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Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5775

Ein Ayah: Outside Is No Place for a Voter

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 1:79)

[This piece is a continuation of the discussion of the halachic dispute between Shamai and Hillel about the need for purity in dealing with wine and oil. Rav Kook had explained that the philosophical debate was the extent to which it was wise to demand of the populace that their joy and/or pleasure be limited to matters of purity and mitzva. As the gemara continues, the two sides prepared to take a vote on the proposed laws in question.]


Gemara: They announced: “One who wants to enter [the Beit Midrash] may enter, but one who wants to leave may not leave.”


Ein Ayah: At a time that the generation is corrupt and the people need to be supported in the good, straight path of the Torah, the outlook of the leaders must always be to the Torah, as finds expression in the life in the Beit Midrash. That is the place from which one can properly see how life is supposed to be lived.

However, if one wishes to incorporate into the discussion in the Beit Midrash elements of the corrupt atmosphere that exists in the marketplace, the intention will be ruined. It is like a doctor who must approach the task of healing a patient from the perspective of the wisdom of medicine, not from the perspective of the desired lifestyle of people who ruined their health by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Along those lines, all agreed that he who wanted to enter could enter, but he who desired to leave could not leave. In other words, the dispute would be decided by means of the depth of the wisdom of the Torah, which encompasses everything and leads to a proper and straight path. One should not go out to see how the matter looks from the perspective of the world outside the Beit Midrash. One who sees the corruption and the tendency towards lack of control and uncurbed desires may give up on the possibility to lead the nation toward joy that is reserved for purity and mitzva. One who wants to leave the Beit Midrash and join the masses cannot be involved in the decisions for the Nation of Hashem. Rather, the backbone of the nation must always be the stalwarts who use Torah as the basis for their decisions.

Therefore, one who wants to enter, breathe the spirit of wisdom from the Beit Midrash, and be included in the group which is deciding, may do so. However, members of the group should not go outside. It is true that those giving guidance need to know the way of practical life and realize the people’s needs in order to bring goodness and completeness to the world. However, they should not be swayed by the corrupt lifestyle caused by the generation’s deterioration and certainly not incorporate these in decisions. Even one who usually does go out and knows how to use what is happening in the world to rule in matters of Torah should not go out now. Yes, he should know what is happening so that he knows what is corrupt so that he can “patch up the holes.” However, going out to help shape his decision at the time of voting can cause an abuse of Torah.

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