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Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei 5775

Ein Ayah: Divine Support of the Sick

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 1:50)

Gemara: How do we know that the Divine Presence supports the ill? It is as it says, “Hashem will support him on his bed of anguish” (Tehillim 41:4).


Ein Ayah: Spiritual powers operate significantly to strengthen physical powers. Consolation, love, and all the emotions of integrity and altruism that enter man’s soul, calmly and with a good heart, strengthen not only his spiritual powers, but even his physical power. This is in line with the pasuk, “Fear of Hashem shall add days” (Mishlei 10:27). In contrast, jealousy, desires, seeking honor, anger, dissatisfaction, lack of faith, and ill-heartedness have a negative effect on the foundations of the body.

Hashem put into the human characteristic that at the time of his illness, when his physical side is on the verge of collapse and even death due to his overall weakness, his spiritual side has the tendency of being strengthened and positive powers are awakened. In place of a bad heart and a difficult spirit comes a heart of tender flesh. Holy images draw closer to his heart, even though they were distant from him when he was healthy because of the coarse materialism that ruled over him. Belief in Hashem and hope well up within him, and this provides him with support for his waning strength.

This is actually a case of Hashem supporting him, and this is indeed a purpose of the disease in the first place – to elevate man from his material lowness. A person is not extricated from disease without receiving atonement for sins, as is hinted in Iyov 33:25. This situation itself strengthens the powers of his spirit, and this added spiritual vigor strengthens his physical side, as the pasuk says, “A man’s spirit gives strength in his illness” (Mishlei 18:14).   


Half of One’s Lifetime 

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 1:56)


Gemara: There was a student who learned a lot of Mishna and Torah and studied a lot with Torah masters, and he died at half of his lifetime. [The gemara goes on to tell that this occurred because he was particularly lenient in his personal life when it came to family purity.]


Ein Ayah: The days of a person’s life can be broken up into two parts. The first part is when he completes himself, both in the physical realm and afterward in the Torah realms of knowledge and understanding and in the realm of ethics. In the second part of his lifetime, he should begin to influence others, sharing the goodness he has developed with those younger than he, so that they too can follow the straight path.

There are people who have ruined their standing in their personal development, and they are not even worthy of receiving a complete first stage of their life. About them the pasuk says, “Men of blood and trickery will not have even half of their days” (Tehillim 55:24).

In contrast, the young scholar about whom the gemara spoke was fit to complete his allotted days from a personal perspective. His shortcoming, which made it necessary for him to die, did not have to with his personal development but on the impact that his actions could cause in the future.

His problem was in regard to the second part of his life, which has to do with preparing the next generation and the impact on young people with whom he would come into contact. He was liable to cause deterioration in those who would receive from him. The small fissure in the scholar could turn into major deficiencies in those whom he would lead. That is why he died at half his lifetime, to avoid those dangerous outcomes and to allow others to train the next generation in the correct way.

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