Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot Kedoshim| 5770
Ein Ayah: An Orderly Approach to a Physical World as a Preparation for the World to Come
(condensed from Berachot 4:32)
Gemara: When Rabbi Eliezer became ill, his students entered to visit him. They said to him: “Our master: teach us the ways of life through which we will merit the world to come.” He said to them: “Be careful with your friends’ honor; when you pray, know before Whom you are standing; keep your sons away from higayon (approximately, philosophy) and seat them amongst Torah scholars. Because of these things, you will merit the world to come.”
Ein Ayah: If a person will not have a guide based on the intellect, then if he will look for eternal life, he will view matters of the physical world as worthless and they will cause him to falter. If he does not know a way to live a normal life, he is highly unlikely to succeed, as few can handle a totally ascetic life. Therefore, one needs advice on how to chart a path through a normal life without getting overly involved in a life of pleasures in a manner that will make him forget morality and fear of Hashem.
Rabbi Eliezer’s first piece of advice had to do with proper social interaction, which brings much benefit to the person and the society as a whole. Acting as a positive member of society also helps him realize that the advantage that man has over animals is in his intellectual abilities, which can lead his life and be with him in the world to come.
The second piece of advice was to know to Whom he is praying. Prayer is a form of service to Hashem that is based on emotion and exciting the imagination. If he does not attach the intellectual to it, he can find himself despising physical life, and, therefore, he should give thought when doing it. One should know before Whom he is praying, and not just rely on emotion; in this way, he will remain grounded. The intellect lets one know that the steps one needs to take to succeed in the world in an orderly fashion also have great meaning.
“Keep your sons away from higayon and seat them amongst Torah scholars” – When children are young, they should not occupy themselves with abstract thoughts that are not connected to life, such as the question: what is behind nature? Rather, youngsters should be given spiritual “food” that has a practical element as well. This includes halacha, matters of good character traits, and most matters of practical Torah. Having close connection with Torah scholars means that they should observe the scholars in their mundane and physical activities, which they do with a proper order and impressive logic. The youngsters should not be around the scholars when they are involved in the highest levels of spirituality and intellectualism because they are not able to absorb that in a manner that can be applied in normal life. Rather they should absorb the simple things and this will help them in the long run reach high levels.
These are things that will actually bring people to the world to come, because they deal with a person’s inclinations and give a wise context with which to approach life. When one approaches life in an intellectual manner, he at once separates himself from spiritual satisfaction yet gets closer to Hashem by following His path, the path of the Torah.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
More articles from this issue:
This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of