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Rabbi's Blog: Mazel Tov, Mitzvot, and More...

08/18/2022 11:56:46 AM


Dear OZ family,


Now it’s Esti and Aaron’s turn. This has been an amazing summer of Simcha in our family. First, the birth of Menachem Mendel Schwartz, then the Bat Mitzva of Meira Bloom, then the birth of Shalev Tzvi Zolty, and now the birth of baby girl Feldman. We’d like to invite everyone to a Kiddush this Shabbos, at OZ, as we will name the newest member of our family.  


The first comment of Rashi to Parshat Ekev points out the importance of the attention we need to pay to the Mitzvot, over which we tend to tread. “Ekev” is an unusual word to use in the context of listening to God’s word. Rashi’s comment points to the pun of Ekev, meaning “heel”. The plain meaning of the verse reads as if to say, on the heels of obeying God, these wonderful things will happen. Since the Torah is usually quite economical in its verbiage Rashi wonders why the Parsha didn’t just start, “If you obey God…”


This is how Rashi connects to the importance of reading the small print and guarding the details and even the minutiae of the Mitzvot. The Mitzvot that stare at our heads, are the deeds that are more popular with observant Jews. They include the Mitzvot of Aseret Hadibrot, Mitzvot like keeping Kosher and observing Shabbat and the holidays. But there are also many Mitzvot that we sometimes tread over and treat with less importance. This may include the prohibition against slander, or checking our clothes for Shatnez, and putting a mezuzah on all the doors that need it, in a timely fashion.  These comprise some of the details that also characterize an observant Jewish life. This is something every new parent can certainly appreciate. Someone who is profoundly needy and vulnerable is in our care, and they need constant attention, without an ability to tell us what it is they actually need at the moment. Most of the time it’s their food, but it can also be that they are wet, or soiled, or too hot, or too cold, or it’s too noisy.


A newborn really gets us to appreciate the “Ekev” aspect of our existence. May all the new parents pay careful attention to all the new details of their lives, while recognizing the incredible miracles and blessings bestowed upon them from above.


Stay well and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz    



Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635





Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784