Eikev: The Consequences of Listening

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
2 min readAug 14, 2022

Life is a series of choices and consequences. We experience this truth today, just as Moses experienced it thousands of years ago. Now, in the midst of the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), best understood as Moses’ ethical will, we hear the distilled lessons of a prophet desperate to see his people succeed once he no longer walks with them. Moses, the last survivor of the Exodus, has seen things that others have not. He understands the notion of choice and consequence in ways they cannot. Open, raw, exposed, and unprotected, he approaches his people, hoping that when he “finally flies away, he will have served them well.”[1]

In passing the duty of leadership to Joshua, Moses closes one chapter of our People’s history, and prays for the successful opening of the next. And so, the opening words of Parashat Eikev is both a promise and a warning: “And it will happen as a consequence of your listening.”[2]

We are here re-introduced to the privilege and responsibility of partnering with God in the pursuit of promise. The land is promised, yes, but not unconditionally. We must do our part if we are to endure. To this day, there are mitzvot, commandments, only possible in Israel. The land gives us more obligations, and in so doing, more opportunities to be made holy through our fulfillment of them. According to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, transmitted through the writing of his daughter Professor Susannah Heschel, “…the land itself not holy… but is the site for holiness to be created… ‘We do not worship the soil.’”[3]

What choices will we make, knowing that our decisions not only affect us but generations after us too, that our very existence on this soil is on the line? And the wisdom we pass to our children is not only in our spoken word. We must live the choices we want them to make, model listening, and manage our choices accordingly. No action is neutral. There are always consequences.

We must be mindful of our decisions and consider how we teach and talk and act, if we are to be part of building the society and world we yearn to see. It is clearer than ever today how interdependent we all are. From news to germs, everything travels. Consider your great-great-grandchildren. Consider mine. Every future child is a world worthy of our careful consideration. Think of the stories you want told about you.

It can happen — it will happen — as a consequence of your listening.

[1] Rod Stewart, Forever Young (1988), adapted

[2] Deut. 7:12

[3] Israel: An Echo of Eternity, Introduction (p. xxiii)

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