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Shabbat Parashat Matot Masei 5772

Ein Ayah: Factors for Improved Frame of Mind

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:111)

Gemara:  Three things restore a person’s frame of mind: sound (Rashi- music), sight, and smell. Three things expand a person’s frame of mind: an attractive home, an attractive wife, and attractive wares.


Ein Ayah: Hashem created people’s spirits ‘straight’: happy with their lives and able to find satisfaction in their feelings. As long as a person aligns his life with the general world of nature, he will find satisfaction. However, due to the agitation that clings to a person from his interaction with society, a person is distanced from the pure feelings of nature, causing his frame of mind to be polluted.

Therefore, that which returns him to a stable frame of mind is the type of general good feeling that a person can find in nature, with which Hashem, in His kindness, filled the world. This includes the pleasant sounds of birds chirping, the sights, such as the grandeur of the Carmel or the flowers of the Sharon, and the smell of roses and pleasing fruit which Hashem planted in His garden, the land that Hashem gave to mankind. These restore a person’s mindset to a natural state, which society took away from him. When he returns to the source of the nature that Hashem provided for him, all the elements of a pleasant natural spirit, including the feelings of sanctity and spiritual elevation that bring him closer to Hashem, will return. He also will be able to restore all the good attributes of an upright person who did not ruin his path in life by leaving the straight path.

However, just returning to a natural state is not the final goal that a man should strive for. Rather, he should expand his spiritual powers to the point that he maximizes all his hidden potential to attain greatness and strive for exalted levels. One cannot reach those levels just based on general acquisitions of that which is shared by all. Rather he must reach unique personal attainments of lofty levels.  In order to go beyond the standard, he requires more than exposure to natural sounds, sights and smells. Rather, he needs pleasing things that are especially related to him as an individual. He needs things that require wisdom and skill to produce. These levels, which require special preparations, allow a nation, a family, and/or special people within society to go beyond the standard healthy personality. That is the difference between restoring a frame of mind and expanding it. Only those who go beyond the norm and become great individuals are capable of striving with all their hearts and souls for the betterment of a nation or of mankind. The examples the gemara gives for a person to have, which make him strive for a higher level of personal spiritual attainment are an attractive home, an attractive wife, and attractive wares.

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