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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha 5772

Ein Ayah: Positive Overflowing of Bounty and Boundaries

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 7:45)

Gemara:  Rabbi Yochanan said: Whoever makes a beracha over a full cup of wine will receive a portion without boundaries, as the pasuk says: “To the west and the south he will inherit” (Devarim 33:23). Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina says: He will merit receiving two worlds: this world and the world to come.


Ein Ayah:  Superficially, we view the proper approach for a person who wants a truly meaningful life as accomplished by sufficing with necessities and distancing himself from enjoying extras. However, enjoyment of a broader physical life beyond bare necessities is engrained in the human soul, and it must be for good reason that Hashem created us in that way.

Desiring luxuries is a negative trait when one does so in order to simply indulge his senses, in which case he really should work on limiting himself. However, it is also possible to use one’s natural inclination toward expansiveness in order to prepare himself for that which is good and straight in Hashem’s eyes. In that case, he need not try to curb himself, for there is no limit to that which he can accomplish with broad resources.

Making a beracha on a full cup demonstrates a satiation in bountiful materialism. However, when one uses that cup to bless Hashem in a way that indicates that he wants to use broad resources to promote that which is righteous, then it is appropriate for him to desire a broad physical life. Such a person’s reward is a portion without boundaries, for if he desired the plentifulness for himself, how much can he have? However, if he desires great riches, honor, and success so that he will be able to accomplish many things, there are no limits as to what can be used. That is why he receives a portion without boundaries.

The foundation of a good approach to life is recognizing the good one receives. The more one appreciates that which he receives the more his personal characteristics will develop favorably. Then also, the more he receives, the more he will use his gifts to spread kindness in the world. This occurs when one recognizes the good in his Maker.

Most people make a clear distinction between physical and spiritual pleasure, and such people cannot fill their soul with the love of both this world and the world to come. The Chovot Halevavot compares it to putting water and fire in the same utensil. This, though, is when one is talking about this world from the perspective of the pleasures of the senses. However, when one enjoys the good of this world because of what he can accomplish with it, then the love of the physical is the love of the spiritual as well. The acts of kindness that he is involved in are activities that are very compatible with the life of the world to come. This is why one who makes a beracha on a full cup can inherit both this world and the world to come.

From the two statements (portion without boundaries; this world and the next) together, we learn that with the right approach to abundance in this physical world, one can make himself fit to receive endlessly in a both physical and a spiritual manner.

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