G-d communicates with us all the time. The Ba’al Shem Tov brought this simple truth to life with his famous teaching: “There is not one leaf that falls from a tree that is not divinely ordained.” The idea that G-d is constantly engaged with our world is a not new concept; but sometimes it feels that way to me.
This morning I was reminded that in addition to leaves and people and actual life knocking-at-your-door kind of experiences, G-d also communicates with us through His Torah. There are some weekly portions that I attach to like paper to paste. Others rub little rougher around my edges and force me to stretch myself to understand their meaning. But regardless of my internal process, my experience of Torah, especially through a Chassidic lens, is a lot like what Bob Marley said about music: “When it hits you, you feel no pain.”
This week’s Torah portion is called “Eikev.” A word which translates to both “because” and “heel.” The general sentiment of Eikev is about serving G-d with the full-out physicality and grounded-ness of our heels while ultimately pursuing a life of truth and connection that extends far beyond the limits of self just “because.”
(Full text here if you want to dive in)
For example, I brush my teeth because I want a sparkly smile and healthy chops. I fill up my tank because I don’t want to run out of gas. So much of what I do and who I am is contingent on something else. Our lives are filled with things we do because of other things.
And, there is another part of self that functions independent of reason; an inner mechanism that is not motivated by intention or feeling. This aspect is as stable and as well rooted as the “heel;” an innate reflex and a unique structure that allows us to perform for the sake of truths beyond reason and understanding.
This week’s portion is filled with beautiful prose about both the oneness of G-d and the limitations of humanity. Eikev asks us to take all that narrowness of self and use it to attach to a truth higher than ourselves. Eikev implores us to love G-d with all our heart and all of our might because He asks us to and also … just because.
In other words we are asked to dig our heels into the hard, dry ground of faith, truth and ultimate purpose – with specific goals in mind, and also “just ‘cuz.”
This lesson speaks to my guts. It says: “Take all the purpose that you seek and hang it on something way bigger… Hang it on me.” G-d says. “Because I’ve got some big plans and also, because I’m G-d, that’s why.”
Parshat Eikev asks us to embrace both the parts of G-d and self that we get and the parts we don’t get with equal passion and commitment. From where I’m sitting, in Israel today, after the pounding we have endured and the strength and unity we embody as a people despite all odds and reason… this dichotomy makes perfect sense to me.
Maybe Martina McBride was inspired by this very same idea back in 2006 when she co-wrote a brilliant song called “Anyway” (listen/watch here). I think it encapsulates the above sentiment just about perfectly.
I hope these words and ideas reach you well. I and I hope you are doing life well because you are in the pursuit of great things… and also just because.
Shabbat shalom friends.