Parashas Eiekv is deceptively simple. Follow the Torah and you will be greatly rewarded. Disobey the laws and you will be severely punished. Yet, Hashem, in His infinite mercy, offers us hope, even after we have sinned and been exiled from the Land. The Torah states (Devarim 11:18) וְשַׂמְתֶּם אֶת דְּבָרַי אֵלֶּה עַל לְבַבְכֶם וְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶם וּקְשַׁרְתֶּם אֹתָם לְאוֹת עַל יֶדְכֶם וְהָיוּ לְטוֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֵיכֶם, you shall place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul; you shall bind them for a sign upon your arm and let them be an ornament between your eyes. Rashi writes that that even after you will be exiled, you should be outstanding in the commandments. Place Tefillin, make Mezuzos, so that the mitvzos should not be new to you when you return to the Land. This statement begs a question. Do the Jews really need to be reminded to keep the mitzvos while in exile? True, we perform the mitzvos in a more ideal state while in Eretz Yisroel, but for most of history we have been in exile, so why does the Torah need to remind us of our obligations? Furthermore, why does the Torah specifically mention this exhortation regarding the mitzvah of Tefillin?
The answer to these questions is that while we certainly need no reminders that HaShem is our Creator and that we are His children, we need to remember our connection to Eretz Yisroel. The commentators (based on Rashi Bereishis 30:8) write that the word תפילין is associated with the word נַפְתּוּלֵי, which means to be connected. We bind Tefillin on our arms and on our heads to remind us of our connection to HaShem. The Baal HaTurim (Devarim 6:10) writes that the Torah juxtaposes the mitzvos of Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzah to the idea of entering Eretz Yisroel to teach us that in the merit of those mitzvos we will enter the Land. It is noteworthy that the Sefarim write that Sichon and Og correspond to Tefillin Shel Yad and Tefillin Shel Rosh and I once heard from Rav Yisroel Dovid Schlesinger, Shlita, of Monsey, NY, that Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven, who inherited land in Transjordan, symbolize the Mezuzos of Eretz Yisroel. It is profound that specifically these tribes symbolized this strength of the Jewish People, as it is said regarding the tribe of Gad (Devarim 33:20) וְטָרַף זְרוֹעַ אַף קָדְקֹד, tearing off arm and even head. This alludes to the connection that we have to the Land through Tefillin Shel Yad and Tefillin Shel Rosh.
Thus, we see that it is specifically the mitzvah of Tefillin that facilitates our entry into and our tenure in Eretz Yisroel. While we are required to fulfill all of HaShem’s cherished mitzvos, the mitzvah of Tefillin specifically is a constant reminder of our connection to HaShem, His Torah and His Holy Land.
In the merit of fulfilling all of HaShem’s mitzvos we should merit a strong connection to Him and to His Torah, and then HaShem will have compassion on His Beloved Nation and send us Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days!
Have a Strongly Connected Shabbos!