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Shabbat Parashat Tzav | 5770

Ein Ayah: The Four Sons

(condensed from Rav Kook’s Commentary of the Haggada)


Haggada: Blessed is the Place (Hashem), blessed is He; blessed is He who gave Torah to His nation, Israel, blessed is He. The Torah spoke corresponding to four sons: one is wise (chacham); one is evil (rasha); one is simple (tam); and one does not know how to ask.


Rav Kook’s Commentary: We are able to discuss Hashem in regard to His hashgacha (providence) over the world and in regard to His ratzon (will). We learn about His hashgacha from the creation: how beautiful it is and how orderly, and how it was so good and kind of Him to make such a creation. When we talk about the wonder of the Torah and its purpose, to complete the world, we are praising His ratzon.

Hashem’s hashgacha is an expression of His kindness, as one who wants to give to His creations. His ratzon is the grooming of justice and law from the perspective of His creations, which is the greatest shleimut (completeness) that can be reached by those who grasp His ratzon and cling to His truth.

We can readily appreciate why Hashem created in His world wise and moral people (like the chacham), who are capable of receiving so much in this world and using it in the correct way. The presence of such people in the world makes it easy to appreciate that the world was created. However, it is not obvious why Hashem created the rasha, when He knew in advance that he would cause darkness and unfortunate things. Despite our difficulty in understanding, we believe that there must be a great purpose for such people to exist.

Hashem’s ratzon finds expression through the Torah. The Torah is seen to us as most valuable, not for the chacham who is bright enough to attain a good hold on the path of goodness even without the Torah. Rather, it is an especially critical tool for one who has a straight heart and is motivated by what he sees to look for truth but is incapable of doing so without the Torah. It is true that the chacham needs the Torah to get to the higher levels. However, from the perspective of that which is evident to us, which is the level that normal people can reach, those on a lower level are more obviously impacted.

There are those who, even with some help, lack the ability to reach the point where they seek the path of truth, and they will never grasp the truth of Torah in any significant way. In regard to them, it would seem that Hashem’s revelation of His ratzon through the Torah was a waste. However, this is not so, and even they benefit greatly from the fact that Hashem revealed His will to the world, just that this benefit is a hidden one.

Now we can approach the introduction to the four sons in which we bless Hashem four times, in regard to four different elements. “The Place” is a code name for Hashem, in reference to the existence of the world, its boundaries, aspects and its creations, in a manner that we can appreciate somewhat the purpose of creation. This is epitomized by the existence of the chacham. Blessing “He,” which is non-descript pronoun, hints at the presence of the rasha, for which we bless Hashem without knowing how this is of value. We bless Hashem “who gave the Torah to His nation, Israel” for the impact that the Torah has on the tam, who is prepared to be wizened up by the Torah, albeit not to the highest levels of truth. Actually, all people are tam in regard to their abilities in Torah and, therefore, the Torah was given to the entire kehillat Yaakov, and Yaakov himself was called tam. However, it is most felt regarding those who would not have approached truth without the Torah. In relation to the one who does not know how to ask or accept the Torah in any significant way, we again bless the non-descript G-d, as we believe, without knowing how, that he too gains from the fact that Hashem gave the Torah to Israel.


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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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