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Shabbat Parashat Vayeilech 5773

Ein Ayah: Trust and Immunity to Bad

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:173)

Gemara:  Rava said: The following pasuk should be learned from the beginning to the end and also from the end to the beginning: “From bad tidings he will not fear, his heart is properly set and he has trust in Hashem” (Tehillim 112:7). He will not be afraid of bad tidings because he trusts in Hashem. If he has trust in Hashem, he will not have to fear bad tidings.   


Ein Ayah: If a person has full trust in Hashem, this covers all the paths of righteousness and goodness. When he turns to Hashem for all that he desires, his heart will be pure from all that is bad, and he will be going on the proper path. As such, there will not be a need to refine him by means of frightening things, and he will not be afraid of bad tidings.

However, that which brings a person to this high level of full trust in Hashem is the spiritual bravery to internalize the realization that there is really no reason to fear anything. One should not even fear those matters that seem bad in human eyes, for nothing will occur if Hashem did not decree it. That is the way to read the pasuk from the end to the beginning. If one has proper trust in Hashem, then he will not fear bad tidings, including those things that actually came about, because he will know that they are not actually bad. When he is on that level, Hashem will protect him to a higher degree, as the pasuk says: “The legs of His righteous people He shall guard” (Shmuel I, 2:9).   


Ein Ayah: The Time and Place for Fear

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:174)


Gemara: A student was following Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yossi. Rabbi Yishmael saw that he was afraid, and said to him: “You must be a sinner, for the pasuk says: ‘Sinners in Zion were afraid’ (Yeshaya 33:14).” [The student] responded: “Doesn’t the pasuk say: ‘Praiseworthy is the one who is constantly fearful’ (Mishlei 28:14)”? [Rabbi Yishmael answered:] “That is referring to fear in matters of Torah.”


Ein Ayah: Fear comes when one is in a state of mind that does not fit in with the world around him, for whoever is in harmony with his surroundings does not fear them. Therefore, one who did not sin and did not lose his connection to the reality of the world around him will not be afraid at all. Only a sinner, who has separated his soul from the world of straightness by choosing paths of crookedness, will be afraid.

In general, pure logic dictates that one should not be afraid. When one is on the right path, he will be connected to logic (of a spiritual nature), and he will not be vulnerable to fear. When he leaves the world of intellect and strays into areas that imagination dictates, there is room for fear, because there are terrible horrors that exist therein. That is why Rabbi Yishmael posited that fear, indicating a connection to the realm of imagination, is a sign of sin.

The lack of fear of someone who is without sin relates only to fear of losing things that are according to his level. However, regarding one who sets his sights to acquire great things that are beyond him, such as a high level of Torah achievement, there is indeed room for fear. Despite his lack of sin, it is still elusively distant and of immense value. This type of fear of loss of Torah does not take away a person’s tranquility of the soul. After all, once he shows concern for his Torah, he already deserves his lot in Torah, for Torah is not truly lost unless one wants to lose it. Even when one has difficulty retaining Torah, the Torah is able to shine its way back into his life. Nevertheless, there is room for a light level of fear that encourages a person to be careful.

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Hemdat Yamim

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 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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