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Shabbat Parashat Eikev 5772

Parashat Hashavuah: Lest Your Heart Will Be Haughty and You Will Forget

A Derasha from 1948 - Harav Shaul Yisraeli - from Siach Shaul, pg. 490-491

In this week’s parasha, Moshe Rabbeinu spoke about two different dangers related to the entry into Eretz Yisrael. One is the question: “How will I be able to conquer them?” (Devarim 7:17). The other is “Lest … your heart will be haughty and you will forget Hashem, your G-d, who took you out of the Land of Egypt … and you will say in your heart: ‘My strength and the power of my hand made for me all this success’” (ibid. 8:14-17).

Less than a year ago, the danger was the question of “How will we be able …?” Even after the United Nations’ vote to grant us statehood, we still had doubts in our hearts. How would we be able to overcome all of the treacherous tactics and overwhelming forces that stand against us? A wondrous, miraculous thing happened, which we could not have anticipated. If we evaluate the accomplishments in the war against the losses, we have to conclude that the successes were far, far greater than the disappointments. As a matter of fact, the greatest successes were accomplished in battles where the cost in human lives was small.

There was actually a second wonder in this regard, beside the victory itself. It is the fact that we did lose our composure or, for the most part, ask: “How will we be able?” Not only would it have made sense to ask the question, but it even would have made sense to answer that, indeed, we are not capable of succeeding.

However, now we are standing before the second danger: “your heart will be haughty and you will forget.” Since so many of us lack proper belief in Hashem, the victory can turn, in the nation’s eyes, from a miracle into a cause for an exaggerated feeling of national accomplishment. We may feel an undesirable dose of self-pride at our strength, wisdom, and valor.

We should note the Torah’s connecting between haughtiness and forgetting Hashem. The haughtiness comes specifically when one forgets. We need to read now the words of the people who set our policies then, such as [Abba Hillel] Silver and Ben Gurion and consider the mood of despair in the army headquarters on the day the State was declared. We should remember the messages that recall the bad news that Iyov received, at a time when we had no tools with which to save ourselves, and think about how ‘David stood up against Goliath.’ If we do this, we will understand that the salvation came from Hashem’s assistance. Such a realization will save us from the second danger, of haughtiness and forgetting. We should consider the precious human sacrifices that we had to offer and understand that that which we acquired through those sacrifices should not be broken up into small pieces.

“Now, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask from you, but to fear … and to love …” (ibid. 10:12). The basic demand is for fear of Heaven and to recognize the reliable Divine Providence. It also says that we are to love Hashem, and not just to love Him but to cause Him to be loved by others. We must be vigilant for the honor of the Encampment of the Divine Presence and make it beloved based on our paths and actions.  

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Hemdat Yamim

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R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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