To my dear son,
The Torah uses the word “Ekev – heel” to introduce the brachot and reward which Am Yisrael will receive if they “hearken and follow the ordinances” of Hashem; this usage is peculiar.
One can explain the word literally; committing to the mitzvoth begins with “Ekev – the heel”, as it requires picking up one’s heel and moving one’s legs in order to perform the mitzvoth themselves.
The Kotzker Rebbe refers to the end of the verse which says,
“…Hashem, your God, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers”. This “covenant” is the assurance Hashem gave to our forefathers that their descendants, Am Yisrael, would inherit Eretz Yisrael. Therefore the entire context of the beginning of the Parsha refers to one specific mitzvah, the mitzvah of inheriting and settling the land of Israel.
“Ekev” – to walk and patrol the land of Israel for the sake of inheriting and conquering it undoubtedly poses many challenges as we have witnessed in our past and continue to experience today, as you have learned to appreciate during your service in TZAHAL. Yet if we “hearken and follow the ordinances” of Hashem, we will succeed in our endeavor and be privy to the greatest reward of all; to secure and settle our land.
While I will miss you over Shabbat, it is comforting to know that you have embraced the mission of “Ekev”. While your service in the army may obstruct you from fulfilling Shabbat in its full halachic context, remember that during all of your patrols, while you are guarding and running to secure a post, you consistently fulfill with your “Ekev” the essential mitzvah of ensuring that all of the Jewish people can walk in the land of our ancestors.
With love and admiration