Have No Fear of Obstacles: Parashat Ekev

We find our illustrious heroes, the Israelite people. They are at the edge of the land, not yet into Israel. For the last few weeks in the Torah, and for most of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses has been preaching to the people. He is terrified and desperate for the people to know what they are to do and how they are to act once they are in the land.

At one point, he asks the people a rhetorical question, as all rabbis are want to do from time to time:

“For if you say, how will I be able to remove them [from the land]?”

Moses is placing himself in the shoes of his people. He recognizes that they must also be nervous of the task that is before them. They are going to have to conquer the land! Clearly they will be afraid.

But, Moses says to them,

“Do not fear them [the people in the land].”

Simply and succinctly, he tells them not to be concerned. But there is a deeper truth here, uncovered my one of my favorite Hasidic rebbes.

Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was a Hasidic rebbe, who unsurprisingly, hailed from Berditchev in Russia and lived in the late 1700s and early 1800s. His teachings are collected in a book titled, Kedushat Levi, the holiness of Levi. It is a great read and I’m sure you’ll hear about it again from me. In any case, Reb Levi says the following:

When we are on our way to do avodat hashem, God’s work, or let’s just say, to do the right thing. When we are on that path, we will undoubtably encounter obstacles. Those are a part of life. When we come up against them, we will be afraid. That fear, just like that of the people of Israel, is a barrier unto itself. Reb Levi goes on to say that, when we are on the right path, our fear and our obstacles cannot prevent us from accomplishing our goal. When we are seeking to act in the world that bring’s God’s holiness and makes the world a better, healthier, happier, more love filled place, then there are no obstacles that can truly stop us.

This is a good truth for us as well. We will always encounter obstacles when we walk through the world. We must not fear them and continue to push forward.

I know that you can do it, and I’m going to try too.