The heel is that upon which everything else rests

BY RABBI JAMES STONE GOODMAN

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Ekev

And it shall come to pass

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because [ekev] you listen to these ordinances [Ibn Ezra: if you listen]

and keep and do them

God will keep the covenant and the mercy

sworn to your ancestors. [Deut. 7:12]

Ekev

Because

the mystery of the uncommon conjunction

something a preposition might admire

ekev also connotes heel

it refers to those acts

ordinarily not paid attention to [Midrash Tanhuma 1]

those that are thrown under our heels

so to speak.

Rashi calls them the light ones

the ones that might not attract our attention

the unglamorous deeds.

There are no unglamorous deeds.

Even the conjunctions of the mitzvah world —

their lovely low-li-ness.

Every generation is a heel generation

every person a heel person

everything previous rests on us

every act every word every gesture

contributes inscrutably

to now,

this day.

We are the heel on which everything rests —

everything counts in some ultimate way

as hidden as the heel that supports

the weight of our bodies.

Everything turns on the lowly conjunction ekev

be a conjunction for a while

be a preposition

an article.

What you did and what you didn’t do

what you remembered and what you forgot

what you honored and what you desecrated

it all rests on the heel of your generation

maybe on you yourself

and one day it may be clear that everything

every single thing preceding

was necessary

everything contributes

the big the small the good the bad

the beautiful the lowly the lofty

the intentions

the mistakes

all of it.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman, of Congregation Neve Shalom, is a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association.