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Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim Vayeilech 5771

Ein Ayah: Separating Oneself from the Group

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 7:37)

Gemara:  How does one do a zimun? If there are three people including him, he says: “Let us bless….” If there are three plus him, he says: “You bless …” Shmuel said: One should never take himself out of the klal (group/collective).


Ein Ayah:  The level of one’s service of Hashem depends on his ability to comprehend the Divine. There are some elements of Torah law that may appear to one who is on a high intellectual/spiritual level to be necessary only for those who are on a lower level than he is. However, one may not thereby exempt himself from such obligations by any means, because he is obligated to be connected to the klal. Therefore, the fact that there is a need for such things for others in the nation, on their levels, is sufficient reason for those on a high level to conform to the matter.

Those who are on the highest levels in their understanding of the Divine are included in the actions of the klal because the more the klal is perfected the more they themselves are perfected, and whatever affects the klal adversely affects them adversely, as well. A person is incapable of grasping to what extent the klal has a major impact on his life and his level, even in regard to areas which he would think are not relevant to his needs according to his personal spiritual level.

Even so, we should distinguish between two scenarios. There are some matters in which if a great person separates himself from the klal, the klal will be adversely affected. In such cases, the individual will be able to advance only if he connects himself to the klal in all ways of religious activity to the extent that it is necessary. There are other areas in which there are no noticeable ill effects from the individual’s separating himself, as the klal will continue on their proper path without his involvement.

We can compare the first category to a person who is involved in a zimun, where he is one of only three. In that case, without him there is no group, and certainly he must include himself in the manner of the others (by saying “let us bless”). In this way he improves the group’s lot, and certainly he should not separate himself and harm it.

However, even in the second category, where there is not clear damage because average people will not learn from the special individual or because he acts differently privately, there are still elements of the same idea. It is indeed more reasonable for him to not concern himself with certain details that are, in his view, not appropriate to his level. In this way, he is like the person who is a fourth to a zimun and is thus not needed to form the group, and he can say “you bless …,” as the group remains intact. However, here too, this is not the mainstream approach and even if there does not appear to damage by separating, he should still include himself. Firstly, there may be a negative personal impact by depriving himself from that which is needed for the klal. With all of his high level, he is still connected to the klal, and there may be an unnoticeable need for him as well. Therefore, one should never separate himself. 

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