself, “I am not interested to have anyone bless me?” Who would say, “I am not interested to increase and multiply the amount of money in my bank account?” Who would not be willing to pay for high medical insurance that guarantees that all sickness and affliction and terrible diseases will be taken away from himself and from his family?

There are church leaders who have become multi-millionaires by teaching fake prosperity doctrines. These preachers did prosper, at least for a season, by the fake news and the fake doctrines that say if people come to church and give money to the “church” (i.e. the pastor), God will prosper them and they will be lenders and not taking loans.

Here in the Torah there is God’s promise of prosperity, and even under this very clear word from God there is the small print that is not written and visible to the normal eye. The obedience and performance of God’s commands is not a mechanical performance of a robot, but a sincere obedience with the right motives and intentions out of the true relationship based on, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your might and with all your being!”

The right action with the wrong motives (remember that God looks into our hearts and know our motives and thoughts) is hypocrisy, and no one, not even our wives, nor our God, appreciates hypocrisy. On the contrary, hypocrisy always brings the opposite results to what we have hoped for.

The second major idea in next week’s reading is from Deuteronomy 8:1-4:

“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” – Deuteronomy 8:1-4 [NKJV]

The Lord is giving us a kind of a hidden revelation of why He does some things with us, and for us, and to us! It is true that at times, even when we are so-called “being good” and “trying our best” and “doing things right and from pure motives of really trying to obey and do right from all our heart”, suddenly “boom” we get something horrible and difficult and threatening our very existence.

Well here we are! The Lord reveals to us that the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, with all the difficulties of hunger and thirst and attacks of the enemy, were a test. As simple as that. A test to see if we would remain faithful and keep our faith in God, and keep His commandments.

The words here actually make me a little upset:

“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna… that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:3 [NKJV]

My first reaction was, “Who does He thinks He is?” “Who gave Him the permission to make us hunger? Who wants to be humbled? For sure it is not me!”

Then, with a flash of freezing ice cold sweat across my forehead, I realized the importance of the lesson. It is that the Lord God Creator of the Universe was and is attempting to teach us, that man (me) does not live by bread alone! Bread here is not only pita bread with falafel, not even a good juicy beef steak, bread here is money and assets and bank accounts and savings, and every false security that we want to lean on.

To learn this important lesson, God sent our forefathers 40 years through the university of hard knocks. Many have entered and gone through this university of hard knocks for many years, and have even have the impression that they have graduated summa cum laude, but in reality, few have learned the lesson that “man does not live by bread alone.”

Those that did learn this lesson have become humble and passionate lovers of God and humanity, or shall I reverse the order and say lovers of humanity and God. Those who have successfully learned this lesson have given up their selfish desires and work for the good of many, and not just the few in their family.

I better end here this diatribe and just wish for myself to learn these important lessons that God has given us all through His word, both in print and especially through His word that materialized in the form of one great teacher, Yeshua our Messiah, Savior, and King.

Because I don’t see into my fellow man’s heart, at first glance it would seem that both the Father and the Son did not do such a good job as our teachers. It would seem that most of their students did not pass the exam.

But, then I remember school is not finished yet, and the bell has not rung yet, and the classes are not dismissed yet, and we are all waiting for the graduation ceremony to receive our report cards from the Man dressed in white, seated on the throne, calling those sheep to go to the right and the goats to the left. Graduation is coming for all of us! Let us see how much we can get done before the final bell and the shofar sounds. Shofar so good!

Joseph Shulam: What is the Motive Behind Your Giving? [2018]

The Torah reading this Shabbat is called “Eikev”, which in English is translated “because”. These two words, one in Hebrew and the other in English, are words that carry forward the logic of the sentence in the broader context of the text.

I really believe that this Torah portion is probably the most important Torah text for the Western church today. Why?

Before I answer this question, I must state a clear disclaimer: I believe in God’s blessings and I believe in living a good life and a prosperous life in the world and eternally spent with God and with Yeshua and with all the saints of history. I don’t believe in misery or suffering to be virtues that men ought to aspire for, but I also don’t believe that a believer a disciple of Yeshua will always be rich and happy and prosperous in this world.

