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D’var Torah: Parashat Eikev

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When people call you ‘a chip off the old block’, would you believe that the precedent for this phrase lies in this week’s haftarah? In his D’var Torah for this week, the Chief Rabbi explores the surprising origins of a highly popular English phrase. You can find a full transcript below.

‘A chip off the old block’ is an English saying which is taken from the haftarah of Parashat Eihev. There, the prophet Isaiah declares Habitu el Tzur Chutzavtem, look to the rock from which you were hewn, Habitu el Avraham Avichem v’el Sarah ticholalchem, Look to Avraham your father and Sara who gave birth to you.

So here we as a nation are being encouraged to consider ourselves as being little stones, taken from that original huge rock: the founders of our faith, Avraham and Sara. We are called upon to emulate them, to follow their ways of loving kindess, of absolute dedication to the word of Hashem and also to a burning desire to guarantee that their tradition would be passed on faithfully through to the generations to come.

‘In the same way as a stone is indestructible in the face of natural elements, so too our tradition is indestructible’

The Hebrew word even is a composite term made up of two words, Av and Ben, father and son. In the same way as a stone is indestructible in the face of natural elements, so too our tradition is indestructible when it is faithfully passed on from parents to children through the generations.

This was the dream of Avraham and Sara; they desperately wanted a child, and through that child they wanted to convey and preserve the beauty of their faith that they were privileged to have. In striving to be chips off the old block, let us two guarantee that we walk in their ways to be filled with great emunah, faith in G-d, wonderful and outstanding compassion towards others and a total commitment to guarantee that our wonderful Jewish tradition, through us, will be preserved for all time.

Shabbat Shalom.