And behold, following [in Hebrew, "ekev"] the edicts which you heard... (Deut. 7:12)

Rashi explains that the word "ekev" literally means "heel". He says that this verse is referring to the easy and habitual mitzvot that a person may sometimes feel are unimportant and therefore metaphorically treads upon with his heel. It is our job to be careful with all of the mitzvot, even the easy ones, so that our whole bodies - from head to heel - are serving G‑d.

Our faith is so strong we can serve G‑d even in our relative blindness….

The beginning words "Ekev tishmi'un" can be translated as "the heel will be heard". Each new generation is compared to the heel of a foot while previous generations are considered like "heads". Because they were closer to the source, earlier generations were capable of fulfilling mitzvot with higher levels of spiritual understanding to which we are mostly oblivious. Nevertheless, our deeds are "heard", as the verse affirms. G‑d accepts the mitzvot of our generation as if we, too, had the higher spiritual consciousness. This is because we have a strength earlier generations did not have. Our faith is so strong we can serve G‑d even in our relative blindness.

From a different perspective, our era is also dubbed "the footheels of Mashiach", referring to the period of time immediately preceding Mashiach's arrival. During this era, it was foretold, perception of G‑dly revelation will be reduced, and that people will fulfill mitzvot by "accepting the Heavenly yoke" even with only minimal understanding. However, this in itself is an act of great merit. Mashiach's arrival will be hastened because of the great self sacrifice required of us.

Our lowly generation is the one who will usher in the final redemption….

There is another way to explain the expression of "the heel [or 'the last or end'] will be heard". Later in the portion, commenting on the verse: "All the commandment that I command you today, be careful to do it..." (Deut. 8:1), Rashi derives the concept that the one who completes a mitzvah ("all of the commandment"), is credited with it. He explains that it was the Jews who entered the Land after 40 years who were credited with the mitzvah of burying Joseph. This was despite the fact that Moses alone was initially responsible for retrieving Joseph's body and taking it to Israel. The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that similarly, one might also think that the previous, higher generations would be credited with the final, impending redemption, because of their elevated service of G‑d, incomparably greater than our own. Nevertheless, we learn from here that our lowly generation is the one who will usher in the final redemption, and thus will receive the credit. The heel will be heard.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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