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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5775

Ein Ayah: The Times for External Stimulus for Sanctity

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 1:39)

Gemara: A man can go out with tefillin on close to when Shabbat starts.


Ein Ayah: Tefillin are set aside for weekdays, to the exclusion of Shabbat and Yom Tov, which are themselves “signs.” This is part of a general concept. Our Creator realizes that a person absolutely needs acts of external sanctification in order to come to internal, essential sanctity. One can discern the presence of the external acts from the resulting internal sanctity.

One thing we do to show that the true goal is the internal sanctity is to refrain from wearing tefillin on Shabbat. Wearing tefillin is the classic example of an act of external sanctification that causes internal sanctification, as the pasuk says: “In order that the Torah of Hashem will be in your mouth” (Shemot 13:9). On Shabbat and Yom Tov, in contrast, the focus is on internal self-elevation without the external support.

These concepts also find expression in regard to the spiritual state of the community. The more the nation or its individuals fall spiritually, the more they need to increase external acts of sanctification. The spiritual fall whose sins caused our exile also caused that much Torah was forgotten and that halachic doubts arose in realms where previously there had been certainty. Those doubts brought a need for stringency, which naturally increased the actions of mitzva that were necessary to abide by them. This phenomenon was arranged by the Hand of Hashem to compensate for the nation’s spiritual drop by increasing acts that stimulate spirituality. While such actions due to doubt are intrinsically on a lower level, they still play a positive role in preserving our connection with Hashem.

One should value actions of stringency due to doubt as long as we have not returned to our beloved home and do not have a king, a prophet, and a Sanhedrin who will rule on Torah matters in a manner that leaves no doubts. In the meantime, our carefulness in the face of doubt is fundamental to our religious lifestyle, and it would be very wrong and dangerous to abandon the phenomenon that Divine Providence arranged for us.

This idea is similar to the phenomenon of tefillin, which are appropriate for weekdays, whereas on Shabbat and Yom Tov there is no need for them because the essential sanctity is present. However, tefillin are appropriate until the exact time that Shabbat begins, including immediately before it. This is correct because the light of sanctity still has not shone and the tefillin are still needed to cause Hashem’s Torah to be in our mouths until Shabbat’s internal sanctity replaces the external catalyst.

The same is true regarding the expansion of halacha with stringencies that stem from exile and a lack of expertise. We expand many halachot and we, for example, keep two days of Yom Tov outside Israel and take double challa in Suria. Chazal attributed this phenomenon to the pasuk, “They placed me as a watchman of the vineyards” (Shir Hashirim 1:6), which they learned as follows. Because “I did not watch my own vineyard” (ibid.), i.e., the real, one day of Yom Tov when I was in Eretz Yisrael, I needed two days outside my place. Even if the expansion came for regrettable reasons, it should remain as long as it is needed.

Only when we will return to normalcy, when the light of Hashem will restore us to our true level and there will be a return of prophecy and divine inspiration, then the added stringencies will become like tefillin on Shabbat. However, that is only when that time has fully arrived, when the period will be like Shabbat, not when that time is only close to coming.
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