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Shabbat Parashat Miketz 5774

Ein Ayah: Individuals Prepared for the Nations Blessings

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:338)

Gemara: Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yossi Hagelili opened his remarks and expounded: That which it says (Shmuel II 6:12): “Hashem blessed the house of Oved Edom because of the Ark of Hashem” teaches the following kal vachomer. If the Ark, which did not eat or drink, but [Oved] just cleaned the area, received [such a blessing], one who hosts a talmid chacham in his home, gives him to eat and to drink, and has him benefit from his property, is all the more so [worthy of reward].What was the blessing [that the host of the Holy Ark] received? Rav Yehuda bar Zavda said: The mother-in-law and her eight daughters-in-law gave birth to sextuplets.

 

Ein Ayah: We find that a nation’s success is quite dependent on a high fertility rate, for when there are many workers, there is much blessing. However, at a time when the needs that facilitate living in the land are somewhat lacking, then the great national benefit of many children is a great hardship to the individual who has to raise many children. The toil of raising the children, the great expenses, and the division of the attention and effort among so many recipients can be formidable.

However, the situation is different if the blessing that the nation and its families receive is complete – the body and the spirit are strong, one’s financial situation is excellent, and the children do not have blemishes that require work and are draining emotionally. Then the great gift of children, which helps the nation, will be a worthy blessing for the individual as well.

What greater sign of national success is there than the situation in which individuals are so successful that the things that are good for the nation are beneficial and good news for the individuals as well. This situation can exist only when Hashem’s blessing is on the nation so that it is in a good state regarding body, spirit, and finances. When this happens, then the national spirit will be very strong within each citizen and that which is good for the nation will be a joy for the individual as well.

When Israel will be in such a firm and successful state, then even going to war will not be such a stressful situation, and people will volunteer out of great love for the nation. There can then even be announcements that whoever is fearful can return to his home (see Devarim 20:8).

We find this ideal situation in regard to the reward given to Oved Edom (the host of the Holy Ark) because of the honor he gave to the Ark, the source of light for the whole nation, where all the collective’s parts are joined together in a wonderful unity. As such, there was no difference between the blessing of the collective and the blessing of the individual. Therefore, the birth of so many children, which would usually be a blessing to the nation and a curse to the family, was in this case a blessing all around because of the general blessing of Hashem that abounded, enabling proper acceptance of this blessing. This stood as a sign that the blessing of Hashem was complete because the people had followed Hashem and clung to His Torah. In that way, even the maximum natural amount of fertility was a blessing of the highest order.

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