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Shabbat Parashat Vayigash 5772

Ein Ayah: National Elevation Through the Actions of Great Individuals

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 8:12)

[We saw, in the previous installments, the importance of elevating one’s physical state of eating with bentching at the same place. Rabba bar bar Chana likened the experience to receiving a dove made out of gold that comes from the physical ground.] 


Gemara:  Why was the dove specified [among the different birds]? It is because the Congregation of Israel is compared to a dove, as the pasuk says: “The wings of (kanfei) the dove, coated with silver” (Tehillim 68:14). Just as a dove is saved by its wings, so Israel is saved only by means of mitzvot.


Ein Ayah:  [Rabba bar bar Chana’s idea that bentching in the place one eats is like taking gold from the ground and making into something that represents soaring like a bird] could have been illustrated with any bird. However, in his humility, Rabba used the symbolism specifically of a dove because Bnei Yisrael are compared to it.

Rabba conveyed the message that it is fitting to credit the mitzvot, with all of their intricacies, in the manner that they impact on Israel as a collective. Within the nation, there are people of great depth whom the mitzvot elevate according to their fullest content. Due to the idea of national unity, then, everyone who performs the mitzva as part of the collective has a share in the total impact of the mitzva.

The cited pasuk conveys this point: “The wings of (kanfei) the dove, coated with silver, its eiver with yellowish gold.” [In Modern Hebrew evra refers to certain major feathers; Rav Kook seems to interpret it as a more internal limb used in the flying process]. The kanaf is the more external part of the wings, which actually produces the flight. However, the more internal part of the wing, which creates the movement, is the eiver. There is a difference between the use of gold and that of silver. Silver is normally used by normal, respectable people. Gold is primarily reserved for kings and noblemen. As the pasuk says: “All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were from gold … there was no silver; it was not valued at all in the times of Solomon” (Melachim I, 10:21).

In regards to mitzvot, as well, there are external and internal elements. The internal content is the major factor that causes the impact, although it is directly accessible only to great people. However, the external element [is within the grasp of many]. This connection is like that of the kanaf to the evra and of the silver to the gold it coats. This is what is special about the unification of external actions to internal concepts, so that the external actions of the nation are impacted by the deep concepts that a select few are able to arrive at. This is a unique quality of mitzvot, which come from a place of lofty sanctity, and are thereby able to connect the different elements and levels.

A dove is saved from danger by means of its wings. Its oppressors prompt it to fly away. So too, when the spirit feels threatened by dangers, whether human enemies of the people or forces of physicality, we are drawn at this time by our internal goodness to seek the divine goodness. In practice, we cling to mitzvot which elevate us beyond our present state. Specifically, eating can strengthen the physical side to the extent that it is a danger to the spirit, but the spirit clings to the opportunity to bentch at that same place. This mitzva transforms and elevates all, by combining its performance by people acting on different levels.

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