Lack of prosperity is not a sign of sin and punishment. It can be boot camp for the men of God, like Elijah the prophet, to train for bigger tasks and missions from God.

Now that I have said this clearly let me share with you the first message of this text from Deuteronomy. Here are the opening verses from Deuteronomy 7:12-16:

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you. Also, you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” – Deuteronomy 7:12-16 [NKJV]

If you check the rest of the word of God, always when there is a promise of blessings from God, there is also a demand for obedience. Let me share a few of these texts:

“Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.” – Deuteronomy 29:9 [NKJV]

To “keep the words of this covenant” means to do the words of the covenant. One more example from a later text:

“Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – 1 Chronicles 22:13 [NKJV]

There is a reward for doing in every camp where human beings are a community. There is never in the bible a promise for prosperity for human beings who are not obedient or not preforming their duties. There is also never a promise of prosperity for receiving grace or forgiveness for sinning or doing something wrong or bad.

There is a strange teaching or marketing or manipulation that some churches and pastors use to encourage their parishioners to give money to the church or the pastor with a promise that they will prosper and be rewarded, and their wealth will be multiplied and increased by 100%. The texts that these preachers use is taken from the Gospel of Luke. Let me bring this text here and analyze it a bit:

“Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:36–38 [NKJV]

This text from the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Luke has the right words, “give and it will be given to you!” The way this text is used today is that if you give money to the church you will prosper financially, and it will be given to you “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”

The context of this text in Luke is not giving money at all. Start with verse 36, “be merciful” – your Father also is merciful. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” And here it comes: “Give and it will be given to you…” abundantly running over, and it will be put into your bosom. This last phrase means that you will not have to work for it, it will be actually brought to you personally.  So, when you see the context all the formula follows through.

I understand it like this: whatever you sow that is what you will harvest, with God’s blessing for your doing the right thing. What does this text not say? It does not say what you give! It does not say to whom you give!

It does say that things like forgiveness, mercy, and not judging your fellow man are the things that you give and the things that God our Father will multiply to you. It could include charity of money, it could include even giving money to the church, but what it does not include or teach is that your motivation for giving in any of the above cases is to receive – good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.

The giving of good things or money with the motivation of selfish gain is exactly what this text does not teach. How do I know that to be truth? Look at the conclusion of this text in Luke 6:38:

“For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38 [NKJV]

In other words, if you give with the wrong motivation of selfish desire, what you are going to get from others will be their insincerity, in double measure, shaken together, right into your bosom. I don’t think anyone will enjoy receiving any measure of hypocrisy and insincerity.

Even to God, or especially to God, don’t give in order to gain for your selfish desires. Give to God from all your heart and with honest and faithful desire to be a blessing, without calculation of what you are going to gain for yourself. When you do this right, you will see how God will sincerely bless you in more ways than you can imagine.

Joseph Shulam: Focus on the Words [2017]

The Torah reading this Shabbat is called “Eikev”, which in English is translated “because”. These two words, one in Hebrew and the other in English, are words that carry forward the logic of the sentence in the broader context of the text.

I really believe that this Torah portion is probably the most important Torah text for the Western church today. Why?

Before I answer this question, I must state a clear disclaimer: I believe in God’s blessings and I believe in living a good life and a prosperous life in the world and eternally spent with God and with Yeshua and with all the saints of history. I don’t believe in misery or suffering to be virtues that men ought to aspire for, but I also don’t believe that a believer a disciple of Yeshua will always be rich and happy and prosperous in this world.

Lack of prosperity is not a sign of sin and punishment. It can be boot camp for the men of God, like Elijah the prophet, to train for bigger tasks and missions from God.

Now that I have said this clearly let me share with you the first message of this text from Deuteronomy. Here are the opening verses from Deuteronomy 7:12-16:

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you. Also, you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” – Deuteronomy 7:12-16 [NKJV]

If you check the rest of the word of God, always when there is a promise of blessings from God, there is also a demand for obedience. Let me share a few of these texts:

“Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.” – Deuteronomy 29:9 [NKJV]

To “keep the words of this covenant” means to do the words of the covenant. One more example from a later text:

“Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – 1 Chronicles 22:13 [NKJV]

There is a reward for doing in every camp where human beings are a community. There is never in the bible a promise for prosperity for human beings who are not obedient or not performing their duties. There is also never a promise of prosperity for receiving grace or forgiveness for sinning or doing something wrong or bad.

