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Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5773

Ein Ayah: A Positive Outlook

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:287)

Gemara: What does a good guest say? “See how much the host toiled for me. See how much wine, how much meat, and how many cakes he brought me. All that he toiled was only because of me.” In contrast, a bad guest says: “What toil did the host do for me? What wine, meat and cakes did he bring? All that he toiled was only for his wife and children.” What is said about a good guest? “Remember to extol His actions, of which man sings” (Iyov 36:24). What is said about a bad guest? “People will fear Him and He will not see all the wise of heart” (ibid. 37:24). [Both p’sukim refer to Hashem, but the gemara uses the p’sukim in a different light, as if they are speaking about the good host and bad host, respectively.]   


Ein Ayah: [While the gemara describes two approaches of people toward a host, we will view that as a hint at approaches toward Hashem’s provisions for man.]

There are people who lack hope, who speak negatively about Divine Providence, disapproving of many things. Such reactions lower a person’s spirit, the purity of his soul, and his fear of Hashem. In order that those who hear such people should not be affected, they should realize that the pessimistic approach is not based on subjective logic. Rather, a person’s approach depends on whether he has a characteristic of a positive or of a negative outlook, finding expression even in small things, as follows.

One guest sees all that the host does in the most positive light. This is not at all false, as there are positive elements that one who looks with a good eye finds, causing him to have warm feelings toward the host. He judges the host favorably, based on his knowledge that if he were the host, he would take steps to treat his guests properly. He assumes that his host has the same proper approach. One with a negative outlook looks for ways to minimize that which is good and paint things negatively.

A person who looks to do good looks at Divine Providence in a positive light, as he is confident that his own desire to do good comes from the divine spirit within him. He posits that the ostensibly bad in the world has a positive source, making him happier in life and more able to serve Hashem truly with a good outlook to Hashem and His creations. A person with a bad spirit imagines bad things and views that which Hashem and which his fellow human provide in that light. One has a choice to connect himself to the positive and to a pleasant life, aided by a cheerful approach.

The one with the good eye will be connected to a poetic tendency to sing about the wonderful world Hashem created (see Tehillim 92: 5-6). Song is a spiritual creation to bring people spiritual enjoyment. A positive person will cherish the gift of song and thank Hashem for creating such delicate enjoyment. This is what the first pasuk brought in the gemara means in context. [In other words, he will magnify Hashem’s greatness as much as he can and be happy about the gift of singing.]

The negative person will not only fail to appreciate the spiritual gift of song but will not even see that which logically he should be thankful for. He will make people afraid of him and will not see their good, as the second pasuk hints.

We can see that man was created to strive to be positive and look to be thankful to Hashem: “Have enjoyment from Hashem, and He will give you that which your heart desires” (Tehillim 37:4). This will give the person the proper type of patience – not one of apathy, which causes the world to fail. Rather we are talking about the patience of one who knows that Hashem will fix all that seems bad and lacking so that man will have all that he needs to be successful in physical and spiritual ventures. Such patience increases fear of Hashem and fear of sin, giving one a most complete love of Hashem and of His creations; this is what man is supposed to be all about.

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