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The zechus of keeping “easy” mitzvos, the “small” ones people generally trample on with their heels


“And it will follow that because you listen to these laws and keep them and do them, Hashem will uphold for you the bris and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers.”

(Devarim 7:12)


ashi comments that the literal translation of the word eikev — used in the pasuk here to mean “because” — means a heel. This alludes to the zechus of keeping “easy” mitzvos, the “small” ones that people generally trample on with their heels. Such mitzvos are links in a chain. (Based on the Sfas Emes)

“There should be Minchah here.”

My husband swung the car into the pitted, small parking lot. Sure enough, it seemed like the entire male population of Eretz Yisrael had gathered for Minchah at this tiny gas station in the Golan. My boys jumped out in a scramble for hats and jackets and then loped over to the crowd to begin Ashrei. I was left in the car with Shloime and two baby grandchildren. For a moment I basked in the sudden quiet.

Then Shloime started up. “I also want to go! I want to run around!”

As if on cue, my grandson started crying, prompting my granddaughter to wail as well.

I glanced at my watch. I too needed to daven Minchah and I doubted I’d make it before shkiah by the time the men finished.

“Here, Shloime, have some Bamba. Mommy’s going to daven, and if the babies cry, you pop a pacifier in their mouths. Then when I finish, we’ll all go running near that creek.” I gestured to a shady river near the lot.

I quieted the babies, handed Shloime the Bamba and began davening. No sooner had I started Shemoneh Esreh than Shloime finished his Bamba and wanted more, and the babies chimed in with their harmony.

I pointed to the Bamba, then the pacifiers, trying to gesture and convince my trio that salvation was right next to them. They were not convinced. Shloime’s wants grew louder, and the babies’ wails competed in decibel level. I barely managed one of the quicker Shemoneh Esrehs of my life.

I felt so lousy afterwards. I should have davened earlier, should have set things up better. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve . But that Minchah was gone, out of my reach.

The purpose of mitzvos is to connect man to His Creator and to subsequently pull all of the world’s creations higher spiritually. Everything in this world was created with this inner purpose of connecting to Hashem, and it’s man’s tafkid to pull those creations closer to Him with mitzvos.

I remembered years ago when I had two little toddlers and a baby, how none of them appreciated when Mommy took the time to connect to a Higher Being than them.

In desperation, I asked our rav if as a mother I should be davening Minchah at all.

The rav responded, “Do you want to daven Minchah?”

Put on the spot, I realized that yes, I do want to! I’d hate to give it up. So he told me to continue to try to get that tefillah in every day if I could. Still, this afternoon’s fiasco seemed to belittle that yearning of mine.

An “easier” mitzvah offers a unique opportunity; as a link in the chain, it can pull up all the other links, including the “harder” or “heavier” mitzvos, allowing them all to reach Hashem Yisbarach, bringing us higher and closer to Hashem.

The next afternoon found us at Meron, the kever of Rav Shimon bar Yochai. This time I set up Shloime with a huge bag of treats and my grandchildren were being cared for by their mothers.

I ventured closer to the kever, and as I began Minchah, the zechus of being in this makom kadosh, coupled with the tragedy that had taken place the year before, hit me powerfully, and I burst into tears. I davened Minchah slowly, each word meaningful, so intense a tefillah that I hadn’t managed in ages.

As I walked slowly back into the sunshine and back to my regular life, I had a sudden vision of today’s Minchah, the bright  little engine of a train, with many tefillos as train cars behind it, and yesterday’s Minchah the caboose, being pulled higher and higher.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 806)

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