והיה עקב תשמעון את המשפטים האלה, ושמרתם ועשיתם אותם ושמר ה' אלקיך לך את הברית ואת החסד אשר נשבע לאבותיך.
“And it will be because you are listening to these laws, and you will keep them and fulfill them; Hashem will guard the covenant and the kindness to you that He swore to your ancestors.” (Devarim 7:12)
The verse uses the expression “eikav – because you listen” instead of the word “im – if you will listen,” which would seem more in place. What is the significance of the word eikav?
Furthermore, why does the verse mention our ancestors when we are being reminded to keep all the mitzvos?
There is another verse in the Torah where the word eikav is used: “Eikav - because Avrohom listened to My voice.” (Bereishis 26:5) Hashem declared that He loves Avrohom because he “instructs his children and his household to keep the ways of Hashem.” Our sages learned from these words that Avrohom kept the entire Torah, even though the Torah had not yet been given to mankind. How indeed was Avrohom able to keep the Torah if it had not been revealed to mankind? How did he know all of the mitzvos?
This could be explained with the following parable: A wise person found a beautiful plot of land in an uncultivated area, at the outskirts of a village inhabited by simple folk. He thought the location would be ideal for a magnificent palace that would be used by the royal family. He immediately got to work building the palace.
First he drew up plans, and then a crew of laborers began digging the foundation. The neighbors were most dismayed at all the noise and the damage to the site. “Why are you digging a huge hole in this beautiful plot of land?” they demanded to know. “Why are you destroying our beautiful village?”
The wise person paid them no heed, but continued laying the foundation. Then he brought skilled craftsmen who cut huge wooden boards to construct the inner walls of the palace. “Why are you destroying all this wood?” the disgruntled villagers wanted to know. The wise person paid them no heed and continued his work. When the palace was finally completed, it was a sight to behold. The magnificent domes, archways and terraces captured everyone’s attention. The villagers finally realized why all the digging and cutting was necessary. They fully agreed that the effort, noise and dirt were well worth the results.
The same is true about our world. Hashem created the universe with a goal, and He created our physical world to have a “residence down below.” Hashem has all the plans; we are like the simple villagers who have no idea what is being built. Why all this digging? Why all the pain and suffering? Why all the difficulties and troubles? Sometimes we think that if we were to run this world, we would iron out all of the bumps and hardships. But Hashem, the Master Designer, knows what He’s doing. He knows what is being built and He knows what the world must go through in order to get there. His wisdom encompasses everything; there is nothing hidden from Him.
The blueprint of creation is the Torah. The Torah contains all of the secrets about the universe; the secrets about all this digging, cutting and building. Only those who are truly steeped in Torah can catch a glimpse of the future and discover the secret design that is being created.
Avrohom yearned for truth. He yearned to discover Hashem and he plowed the depths of his intellect to find a reason for the world’s existence. Avrohom understood that the world has a Master, a King, a Boss who oversees every detail of its operation. Avrohom’s deepest desire was to serve his Creator whom he discovered with his own intellect. He searched for a means to serve Him.
The word eikav also means “end.” Avrohom, with his great honesty and deep intellect, was able to perceive the end-result of creation. He was able to comprehend the purpose of creation, and thus he was able to figure out the Torah. Since he glimpsed the design of the “palace,” he automatically understood its blueprint. He understood that the world was created for the benefit of mankind, and this helped him discover the mitzvos, which are all for our benefit. He wasn’t content with keeping the Torah, but he wanted his children and all future generations to follow the path of truth. He bequeathed us a legacy of faith in Hashem, faith in the purpose of creation and in the secrets of the universe.
Back to our original verse, the Torah says: “Vehaya – and it will be.” The word vehaya used in the verse has a joyous connotation. This shows us that those who “are listening to these laws” are full of joy. Those who constantly question Hashem are always bitter and unhappy, because they do not understand why certain things happen. However, those who trust the Designer lead happy, joyous lives. This is so because eikav – they “listen to the End.” They are attuned to what will happen at the End of Days, when Moshiach will come. They are full of hope because of the promises they received, that when Moshiach will come there will be only happiness and joy in the world. This is the end design, and all the hardships we are experiencing until then are part of the building process. True, there is a lot of noise and dirt, but the results that will come about are well worth it!
People who live their lives with their hearts turned towards the eikav – the End of times, lead happier lives. They don’t need immediate answers to their questions; they are confident that everything will become clear to them when the “palace” will finally be completed. When Moshiach will come we will look back and understand the reason for all of our struggles and tribulations. Everything will become crystal clear to us.
The Torah’s promise now has a special meaning to us: “It will be (joyous connotation) when you focus on the End of days,” that you will find the strength to “keep them and fulfill” the laws. When we remind ourselves that everything has a purpose, that there is a Master Design that is being developed right now, we are infused with renewed stamina to follow the blueprint and keep the mitzvos with joy. And then, “Hashem will guard the covenant and the kindness to you that He swore to your ancestors.” Hashem will bless us, just as He blessed our ancestor Avrohom, who was the first person to teach mankind to trust Hashem with one’s entire being – to trust the Master Designer.