The Small Things
Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today. If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. —Deuteronomy 7:11-12
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25.
When my husband and I were engaged to be married, we decided to take a course at our synagogue on creating a healthy marriage and a faith-filled home. In one of the talks, the rabbi explained that after meeting hundreds of couples over the years, he noticed a theme in good marriages that surprised him. It was never the big things that made or broke a marriage. It always came down to the small things.
Unhappy spouses said things like, “He is always late for our dinner dates when he knows I’m sitting there waiting for him.” Or conversely, happy spouses said, “She makes me a sandwich every day because she knows I hate doing that, and she even takes off the crust because she knows I never eat it!” Evidently, concluded the rabbi, when it comes to loving relationships, it’s the small things that matter most.
This week’s Torah portion begins, “Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws...” In this verse, the word “therefore” is eikev in Hebrew. The Jewish sages noted that this was an unusual choice of word because there is another layer of meaning conveyed by the word eikev.
Eikev also means “heel,” as in the heel of a foot. The verse implores us to pay attention to the small things when it comes to serving God — things we might otherwise tread upon with our heel. When we are careful about doing the little things for God, it is an expression of great love, just as when a spouse thinks of the small things that his or her partner likes.
The little ways we can serve God come in many forms. It could be spending extra time each day expressing gratitude for all He has given us, or it may be going out of our way to spend time with someone lonely. It could be a friendly smile or a moment of contemplation. We aren’t required to do any of these things; rather, we do them out of love.
When we dedicate our lives to doing all these small things for God, watch how He takes care of all of the big things for us!
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