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Shabbat Parashat Vaeira 5776

Ein Ayah: A Name and a Title

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:129)

Gemara: [The man who was trying to upset Hillel asked a total of three questions in as annoying a manner as he could, and still he did not succeed in angering Hillel at all. Finally, the man complained and revealed his motives, this too in an insulting manner.] [The man asked]: “Are you Hillel, who people call the Nasi (Leader) of Israel. Hillel answered: “Yes.” He said: If it is you, may there not be many like you in Israel!” He said to him: “Why, my son?” He said to him: “Because you caused me to lose 400 zuz.”


A Name and a Title

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:129)


Ein Ayah: There are people who hold an important title for which they are naturally fit. In such a case, it is fitting to refer to the person by his title without even needing to mention his name. That is because his personal status is totally overshadowed by his position by means of his capabilities fitting his position exactly.

There are some who, while they do not excel to the point that they are uniquely qualified for their position, are elevated spiritually by the position to the point that they are worthy of it. Then, they are able to do wonderful things for others. Such a person should not be synonymous with his position, as his individual characteristics still play a major role in defining the extent of his capabilities and character. However, it is appropriate to refer to him by his name and position together.

There is also a person who is so lowly in comparison to his title that the position cannot elevate his spiritual level. For such a person, his title will be treated as incidental, and it will not be attached to his name, as if it describes him. The chutzpadik man referred to Hillel as “Hillel, who people call the nasi,” as if the title did not really describe him innately. He brazenly was insinuating that Hillel remained a simple person with an individual name without having raised himself to a level that could be connected to the important position of nasi.



Raising the Level of Chutzpa

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:132)


Ein Ayah: With the chutzpadik man’s wish that there not be many people in Israel like Hillel, he raised the level of the insult. It showed that there was some external factor that was bothering him and not allowing him to accept Hillel’s greatness. He could have said that he had a problem with Hillel’s leadership, but that as an individual, he did not have a problem with Hillel. Instead, he wanted to stress that even as a simple member of Bnei Yisrael, Hillel was an unwanted person. This was the highest level of chutzpa.

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