Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar| 5770
Ein Ayah: Can a Tzaddik Deteriorate?(condensed from Berachot 4:42)
Gemara: [The gemara discusses the question whether it is conceivable that one who was always a tzaddik could turn into a heretic.] Abayei said: we have learned that one who is good does not become bad. Is it true that he cannot? Doesn’t the pasuk say: “When the tzaddik goes back from his ways and does iniquity”? That is talking about one who was a rasha originally. [Rava said that even one who had always been a tzaddik could become a rasha.]
Ein Ayah: It seems correct that regarding beliefs, once a rooted belief is absorbed clearly in the mind of a tzaddik, there is no way that he will abandon his clear truth. The gemara asks from a pasuk that indicates that the tzaddik could sin and apparently is most interested in the end of the pasuk which is referring to philosophical beliefs as well.
The basis of the disagreement between Abayei and Rava whether a tzaddik could turn into a heretic depends on the following question. Is the shleimut (completeness) that is critical for a person completed by digesting clear proofs to philosophical questions, in which case one who has reached shleimut in wisdom has certainly digested clear proofs? Or, does shleimut rest upon a straight heart, which is enough for one who possesses this trait to live happily with his beliefs?
According to Abayei, one needs proofs to live as a complete Jew, in which case a good person who has reached this level will not give all of that up. It suffices that at the time he accepted the proofs he was not ruined by a bad nature and bad actions. Someone who was once compromised by a bad nature will always be susceptible to deterioration. According to Rava, a straight heart is sufficient, in which case one could stray from his good nature, in which case love of true ideas may leave him. Thus, he always needs help from Above.
Elements of a Proper Tefilla
(condensed from Berachot 4:46-47)
Gemara: Whoever’s tefilla is keva will not have it accepted as tachanunim. What does keva mean? Rabbi Yaakov bar Idi said: whoever’s prayers seem to him as a burden. Rabbanan said: whoever did not say the prayers in a language of supplication.
Ein Ayah: Before prayer, one’s soul should resemble one who is weak from involvement in thoughts that are far from shleimut and spirituality and is waiting for the praying to remove the darkness from him. By spilling out his soul before his Maker, he will be energized with a spiritual happiness. An improper prayer is one that does just the opposite: it is seen as a burden that will just tire him out further. Prayer mustn’t come because of no more than an obligation but must be accompanied by emotion.
On the other hand, if one’s prayers are an expression of emotion and nothing else, then it is not based on the foundation of prayer, which is, after all, a service to Hashem. The emotion should be a medium to focus his ideas in a proper manner, but prayer is well beyond human emotions. It should be supplication that evokes the will of Hashem. As supplication, one should realize that his feelings are of little importance in comparison with the Divine Will that is associated with prayer.
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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben