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Shabbat Parashat Bereishit 5777

Ein Ayah: Levels of National Love

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:262)

Gemara: Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi, and Rabbi Shimon were sitting, and Yehuda from a family of converts was sitting near them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and said: “How pleasant are the actions of this nation (the Romans)! They set up marketplaces, set up bridges, and set up bathhouses.” Rabbi Yossi was silent. Rabbi Shimon said: “All that they did, they did for their own sake” …Yehuda from the family of converts told what they said, and the rulers found out [Rashi – he told the rabbis’ students or his mother and father. He did not intend to tell the rulers, but he was the cause of their finding out].


Ein Ayah: Mistakes come into the world because it is difficult to acquire a good foundation upon which carefulness for a certain matter is based. Even though one wants to be careful because he understands that it is proper to accept the responsibility of the mitzva of attaining this good attribute, still mistakes lurk along the way.

Some people already received, as a natural acquisition from the human emotional perspective, the principle upon which the mitzva is built. Such a person already has internal protection, in the depth of his spirit, from mistake, and he will not stumble.

Converts are an appendage to Israel. They link up to the nation and draw close with great love. However, the deep and pure love of the nation, which is natural for one who is born Jewish, does not become fully inculcated into convert families until generations have passed. As the gemara (Sanhedrin 94a) says: “Do not insult a non-Jew in the presence of a convert, up to ten generations.” Of course there are exceptions to this rule, as especially lofty converts create a full emotional connection quickly.

Yehuda, the son of converts, was unable to reach the level of natural connection to the nation to have the inner recognition, out of love for Israel, to be deeply careful to avoid something that could harm them. He thus did not consider the danger in repeating the lofty words of Rabbi Shimon, which were contrary and critical of the Roman ways, as they highlighted the crucial differences between Israel and the nations. That is why he was not careful, and his words made it to Roman ears. 


Keeping the Holiness in the Beit Midrash

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:264)


Gemara: The Romans said: “… Shimon, who criticized, shall be killed.” He and his son went and hid in the beit midrash (study hall).


Ein Ayah: The many causative events that Hashem orchestrates are always designed to arrange every matter in its correct place. According to Rabbi Shimon and his son’s high level, the “air of the world” and the normal social setting were not fit to handle their highly demanding guidance and standards. This is what caused Rabbi Shimon to protest the common practices and leadership of the time. When great spiritual ideas are not ready to be accepted practically, it is negative for them to be revealed because their lack of acceptance lowers their honor. That is because it is not possible to give the due respect to ideas that people cannot implement and will therefore reject.

For this reason, the divine plan was for Rabbi Shimon and his son to hide in a beit midrash. Before the spiritual elite, albeit lower than their own, they would be able to share their deep ideas. Once the higher echelons were able to accept these ideas, they were able to “spread out” in the world, so that the general public could be more capable of accepting them. At least, it enabled their teachings to be preserved for those in future generations who would look for such lights.

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