There is a strange teaching or marketing or manipulation that some churches and pastors use to encourage their parishioners to give money to the church or the pastor with a promise that they will prosper and be rewarded, and their wealth will be multiplied and increased by 100%. The texts that these preachers use is taken from the Gospel of Luke. Let me bring this text here and analyze it a bit:

“Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:36–38 [NKJV]

This text from the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Luke has the right words, “give and it will be given to you!” The way this text is used today is that if you give money to the church you will prosper financially, and it will be given to you “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”

The context of this text in Luke is not giving money at all. Start with verse 36, “be merciful” – your Father also is merciful. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” And here it comes: “Give and it will be given to you…” abundantly running over, and it will be put into your bosom. This last phrase means that you will not have to work for it, it will be actually brought to you personally.  So, when you see the context all the formula follows through.

I understand it like this: whatever you sow that is what you will harvest, with God’s blessing for your doing the right thing. What does this text not say? It does not say what you give! It does not say to whom you give!

It does say that things like forgiveness, mercy, and not judging your fellow man are the things that you give and the things that God our Father will multiply to you. It could include charity of money, it could include even giving money to the church, but what it does not include or teach is that your motivation for giving in any of the above cases is to receive – good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.

The giving of good things or money with the motivation of selfish gain is exactly what this text does not teach. How do I know that to be truth? Look at the conclusion of this text in Luke 6:38:

“For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38 [NKJV]

In other words, if you give with the wrong motivation of selfish desire, what you are going to get from others will be their insincerity, in double measure, shaken together, right into your bosom. I don’t think anyone will enjoy receiving any measure of hypocrisy and insincerity.

Even to God, or especially to God, don’t give in order to gain for your selfish desires. Give to God from all your heart and with honest and faithful desire to be a blessing, without calculation of what you are going to gain for yourself. When you do this right, you will see how God will sincerely bless you in more ways than you can imagine.

Yehuda Bachana: Love or Profit? The Torah Honors Both [2018]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

Shabbat Shalom. This Shabbat we read the weekly Torah portion, Parashat Eikev. The theme that repeats itself over and over throughout Deuteronomy is the request to keep the commandments of God.

Again and again Moses asks us not to turn away from the way of the Torah, not to the right or left, but to keep the Word of God with zeal.

The Book of Deuteronomy as a whole contains many reasons for which we should keep the Word of God and teach our children to keep and walk according to the Word of God forever.

An Overview of This Week’s Parasha

parashat-eikev

Yeshua’s response to being tempted can teach us much about God’s Word.

This week’s parasha quotes from Yeshua’s response to being tempted:

“…Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4b [NIV] (see also Deuteronomy 8:3b)

The verse that Yeshua quotes was spoken by Moses, to the people, after 40 years in the desert, after 40 years in which the people saw the power of God in action.

Our parasha makes a comparison between Egypt, or the nations of the world, and the Land of Israel:

“The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” – Deuteronomy 11:11-12 [NIV]

In contrast to the countries of the world, water in the Land of Israel is not guaranteed. We depend on the providence of God to provide us with rain every year and to sustain us. We, as the people of Israel, depend daily on God.

“It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” – Deuteronomy 11:12 [NIV]

We Depend on God for Food and Water

There is an important element here in understanding that God is involved in our daily lives. In the Jewish prayer service, in the winter, when there is supposed to be rain, we, the entire nation of Israel, pray daily for rain, and in the Talmud there is a complete tractate called Ta’anit, which mainly deals with fasts and prayers for rain.

When you understand the context, you can understand the fullness of the intention of Yeshua, in saying that we live on the Word of God and not on bread.

We are assured that if we keep the Word of God, there will be bread, there will be rain, and there will be blessing!

Love or Profit?

