Parashat Ekev

Helping a Stranger

Breaking down emotional barriers to empathy.

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We Are All Connected

But this inclination is flawed and the Torah comes to tell us so. In a global economy we are all inextricably interconnected. Our mundane daily decisions--what we buy and eat, the kind of car we drive, the things we throw away--affect every other living creature on earth.

The sense of distance that we create is an emotional barrier to empathy. We have many ways of rationalizing our lack of action. Parashat Ekev helps remind us that this is not an acceptable response. In the parashah, God asks us to remove the emotional barriers that hold us back from doing what is right and just: "Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your hearts and stiffen your necks no more" (Deuteronomy 10:16). Our work is to open our hearts to the recognition of our interconnectedness. Toward this end, there is no shortcut.

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Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald

Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald has served as the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation HEA in Denver, CO since his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles in 2008. Rabbi Gruenwald blogs at http://rabbisalomon.blogspot.com.