Parshas Eikev falls between the two places in the Torah where we are warned of the calamities which would befall Klal Yisroel if they turned away from Hashem. In between those readings of Parshas Bechukosai and Ki Savo we also experience Tisha B’Av, when we vividly recall and reflect on many of those warnings which came to pass on multiple occasions in our history. Conversely, Parshas Eikev begins with promises of great rewards for fulfilling Hashem’s Mitzvos. Specific blessings of ample crops, health, great families and security from our enemies are just some of the assurances given. Our Parsha gives us perhaps the greatest blessing of all, it tells us the failures of mankind which lead us to go astray. Not only does Hashem urge us to do what’s right with promises of reward, he tells us of the precise human failings which we must avoid in order to secure his Brachos.
After reminding us of all the care he gave us in the Midbar, Hashem warns “you will eat and be satisfied, build nice houses, acquire wealth and settle in the land”, (Eikev, 8:12-13). “And you may say in you heart, Kochi V’Otzem Yadi,” my strength and my work brought me all this wealth. (8:17) This is the quintessential warning which Hashem gives to us; do not fall into this trap and miss-take all of my blessings as the natural fruits of your labor. Rather, Hashem gave us the strength to produce what we need but not so we should forget the source of our strength.
Immediately after warning us of human failing #1, Hashem tells us how He will go in front of us in battle and destroy our enemies (9:3). He then warns us of Human failing #2. “Don’t say “B’Tzidkasi Heviani Hashem Loreshes es Haaretz’ ”. It is because of my righteousness that Hashem gave me this land and because of the wickedness of its prior inhabitants that they were driven out. No, Hashem reminds us that this is not the case at all. We are quickly reminded of the Eigel Hazahav, (9:21) the Meraglim (9:23) and our other failings as a people. We, in fact, are a “stiff necked” people. Hashem loves us because of our ancestors Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov, with whom he made his covenant. (9:5)
Yet, Hashem makes sure to tell us of the two human failings which lead us to our errors. Arrogance and arrogance. One where we actually think that we are the producers of good and worthy of the credit, the other where we believe that our Brachos come from Hashem but that we are deserving of those Brachos. Parshas Eikev makes it very clear that Zchus Avos is the real reason why Hashem took us into Eretz Yisroel when we were undeserving. Yet, Zchus Avos seems to go quite a bit further. Hashem clearly wants us to merit his Brachos on our own. He tells us what we must and must not do. He even tells us of our own “prewired” shortcomings which cause us to fall short. Zchus Avos seems to have imparted one more amazing gift, Hashem’s love. Hashem wants us to do what’s right. He not only tells us what and how but also which traps not to fall into.