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Shabbat Parashat Tzav 5774

Ein Ayah: An Order for Everything

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Maaser Sheni 16)

Gemara: [In the declaration upon fulfilling the mitzvot of ma’aser, one says] “… according to all of the mitzvot that You commanded me,” but if he gave the “second ma’aser” before the “first ma’aser,” he is not able to make the declaration.  


Ein Ayah: Following the proper order of one’s obligations is fundamental in integrating ethical details and principles, and it is proper to set down the matter firmly. After all, some ethical obligations, which bring lofty, complete goodness to the world when done at the proper time with the proper order, destroy the world and hold back much goodness when they are improperly introduced before the times and the generation are fit.

For example, people have obligations first to their family, then to their nation, then to all of humanity, and last to every feeling creation. When these obligations are followed with the proper order of precedence, they can bring the world to its highest level, as Hashem desires.

When a person completes his obligations to his family, he is to turn to his obligation toward his nation. If he is able to find respite within the work for the benefit of his nation, it is praiseworthy if he finds the opportunity to benefit all of mankind. There will come a time when all of humanity’s many needs are attended to, when physical and spiritual levels are all complete. There will not be a need for one to teach his fellow to recognize Hashem because young and old alike will know Hashem. There will then also be complete health, as the lame will jump like a gazelle, and the mute will sing (see Yeshaya 35:6). In fact, even death and sorrow will cease (see ibid. 25:8). There will not be poverty either, as loaves of bread and clothes will grow on the trees of Eretz Yisrael (Shabbat 30b). At least according to the Rambam, this means that there will not be much difficulty in providing for all of humanity’s needs.

So what will a person then do with his ability and his inner desire to help others and be kind? He will turn to the lower creations and try to help them, giving them wisdom, elevating them with great love to the point that animals that plow will eat refined flour (Yeshaya 30:24). The tendency toward goodness will be such that formerly rival animals will live together in harmony (Yeshaya 11:7). At the same time, Divine Providence will continue to be upon them, while man will serve as a sort of benevolent king over the animal kingdom, as Hashem originally prescribed (Bereishit 1:28). All of the above will occur when the time is right.

However, there are hasty people who ignore the horrible state of the world, where the sword of one person is eating the flesh of another (see Yeshaya 9:19) and there is no truth, or kindness, or knowledge of Hashem in the world (see Hoshea 4:1). A person’s obligation at that point is to see to the needs of his family and his nation. However, some jump to try to fix more general needs of humanity instead, which require him to involve himself in many situations that are bad for his body and spirit. This person ignores the needs of those close to him and allows them to suffer physically and spiritually. Some even skip over concern for the needs of mankind and turn to doing acts of kindness to animals – horses, camels, dogs, and pigs. They ignore the atrocities to man that they see and hasten to try to perfect the world at the level that will be appropriate only in the times of Mashiach. This demonstrates the importance of keeping to a proper order.

Based on this concept, we understand that regarding the declaration about mitzvot, especially those donations that cover the gamut of the concepts of all the mitzvot, it is important to set the priorities straight. Therefore, one who has given the second ma’aser before the first is told that he cannot declare that he fulfilled the mitzvot properly.

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