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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5773

Ein Ayah: General Praise Built on Specific Ones

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:273)

Gemara: I might think that for all blessings we receive, there should be one praise of Hashem. Therefore, the pasuk says: “He is exalted above every blessing and praise” (Nechemia 9:5) – [understood as] one should praise Him for each blessing.


Ein Ayah: In principle, when one’s understanding becomes great, the details of general ideas merge into the collective. Therefore, there is logic to give a single general praise that captures the essence of Hashem’s benevolence to us.

However, in practice, one will never be able to grasp the general idea until he considers the details that constitute it. When he does so very clearly and the individual elements, each important in and of itself, form together one great picture, his spirit will be elevated and will delight in its connection to Hashem. Specifically the variety will uncover endless light, which can be compared metaphorically to the individual streams and rivers that flow into and form the waters of the sea.

That is why the Rabbis instituted separate blessings for each situation and benefit, so that one will fill himself with sanctity, in accordance with the pasuk, “You went up to the heavens and seized spoils; you took presents among man” (Tehillim 68:19).



A Time to Spread and a Time to Gather

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:276)


Gemara: Hillel the Elder said: At a time when people are keeping things to themselves, spread [Torah]. At a time when people are spreading, gather (keep things to yourself).


Ein Ayah: The good ideas and approaches to improve mankind fall into two categories. There is a tendency for man to want to improve himself and a tendency to try to improve the collective. These two goals are actually intertwined. The more individuals there are who have elevated themselves, the more successful their collective will be. Similarly, when one improves the collective, whether it be a national collective or humanity as a whole, he also impacts on many individuals, who are spiritually nourished by the spirituality of the collective.

Since people possess different characteristics, they will never reach a point of stability. Hashem intends that humanity should be improved in all aspects, in the collective and the individual realms. To do this, many people need to do a lot of work. To fix individuals, there is a need to involve many people, quantitatively. To improve the collective, there is a need for great levels, qualitatively.

It is hard, in any generation, to arrive at a situation whereby the needs of each are equally addressed. Some generations possess a spirit of individual self-improvement. While this is good, it is important for the collective and its individual components to not forsake the realm of the collective. When one identifies this danger, he should try to convey upon himself and others the need to spread positive qualities among the masses. However, the pendulum can swing in the other direction, whereby so much effort is put into the collective, that there are not enough people toiling to improve themselves intellectually and spiritually, and even materially. This is important for the collective, as well, as one should not teach before he learns or influence others before reaching the necessary level. Therefore, in a generation where there is too much emphasis on spreading, one should look to balance the matter by working, internally, on his own growth.

These are the important corrections to the trends of society to which the gemara refers.

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