The First Step Through The Door

Jul 25th, 2013 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
It’s not surprising that the portion immediately following Shema – Hear/Listen, begins, “This shall be the reward when you carefully listen to these ordinances.” I wonder about the Hebrew name of the portion, Eikev. When I see that word, that translates as, “heel,” I immediately think of Adam’s, Eve’s, and the Serpent’s. consequences and punishments (yes, there are both) for their part in the sin: listening to the Serpent, running when they heard God’s voice, and Adam’s listening to the voice of his wife, all these mentions of listening and hearing, and the first place we find the word, “Eikev,” as in, “He will pound your head, and you will bite his, Akeiv,” heel (Genesis 3:15).”

It’s therefore not surprising that the next time we find an Eikev it is also associated with listening, “Eikev, because Abraham hear the inside of My voice (26:5).”

Somehow, proper listening, fixes the Eikev, or at least repairs, some of the damage of the first misguided listening.

Elise Ballard, chose from all the many reflections in her book, “epiphany!” a quote from Kristin Neff, the founder of the Horse Boy Foundation as the epigraph:

“The epiphany was like life opened a doorway, and my job was to walk through it. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

I didn’t know what was going to happen.

But in life, you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.

What I do know is that as life continues to open these doors, I feel safe enough and trusting enough to walk through them.”


I see the poison of the snake’s bite on the Eikev as the inability to walk through the doorways opened in life when we carefully listen to life’s messages and lessons. Adam and Eve were unable to appreciate the message when “they heard God’s voice walking in the Garden.” They ran and hid, rather than run toward God, Who still spoke to them in the most open way.

Abraham was the consummate listener to such messages and bravely walked through every door opened to him. The opening verse in this portion is to remind us to emulate Abraham, and use the Shema skills we developed in the previous portion, to hear enough from the commandments we observe to gain the safety and trust necessary to take that first step through the doorway of opportunity.

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