Home > Hemdat Yamim > Archive
Shabbat Parashat Vayigash 5773
Ein Ayah: Positive, Negative and Mixed Evaluation of Moral Issues(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:221)
Gemara: Rabbi Yossi Haglili said: Tzaddikim (righteous people) are judged by their yetzer hatov (good inclination), as the pasuk says: “My heart is like a corpse within me” (Tehillim 109:22). Reshaim (evil people) are judged by their yetzer hara (evil inclination), as the pasuk says: “The word of sin to the rasha is in the midst of my heart” (Tehillim 36:2). Average people are judged by both inclinations, as the pasuk says: “As He will stand to the right of the destitute person to save him from those who judge his soul” (Tehillim 109:31).
Ein Ayah: The ability to judge involves the use of intellectual powers. One would have thought that in regards to the intellectual process, it makes no difference what a person’s moral standing is, but just the quality of his intellect. This is not so, though, because when one has to deal with moral decisions, there is not always a clear, undisputable conclusion, and the matter will come down to the indications provided by one’s straight heart. Therefore, there is a lot of interplay between a person’s decisions on moral matters and his moral level.
Tzaddikim have pure hearts and straight characteristics, and they can discern intellectually what needs to emerge from that which is good. For reshaim, their corrupt sense of morality molds them to the point that they arrive at explanations for why it is proper to do the evil things that they do.
It is relatively easy to accept the idea that tzaddikim have shaped their way of thinking so that their intellectual tendencies are good ones and that reshaim are such that they make decisions based on corrupt ideas. However, one would think that average people, who are not weighted one way or the other, would be able to analyze things intellectually in a, so to speak, objective manner. This is not the case because on matters of ethics there is no one objective way to view things, but rather it all depends on the internal thought process of the beholder according to his perspective of goodness. The average people, thus, will not judge things without the impact of their inclinations, but they will be influenced by both the yetzer hatov and the yetzer hara. Therefore, one should strive to strengthen his yetzer hatov and be a tzaddik, and only in that way will his manner of judging life issues will be a proper one.
The Requirements to Be Considered a Tzaddik
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:222)
Gemara: Rava said: People like us are average people. Abaye said to him: You are not giving people a chance.
Ein Ayah: Rava thought that the foundation of the determination of whether one is a tzaddik, a rasha, or an average person does not follow from how he acts in the final analysis, but by what thoughts enter his head. He thought that a tzaddik should be someone who only contemplates things that are good and proper. It is an average person who sometimes has thoughts that are negative, even if he is one who consistently overcomes those thoughts.
Abaye responded that those standards make it almost impossible for there to be a tzaddik. Even someone who is fully entrenched in goodness will have evil thoughts pass through his head. The power of the tzaddik is to be able to quickly dismiss these thoughts. Rather, according to Abaye, an average person is one whose evil thoughts are entrenched enough that he is not always able to distinguish between them, and therefore he may even decide sometimes based on the evil. However, one who is able to discern and make his decisions based on proper thoughts is a tzaddik.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
This edition of
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l