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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha 5773
Ein Ayah: The Proper Focus of a Vibrant Life(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:182)
Gemara: One is required to bless Hashem for the bad just as be blesses for the good, as we derive from “You shall love Hashem your G-d, with all your heart(s)” – with your two inclinations, the good inclination and the evil inclination – “and with all your soul” – even if He takes your soul – “and with all your means (meodecha)” – with all your money; another approach is: with every measure (mida) that he measures out for you, thank him (modeh) very very much (m’od m’od).
Ein Ayah: When a person is focused on his private issues and physical enjoyment, his conception of good and bad is limited to how things affect him. When one’s connection to Hashem is elevated based on his intellectual/spiritual realm and he appreciates absolute truth, he will view that which is good based on that which is beneficial to the collective. Regarding the collective, Hashem does nothing that can be viewed as bad, as Hashem ensures that everything is done in an appropriate manner according to the time and situation. That which appears bad in regard to the individual may cause great goodness to the interests of the collective. When one who is on a high level suffers a personal tragedy, he is able to find satisfaction in his personal tragedy due to the benefit that it causes the collective, which to him is the crucial matter. It makes little difference to this great person if the recipients of the resulting good are close to or far from him in relationship, location, or time. He can make the blessing on the apparent bad with the same love as the blessing on the good. In fact the whole concept of good and bad divine decrees applies only to people with a more limited outlook.
One who elevated his ways of service of Hashem to the level described above is able to serve Hashem with all his inclinations, for he is interested in the broadest level of good and justice. If that includes the need for him to give his life, then he will eagerly volunteer to do so because he cares about the ultimate good of the collective. His own interests in relation to those of the community appear to him like the light of a candle in relation to a large torch.
There are people who minimize their interest in life due to impatience and unawareness of the value of life and of expanding their life experience. They do not show greatness when they sacrifice their life or the means of expanding it. The proper approach is to want as vibrant a life as possible despite the fact that he is fully prepared to give up his life for Hashem because of the understanding of the great need and value of the situation that would require it.
This approach to life also finds expression in being able to be thankful to Hashem in an extreme (m’od m’od) way. A soul that has diminished aspirations will not feel the need to thank Hashem in a full way because good or bad, pleasure or affliction, are not of as great interest to him. The greater one’s involvement in the world, the greater the dedication toward that which is just and good in the most ideal and all-encompassing manner. When such people connect to the welfare of the collective, they will find their greatest enjoyment there, and they will help add on to it just as the rivers and streams lead to and fill the seas. Therefore, in every element of benefit that one is exposed to in life, he should feel the good that comes from it and thank Hashem who runs the world, who created all for His glory, and whose glory fills the world.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim
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