God instructs the people of Israel to love God and to walk in all God’s ways.  In other words, the people are to obey all God’s commandments.

Basically, God says that the people are being brought into a fertile land, where there will be rains in due season.  People will harvest grain, new wine and oil.  There will be grass in the fields for their animals to eat.

But if the people turn away from God and fail to follow the commandments, God will get angry.  There will be drought and people will die.

This section of Eikev is known as V’haya im Shamoa, and is included in the daily and Shabbat morning service in traditional prayer books right after the Shema and V’ahavta prayers.  It was left out of the 1945 Reconstructionist prayer book, but was put back in.  Why? To remind us that our own actions can affect the ecosystem.  Just look at the droughts and fires happening now, in the summer of 2022 – the result of climate change.

Here’s the commentary in the prayer book: “In the light of our awareness of the human abuse of the environment, we recognize that often this reward and punishment rest in our own hands…The Torah urges us to choose life.”

Food for Thought

The Torah says disaster will come if the children of Israel do not act to obey God’s commandments.  The prayer book says disaster will come if people do not act to protect the environment.  How are these two ideas related?

the people of Israel were led to a land of grain, new wine and oil
Pereoptic, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons