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Shabbat Parashat Vayigash| 5771

Ein Ayah: The Prayer of a Servant Through Emotion

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:117)

Gemara: There was a story involving R. Chanina ben Dosa, who went to learn Torah by R. Yochanan ben Zakai. R. Yochanan ben Zakai’s son became sick. [R. Yochanan] said to him: “Chanina, my son, ask for mercy on his behalf, so that he should live.” [Rabbi Chanina] put his head between his legs and prayed, and he lived. R. Yochanan ben Zakai said: “Had [I] placed my head between my legs all day, [I] would not have been heeded.” His wife asked: “Is Chanina greater than you?” He said to her: “No, but he is like a servant before the king, and I am like an officer before the king.”


Ein Ayah: There is a type of service of Hashem where the intellect brings one to follow in the path of Hashem. There is another type that revolves around good emotion. Both are related to a good heart, as the healthy intellect leads one’s powers, and good emotions rule his inclinations.

The main thing for one who serves Hashem primarily through intellect is pure conceptions. Therefore, prayer’s impact on his shleimut (completeness) is not enormous. In contrast, for one whose service is linked to emotions, acceptance of his prayers improves his service. This makes it more likely that Hashem will answer his prayers because He wants to advance His servants’ spiritual efforts.

Service based on intellect is actually on a higher level than service based on emotion, just as intellect is greater than emotion. The reason the emotion-based person is more likely to have his prayers answered is illustrated in the comparison between the king’s men. While the officer is more respected, the servant is more likely to get what he requests.


Is it Normal to Sin or to Remain Always Righteous?

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:118)


Gemara: R. Chiya bar Abba said in the name of R. Yochanan: “All of the prophets [in their comforting prophecies] spoke only for those who sinned and repented, but regarding fully righteous people, “the eye did not see; only You did” (Yeshaya 64:3). This statement argues on that of Rabbi Avahu, who said: “In a place where those who sinned and repented stand, fully righteous people cannot stand.”


Ein Ayah: Prophecy comes when the prophet’s spirit is elevated to the level of Divine wisdom until he can see the distant results that will evolve from the causes. Thus, prophecy can grasp (in an exact manner when speaking of actual true prophecy) only that which follows normal events that progress through incremental, spiritual cause and effect. In contrast, the infinite G-d has endless possibilities, some of which exceed any degree that we know, but are reserved for the highest level of wisdom. This is referred to by “the eye did not see; only You did.”

It is questionable whether it is normal for a person to sin. If it is normal, then the lot of those who sin and repent is within the realm of predictable behavior, which a prophet can be shown. Furthermore, a righteous person who never sinned is beyond the regular rules, as he has a special similarity to his Maker, and prophets cannot fathom that which he receives. That is why R. Yochanan said that fully righteous people are beyond a prophet’s view.

Rabbi Avahu says that the ability to always remain righteous is fitting to man’s being made “straight,” and the phenomenon of one who sins and is able to repent and fix his status is actually an exception. That is why he posits that the elusive level is that of the one who repents, whereas the lot of one who is righteous from the beginning follows a normal, divinely designed path of spiritual cause and effect.

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