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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu 5773

Ein Ayah: Satisfaction with the Way Things Are Going

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:175)

Gemara:  Yehuda bar Natan was walking behind Rav Hamnunah and saw that he was sighing. He said to him: “Do you want to bring torment on yourself, as the pasuk says: ‘For I feared a fear and it came upon me, and that which I dreaded came to me’ (Iyov 3:25)?” He responded: “Doesn’t it say: ‘Praiseworthy is one who is constantly fearful’ (Mishlei 28:14)?” That is referring to fear in matters of Torah. 


Ein Ayah: The source of fear and anguish are different within the spirit. A person has to look with a positive outlook at existence as a whole and to the way Hashem runs the world. As such, he should make peace with that which exists in the world, in light of the fact that he is not disjointed from it but a part of the big picture. Then he will not be afraid and will not be tormented. He will not be fazed by unpredictable events that take place because he will already know that this is part and parcel of the way life is. He should be happy and at peace with all the ways of the world, as this is the perfect order that Hashem set out for it. He should not express discomfort over the way the world is run, even though it often does not find favor in the eyes of those who are shortsighted. Rather, he should be one of those who have learned to desire only that which is desirable in truth.

In the beginning of the weakening of one’s spirit, he will begin to become afraid of frightening things, which illustrate the possibility of occurrences that he does not at all want to happen. The resulting depressed feeling can bring one to look in a negative light at his existence in general, which in turn brings him anguish. This is because, for the most part, anguish has to do with a person’s inner being. A happy spirit sees the world with a heart full of light and security, and then even that which would cause anguish to others does not cause anguish to him. He is able to see or believe in the good that comes even from ostensibly difficult events.

In contrast, whoever cannot find happiness in the world as it is will have a life full of anguish. It is not possible for a person to live in peace and tranquility in this world unless he teaches himself to go along with the world and the conditions that exist within it. One who can do this will not experience things he has to fear, unless it is necessary due to sins, and will not be seen sighing about things that depress him.

The exception to this rule is in matters of Torah, which is the essence of one’s spiritual self- perfection. In that realm it is positive to be less than satisfied, as there is always room for improvement. However, since a person knows that his lack of satisfaction is so that he can reach a higher state, he will not use it in a way that weakens his spirit. Rather, he will use it to push away elements of laziness and refuse to settle for the level he is presently at by thinking that it is higher than actually is. Still, though, his heart will be full of light and power, which will enable him to be wise and succeed.

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