The portion of Ekev starts with the words vehaya Ekev tishmaun, which means ‘if’, or ‘when you will listen’ (and, subsequently, act in accordance with the rules and regulations of the universe so that good things will come upon you).
I remember that Rav Berg explained this verse in a different way. The word Ekev (עקב) actually means the ‘sole of the foot’. As a matter of fact, Yaakov (יעקב- Jacob) was called this because he was born holding his brother’s foot.
The Rav referred to the Zohar: in the portion of Chayei Sarah (verse 21) it says that “whoever is small is big, and whoever is big is small”. The meaning of this is that when people act upon their selfish desires and use that negativity to accumulate power or control over others, they will end up losing everything. Conversely, people that are able to control their egos take themselves out of the equation, meriting lots of responsibility and power in their hands for the sake of sharing.
With this in mind, listen to what the Light is trying to tell us, day in and day out. Try achieving the level of a sole, eliminating the noise of the ego (Me! Me! Me!!!!).
An example of this ‘less is more’ concept that I’ve heard many times from the Rav has to do with intercontinental telephone cables. These cables used to be 10 feet wide and could only handle a few dozen calls at a time, but around the beginning of the 21st century they were replaced with fiber optic cables, hair-thin wires able to transmit thousands of calls simultaneously.
It is becoming clear that less is more when it comes to modern technology. Witness the new age of nano-robots and cloud computing. The big question is: How long will it take for us to understand that less should be more in other aspects of our lives?
I have been ‘stationed’ in Brazil for the last 5 years, and as you may know if you’ve been watching the news lately, Brazil has gone through a bit of unrest lately. At one point I saw someone holding a sign; the first part said: “Evolved countries are not countries where POOR people drive cars”. I didn’t agree so much; what’s the problem with poor people having their own cars? But then I read the second part that actually made a lot of sense: “Evolved countries are countries where RICH people use public transportation”.
We have become so consumed with consumption that when the Light comes to us in simple ways – a chirp of a bird, a smile of a child – we are many times unable to appreciate it because we’re too busy.
It is often difficult to explain who the Rav is to someone that got to know him only after the stroke. I hope you have all read the Rav’s book Education of a Kabbalist, which tells the story of the very special relationship the Rav had with his teacher, Rav Brandwein, and the responsibility that Rav Brandwein passed on to the Rav.
Imagine that your Kabbalah teacher, your spiritual guide, your best friend and beloved master, departs from this world and leaves you all alone with a mission: Go share the wisdom of Kabbalah with the world. Not mentioned is that no one will listen or support you in any way… Luckily, the Rav ‘found’ Karen a year later and they now had each other to lean on when things got tough (which they did).
I think we will never appreciate the work of the Rav and Karen enough, BUT, even though today there is a Kabbalah Centre near you, or you can go online and connect, there is still so much to do, so much Light to be revealed…
Hope to see you all in Anaheim for Rosh Hashanah, you will probably find me with a big group of Brazilians singing and dancing during the meals!