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Parashat Eikev - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Eikev. It is the second of seven weeks between Tisha b'Av and Rosh Hahsanah, known as the seven Sabbaths of consolation.

Last week's Parasha contained the first chapter of the Shema that we are all familiar with. It is where we are called upon to "Love your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might." That chapter does not mention any rewards for loving G-d and for keeping the commandments.

This week's portion includes the second chapter that is part of the Shema in our daily liturgy. The second chapter describes the rewards for keeping the law and for loving G-d, and it also lists the terrible consequences if we should stray from keeping the Mitzvot.

There is a term in the Talmud known as 'Lishmah' or 'Shello Lishmah'. 'Lishmah' is when someone does something good for its own sake. 'Shello Lishmah' is when one does something good for the promised reward or when one refrains from doing something bad because of the feared punishment.

There is merit in both, according to the Talmud. Our sages say that there is merit in doing something good even if it is 'Shello Lishma', not for its own sake, because from 'Shello Lishma', one will at some point start doing things for 'Lishmah', for its own sake. Doing Mitzvot, whether attending services, performing acts of kindness, etc. is an ongoing path that we must follow throughout our life. It is OK if it is not always a 'Lishma' act, as long as we do it.

Let's hope that we can someday reach the level where all our good deeds are done for 'Lishma', just like we are commanded in the first verse of the Shema; "Love your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might."

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram