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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel 5776

Ein Ayah: Backing Up Emotions with Fear of Hashem

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:159)

Gemara: Reish Lakish said: What is referred to by the pasuk (Yeshaya 33:6): “And it shall be the belief of your times, the power, the salvations of, the wisdom of, and the knowledge”? “ The belief of” refers to the Order of Zeraim (agricultural laws); “your times” refers to the Order of Mo’ed (the holidays); “the power” refers to the Order of Women (family law); “the salvations of” refers to the Order of Nezikin (monetary law); “the wisdom of” refers to the Order of Kodashim (laws of the Temple); “and the knowledge” refers to the Order of Taharot (laws of purity). Even so, “fear of Hashem is its storehouse” (ibid.)


Ein Ayah: All of the pleasant things that are of value in a person’s life, especially in bringing him to the ways of Torah, can be attractive to a person when he reaches this desired purity of his heart and spirit. As lofty as that state is, when his Torah becomes one with his flesh and blood and he becomes a symbol of honor and “his heart and flesh will sing praise to the living G-d” (based on Tehillim 84:3), there is still danger. 

If he is drawn in by that which is truly pleasant in the world, such as sanctity, purity, and uprightness, based on his feelings and instinct, his connection to these things is limited and subject to change. After all, every man has falsehood in him (see Tehillim 116:11). The greatest ideas are only as great to a person as his own level at a given time. They are just a sign that there are great ideas that emerge from the light of truth shining on the pure spirit that is sanctified from its impurity and follows the divine with simple truth and great wisdom. It is not wise to trust a human’s small heart to make it the storehouse for such great things.

Not only do man’s perceptions change, but even the loftiest perceptions he is capable of are not authentic. Therefore, the greatest and safest approach is that man’s perception should be put in line with the absolute divine perception – with the divine knowledge and dominion that transcends all boundaries and human thoughts.

This is the foundation of fear of Hashem, which also emerges from love of Him. Love is built on the elements of the divine that we can observe and appreciate, although it extends from that point to boundless loftiness. Fear of Hashem is based on the recognition that one must negate that which is improper. This is related to the foundation of truth that is responsible for the value of every desirable thing, whether practical or philosophical, which is at the depth and height of godliness and the power of the infinite. This is a storehouse of life, and all that is stored there is unchanging.

The changes in a person’s feelings can help him picture different concepts of goodness and sanctity in a way that extends beyond normal bounds. Therefore, even after one has uncovered broad truths through the study of Torah as described by the pasuk that the gemara analyzes, it is not his internal feelings and perceptions that are critical. Rather, the storehouse is fear of Hashem. It is the fear that comes with the recognition that goodness and truth lie together with the source of goodness and truth. It is only along with a fear of purity that one can approach the great acquisitions that are stored in the treasure houses. These last eternally, and their great power influences all the good that they are supposed to eternally supply the individual and the collective.

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