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Shabbat Parashat Matot 5771

Ein Ayah: Close to the City

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 7:10)

Gemara: “… His property and our property should be successful and close to the city”


Ein Ayah: A person’s completeness, in his spirit and his personal attributes, will be able to continually grow only if he does not make his personal interests the center of his life. Rather, the needs of the greater community, on its various levels, should be close to his heart. This is especially facilitated when his property is close to the city. A person has to be secure in his personal situation, in that he has acquisitions, whether they are physical property or spiritual acquisitions, such as good deeds, good personal attributes, and knowledge and fear of Hashem. But, in addition, there is an advantage that all of these will be close to the city, or, in other words, close to the life of the community. In that way, he will be ready at all times to help others and in that way elevate himself from his personal realm to the realm of the communal. The great value of a mitzva of the masses is built on this foundation. Indeed, whoever brings merit to the masses will not be connected to sin (Avot 5:18).


Avoiding Negative Influences

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 7:11)


Gemara: “Satan should not control [the host’s] or our actions, and no matter of evil thoughts, sin, or iniquity shall be thrust before him or us from now and forever.”


Ein Ayah: On the fundamental level, one loses a lot if he separates himself from a life within society. It makes it difficult to add completeness to the community, which is his true obligation and the basis of the laws of man and the root of the holy Torah, which is the “inheritance of the assemblage of Yaakov.” Indeed, the Torah can be kept in its entirety only when people join together in a life united by serious connections.

On the other hand, communal life also brings many moral stumbling blocks. One intermingles with all sorts of people, including people with improper behavior, whom a society cannot avoid having. This is liable to have a negative impact on everyone and everything within the society. Therefore, after fulfilling his normal aspiration of uniting with the community, every person who cares about his spiritual level should pray that the Satan not control his actions. He must not be damaged, not in the physical/financial realm, which is connected to one’s public life, and not in the spiritual/moral realm.

What especially needs protection is the matter of the purity of one’s thoughts. When one is very involved in society, he is apt to come to desire honor and prominence and to become haughty. That is why we bless others and ourselves that “no matter of evil thoughts, sin, or iniquity shall be thrust before him or us.”

Actions that are taken in the public setting are likely to have a direct or indirect impact well into the future, “as the community does not die.” Therefore, it is proper to pray that the results of his legacy within society be clean from ill-repute, not only while he is alive and active but in the future as well, so that his legacy not turn into something that is connected to the deterioration of society. Rather, that which he left behind should always be ready to help and raise the level of society in matters of fear of Hashem and the paths of straightness. That is why the beracha ends with the words “from now and forever.”

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 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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