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Shabbat Parashat Tazria 5776

Ein Ayah: A Man of Fear of Sin

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:172)

Gemara: Rabbi Simon and Rabbi Elazar were sitting. Rabbi Yaakov bar Acha passed by. One said to his friend: “Let us stand up before him, for he is a man who is fearful of sin.” The other one said to him: “Let us stand up before him, for he is a man who is a son of Torah.”


A Man of Fear of Sin

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:172)


Ein Ayah: Standing up before a talmid chacham and before people of stature improves the soul by getting it used to having a perception of something noble that inspires he who stands and causes him to act properly. By strengthening the reaction to good people, he will also improve his reaction to every good deed and display of pleasant morality, so that instead of being passive, he will act and be inspired. That is the reason that standing up is a good way to express honor for someone, for the purpose of honor for people of stature is so their influence should be as clear and active as possible.

It is possible for a person to acquire a certain degree of stature or a certain characteristic, but in a manner that does not fit in with his general behavior. As one example, it is possible for a person to be fearful of sin, but the significance of this fact is lessened because the essence of his personality is weak due to feebleness of the body or the spirit or to lack of awareness. In other words, it can be that the reason he does not seek sin is because he does not see doing bad as a viable choice the way most people do. Such a person does not know how to do bad, and thus it cannot fully be said that he chose to avoid it due to fearfulness of sin. We can call him “fearful of sin” but not “a man who is fearful of sin.” The purpose of the Torah is to fulfill the pasuk (Vayikra 18:5): “… that a person should do them and live by them.” In other words, we are referring to one whose powers of the body and the spirit are all fully intact and with all that vibrancy chose to lead a more sacred and lofty life, in which he is close to Hashem and follows His path. That is why it stresses “a man,” one who is full of vigor, which gives greater significance to his fear of sin.

Since that which is active in such a person is his own essence, the desire for goodness is already in his benevolent soul. He uses the Torah path to make sure that his spirit desires only the good and not the bad. Therefore, the full picture of his fearfulness of sin is in play when he stays away from sin.


A Son of Torah

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:173)


Ein Ayah: The positive effect that comes from recognizing he who deserves honor comes when the honorable person had to work hard and with good intentions. Then when people honor him, they will come to work harder to try to get closer to goodness. There are times when practical morality is found naturally in special people who were blessed with successful personalities and characteristics. Therefore, fear of sin is not always a measure of one’s choice to embrace goodness.

Every person is born wild. However, when he inculcates himself with Torah, he merits to not only be called one who knows Torah but “a son of Torah.” That is a sign that the Torah trained him the way a mother trains her son in a good, upright lifestyle. Such a person is fit for honor so that the ones who honor him will also strive to occupy themselves with Torah. Indeed, the crown of Torah is ownerless, so that whoever wants to come and acquire it can do so (Rambam, Talmud Torah 3:1).
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