The main question that arises repeatedly throughout the Book of Deuteronomy is: The reason for the observance of the commandments (mitzvot), do we observe the commandments in order to get a reward? Or out of fear of punishment? Or out of love to God?

I would like to use the Shema prayer as a model for understanding the reason for the observance of the commandments. The Shema prayer is composed of two parts: “Shema Yisrael” and “V’haya Im Shamoa”. Last week we learned the Shema Yisrael that appeared in Deuteronomy 6, and this week we learn the second part, “So if you faithfully obey…”, which appears in Deuteronomy 11:13.

These two important passages appear in every mezuzah, and in all tefillin. This is actually the center of Torah and the center of Jewish prayer. And it tells us that there is reward and there is punishment!

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today… then I will send rain on your land in its season… so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied… so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors…” – Deuteronomy 11:13a,14,15,21a [NIV]

The words “so that” here say that the reward is not only the result of the observance of commandments, but also the reason for the observance of the commandments. It’s as if the Torah is saying to fulfill the commandments “so that” you will have a good and long life.

Our Reward in the World to Come

Yeshua teaches us, over and over, when we give charity, we must not take credit, why?

That our reward would not come as honor in this world, but as a reward in the World to Come.

Notice that Yeshua does not say there is no reward, but that there is reward. It’s just that it’s worth receiving in heaven.

Yeshua teaches us that when we fast, God forbid we will have the appearance of a person who is fasting. Again the matter of reward. And so even when we pray and actually do everything we do, we must be careful of our appearance, in order for our valuable reward to be kept in heaven.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” – Matthew 6:19a,20a [NIV]

This means there is a treasure, and there is a safe, there is reward and there is a prize, and there is a bank and there is a banker, and it is God.

It is worthwhile for a person to observe the commandments, and the great reward that a person will receive following the observance of the commandments is emphasized.

The Torah – a Means to an End?

But the Torah also warns us sternly that it is very dangerous to commit transgressions, and that whoever does so exposes himself to severe punishment.

One must ask – is this is a proper approach? That the decision to fulfill the Word of God would be based on profitability?

On the other hand, in the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6) there is no mention or question of profitability, but love for God:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” – Deuteronomy 6:5,6 [NIV]

The tension between keeping God’s Word “so that” or not “so that” has always been around. Many see the observance of the commandments “so that” as a grave flaw, and claim that a person who fulfills commandments in anticipation of reward actually serves himself rather than God.

The Importance of Doing

If we stop for a moment and think about the subject, I think we will agree that there is a fundamental flaw in the fulfillment of a commandment in order to receive a reward.

Where is the intermediate line connecting these two opposites?

The Torah and the New Testament emphasize that the main thing is to do the Word of God. Yeshua teaches us the parable of the house on the rock and the sand (Matthew 7:24).

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21 [NIV]

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24 [NIV]

The emphasis of Yeshua is not on the believer who says, “Lord, Lord”, but on the believer who “does the will of my Father who is in heaven”.

From all this I learn that what is important is to do. And that the Scriptures give legitimacy to a person who upholds the Word of God, and avoids violating prohibitions solely because of the reward and punishment before him. Perhaps it is neither desired nor ideal, but it is acceptable.

Of course, there is a desire for an ideal, in which one disconnects oneself from the interests of profit, and acts from pure love to God and serves Him truly. As we pray every Shabbat in the congregation, the same prayer that the entire Jewish world prays in the Amidah prayer:

“…purify our hearts to serve You in truth.” – Koren Siddur, Amidah prayer

In closing

As in the laws of the state, it is important to uphold the law, such as the prohibition to steal, if the thief is afraid of punishment and therefore he does not steal, it is okay and acceptable, but there is the ideal of the citizen who does not steal because it is a question of morality, and not necessarily an avoidance of punishment.

It is the same with the Word of God. The main thing is that we do it, if we’re looking for a blessing, that’s fine too.

But the ideal is to act out of love.

“Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” – Matthew 22:37-40 [NIV]

Shabbat Shalom.

Click here to download a pdf version of this teaching.
Published August 5, 2018 | Updated August 22, 2019

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