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Shabbat Parashat Beshalach| 5771

Ein Ayah: The Reason to Work for a Livelihood

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:10)

[Last time, we saw the disagreement between Rabbi Yishmael, who said Jews should be involved in making a normal living, and Rabbi Shimon, who said one should strive to only study Torah. Abaye said that experience showed that Rabbi Yishmael’s approach is the one that works.]

 

Gemara: Rava said to the Rabbis: I ask of you not to come before me [to study] during the months of Nisan and Tishrei, so that you will not be preoccupied with your livelihood all year.

 

Ein Ayah: Hashem engrained in creation that a person lacks satisfaction when involved only in intellectual [Torah] pursuit without any standard work so that one will be pushed to see to his many physical necessities. Otherwise, many would involve themselves just in the intellectual, only to become so overwhelmed by their needs that they would no longer be able to pursue wisdom. If one takes care of his practical needs during certain times of the year, he will be more naturally drawn to the intellectual during the most appropriate times.

Possibly, Abaye and Rava disagree about Rabbi Yishmael’s reasoning. Abaye felt that experience showed that, irrespective of necessity, man’s essence is made for some involvement in normal physical work. Rava reasoned that only when necessity dictates it do we say that man needs normal work, but to the extent that one is able to devise a plan to avoid such involvement, that is the higher level to strive for. A person, especially a Jew, can lead his life in a manner that he has extended periods when he is dedicated exclusively to the worship of Hashem.

 

The Balance Between Torah Study and Work

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:11)

 

Gemara: Come and see the difference between the earlier generations and the more recent generations. The earlier generations made their Torah study a set thing and their work a temporary activity, and they were successful in both. More recent generations, who made their work a set thing and their Torah study a temporary activity, were unsuccessful at both.

 

Ein Ayah: The foundation of tranquility, even in regards to this world, depends on fixing the general and the personal moral standing. When a person has reached a state of good characteristics in regard to fear of Hashem and belief, he is able to avoid many things that detract from his strength and make the burden of the trials of life greater. One with a proper approach is one able to enjoy that which Hashem provides him, even if he does not have that much.

In contrast, one who has a lower spiritual level will not be satisfied with his physical attainments, and his problematic tendencies will lead him in the direction of desires that destroy the foundations of a healthy life. This will cause spiritual disease for him and his offspring. Even if he becomes rich, it will not make him happy.

When the earlier generations made their Torah study the set thing in their lives, this led them to a healthy moral outlook of fear of Hashem and proper characteristics. Under those circumstances, the less serious effort they put into work sufficed to keep them happy, for they had a healthy outlook regarding their efforts and the fruits of their labor. In later generations, people were so concerned about their financial success and physical attainments that they did not leave enough time for Torah studies because they did not feel they could afford to do so. They were not successful even in their physical attainments because whatever they accumulated did not suffice to make them feel good.

When discussing set versus temporary, the main thing is not the number of hours but the attitude. The main question is what he considers most crucial, even if he is able to be involved in it for less time.

 

 

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