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Shabbat Parashat Yitro 5773

Ein Ayah: Modesty Distancing Dangers

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:243)

Gemara: Rabbi Tanchum bar Chanilai said: Whoever is modest in the bathroom will be saved from three things: snakes, scorpions, and demons. Some say that his dreams will also be orderly and pleasant for him.

 

Ein Ayah: A person must protect his special status as a human being even when he is forced to perform things that are connected to his animalistic nature. All sorts of damages and dangers befall a person when his nature lowers him to animalistic behavior. In contrast, a person who is of the highest caliber and never compromises his dignity will be saved from all loss because of the elevation of value that he receives as a result of his behavior.

There are three categories of damages in the world. The first category is damages that come from a clear “damager,” which is capable of doing damage even if the victim did nothing to make himself susceptible to it. This type is represented by the snake. When one works on the level of the divine image within him (i.e., modesty), even when he is involved in animalistic activities (i.e., in the bathroom), his aura of holiness will cause his enemies to want to reconcile with him and not attempt to hurt him while he possesses such charm.

The second category of a damager is one which causes damage without making a conscious decision to do so. This is represented by the scorpion, which moves its tail and stings without necessarily planning to do so. This category of damage to people occurs when one forgets to concentrate on his intellectual side, which is a danger when one allows his animalistic side to become overly strong. If a person remains focused on his intellectual side, he will not be so susceptible to this type of danger.

The third category of danger is one that a person is himself responsible for having created. The example that represents this category is the mazikin (demons). If not for the “preparation” provided by a person’s imagination, there would be no damage. Indeed, without one’s imagination, there are no mazikin, which are a product of one’s imagination. The way “demons” cause damage is by affecting one’s spirit to the point that this has a trickle-down effect on the body as well. The damage of this type can only occur when one’s intellect is weakened, for, otherwise, one’s imagination is not able to cause damage.

Dreams come up in a confused, upsetting manner only when one’s control over his intellectual side is weak. Then one’s materialistic and imaginative side takes control over him, and his imagination can be petrifying and confusing. However, a person who is stable, so that even when he is sleeping his intellectual side still provides balance for him, will maintain order and balance in his dreams as well. They will remain close to the logical and far away from the wild imagination that can upset a person so badly.

 

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Hemdat Yamim

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