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Shabbat Parashat Korach 5776

Ein Ayah: Mitzvot to be Preserved and Appreciated

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:212)

Gemara: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: The laws of hekdesh (donations to the Beit Hamikdash), terumot (setting aside from produce for kohanim), and ma’asrot (setting aside from produce for levi’im) are essential matters of Torah, and they were handed over to amei ha’aretz (simple people).   


Ein Ayah: We can divide the mitzvot of the Torah into three categories: 1) those that are intended to publicize the honor of Hashem in the world; 2) those that have a practical purpose; 3) those that are a combination of the two.

Matters that are between man and his fellow man have a purpose which is simple to discern. Therefore, when a person’s fulfillment is lacking, it is not because of a lack of understanding of the matter’s value, and we need not expect the problem will expand significantly. In contrast, matters that are related to divine honor, which are a foundation of the world, can be properly understood only if one knows Torah. Despite this, the laws of such matters are handed over to amei ha’aretz, who have the potential to disrespect them because of their lack of understanding. The idea is that these great matters have the power to impact positively on the nation even when there is only partial observance.

Hekdesh is connected to divine honor, as it consists of taking something physical and sanctifying it for the purpose of the Creator, by simply making a declaration. Teruma is likewise sanctified by a statement. This is done in recognition of the important work the kohanim do in the Beit Hamikdash and to sustain them on a practical basis. So, this is an example of a combination of factors. Ma’asrot are an example of practical needs of others alone: mainly, the levi’im and the poor people. The exception is ma’aser sheni, which encourages people to spend time in the proximity to the Temple, eating holy food, and thereby increasing their likelihood of being inspired. In any case, these matters represent the three categories of mitzvot, and they were handed over to amei ha’arertz despite the danger of disgrace.

We learn from here that one should not give up hope if he sees deterioration in the regard for Torah and mitzvot in his generation. If one thinks that this means that the power of the sanctity of the Torah in that generation has been lost, he is wrong. Hashem prepared from the outset protection in that in those things to which amei ha’aretz may not show proper regard, Torah scholars will embrace them and will even be able to get amei ha’aretz to appreciate some of their sanctity. In those elements that the simple people are unable to appreciate properly, there will not be too much overall damage. The goal of these important mitzvot is to have enough people taking them seriously so that the overall goal is met, in a manner that even the amei ha’aretz are improved. If this could not be accomplished, these mitzvot would never have been given over to amei ha’aretz and would not have been considered as essential parts of the Torah. Thus, the overall benefit is reached even if some are disrespectful.

On the other hand, the standing of each individual is impacted according to his approach, and this impacts on the level of the whole. However, these problems must not break our spirit. If it were not for the best, these matters that relate to divine honor would never have been given to the masses, and thus we must be capable of protecting the mitzvot sufficiently. Our nation is capable of keeping mitzvot of the Torah even when some people do not appreciate their significance sufficiently. Thereby, the desired divine goal can still be accomplished.
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