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Shabbat Parashat B'haalotcha 5773

Ein Ayah: Thanking Hashem for a Variety of Valuable People

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:284-286)

Gemara: One who sees a great assemblage of Jews (ochlusa) says: “Blessed is the Wise One who knows the secrets” [of each of the different people in the assemblage]. Ben Zoma saw an assemblage on the steps of the Temple Mount and recited this beracha and also said: “Blessed is He who created all of these to serve me.” He used to say: “See how much toil Adam had before he had bread to eat: he plowed, sowed, reaped, harvested, threshed, winnowed, sifted, grinded, kneaded, and baked; only then did he eat. I, in contrast, wake up and all of these things are done on my behalf.” (He then pointed out a similar phenomenon regarding clothes.)  


Ein Ayah: Since people’s thoughts and appearances are different one from the other, the more one looks at individual people’s contents, the more he will be astounded by the great differences between them. Differences can result from different education that affected each person in a different way (nurture), or from people’s inborn natural traits, which are also responsible for their different appearances (nature). Paradoxically, the differences between people unify them to one goal – to build the world fittingly. One should be inspired by the divine wisdom that provides the world with people with varied inner and outer characteristics, enabling them to join together harmoniously. If people were aware to what extent they are similar, they would be so strongly drawn toward their own group and would actually negate their own individuality. Then the world would not develop properly. Therefore, Hashem arranged matters so that everyone will view the world from an individualistic perspective. In that way he can use his individualism to further the world.

A person is liable to think that his friend’s desires are unnecessary. If he viewed his friend’s viewpoint as he did his own, he would not stick to his own. Then he might relinquish his approach, and the world would be missing his uniqueness. Therefore, people’s differences are left outwardly and their similarities are preserved internally.

When mankind’s education will be completed, it will no longer be as important to preserve individualism, and the nations will call out in unison in the Name of Hashem and serve Him in harmony (see Tzefania 3:9). Until that time, the points of unification will be like a sealed bag. Because Israel will cause the “unsealing” to transpire, one makes the beracha about secret thoughts upon seeing an assemblage of Jews.

A person, while tending to see others’ characteristics and thoughts as lacking value and integrity, should realize that, before Hashem, their value is clear. This beracha helps people realize that and that there is a secret that connects them. Ben Zoma looked at matters properly. He viewed people with different occupations, not as a threat to his own agenda, but as those who “serve him.” One should see everything that exists in the world and choose that which is useful for his spiritual development and thereby love other people focused on different occupations. Hashem put a certain charm in the eyes of the members of each profession toward that profession. Ben Zoma specified the actions that need to be done just for the simple, physical task of preparing bread. This is all the more true for manufacturing clothes, where there is an element of beauty, which requires special talents and attributes to allow one to hold his position. This is even more so in regard to artists and musicians.

Realizing how many different types of people are needed to provide for one’s basic needs reminds him to have warm feelings for a variety of people. Ben Zoma made a point of stressing the value of having so many types of people and seeing the unifying factor in all of them, rooted in Hashem. They all enhanced his life and deserved his affection.

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