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Shabbat Parashat Metzora 5774

Ein Ayah: Keeping Things Simple

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Maaser Sheni 23)

Gemara: [At the end of the declaration upon the fulfillment of the mitzvot of ma’asrot, one declares]: “Gaze from Your holy abode, from the Heavens” – we have done that which You decreed upon us; You too, do what You promised us.


Ein Ayah: When a person is elevated to the point that he becomes close to Hashem and has the benefit of true intellectual realizations, then he will be drawn to service of Hashem and all elements of good with love and the understanding of the good that is included in the mitzvot. However, then he has to be careful not to decide that all the goodness and the desired benefit from the mitzvot is that which he has been able to realize with his intellect. In fact, people’s thoughts change, and in different generations there will be different abstract conceptions. On the one hand, one is supposed to explore the understanding of Torah and mitzvot according to the power of his intellect and the purity of his heart and increase the power of his approach to Hashem according to intellectual inspiration. However, on the other hand, he should exercise the approach which we can call, “I am simple and do not know; I was like an animal with You” (Tehillim 73:22). He should contemplate that in relation to the true value of the Torah and the mitzvot, all that he is able to understand is like nothing. Therefore, even if he is on a high level, epitomized by ma’aser sheni, which indicates that every person has an element of kehuna in him, he should not build the foundation of his service on that intellect.

Therefore, a wise person’s crowning achievement is to lower his spirit when building the basis of his service. The simple idea is one which is appropriate for us on our lowly level even though for the Master of all that happens in the world, there is a much more complex understanding of Torah and mitzvot. That is why we conclude the declaration upon completing the fulfillment of the mitzvot of ma’asrot with a very simple concept, one which a simpleton is also capable of saying, and that is the following.  

Hashem’s decrees are to be followed. As a simple and straightforward result of our compliance to Hashem’s decree, we are to expect that since we did what Hashem demanded, He will keep the related promises. A person should not connect what he considers his deep understanding of the significance of the mitzvot to appropriate outcomes of the actions. Indeed, as much as we can intellectualize, we will not reach the bottom of the matter. Rather we should teach our heart to approach the matter simply and express the simple philosophy of reward for good deeds without additional reasons and attempts at sophistication. From this will stem the good fruit of lofty blessing that flows from the grandeur of fulfilling the Torah. The great message of holding back our knowledge of Hashem’s grand plan as perceived by our weak ability to grasp is best expressed when we explain the consequences of mitzvot most simply – Hashem decrees and fulfills His promise when we fulfill the decree.
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