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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5777

Ein Ayah: Leaving Everyone and Everything Behind

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:267)

Gemara: [Rabbi Shimon and his son left the beit midrash] and hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob tree and a wellspring were created. They removed their clothes and would sit up to their necks in sand. All day they would learn.


Ein Ayah: When Rabbi Shimon and his son reached the peak of intellectual elevation, the environment of the beit midrash was no longer able to absorb the great glow of their research and their lofty thoughts. That is when Hashem arranged matters so that all of society would be distanced from them, for they had far surpassed everyone else.

That is why they hid in a cave, a place where the multitude of living people, with all of their imaginations, could not approach them and disturb their lofty scholarship. At this point, Rabbi Shimon and his son lacked even the slightest need to be connected to social life, whose members had no chance of reaching the bar of their ultra-demanding moral and intellectual standards.

This is the reason that their food came specifically by means of miracle. They were supported from a carob tree, as it is a sign of a society where people have loving concern for others, as one who plants a carob tree does not usually live long enough to enjoy its fruit. Rather, he plants for future generations, as previous generations did for him. Therefore, this is most appropriate for the great intellect of geniuses of the generation, who connect to the greatest benefits of all time, the intellectual treasures that are passed from generation to generation.

The wellspring of water came to them from nature itself by means of a miraculous divine act. It is the most pure of elements, unrelated to any human intervention, which could contaminate it in any way with materialistic tendencies. Even remnants of society, such as clothes, could not fit their present intellectual heights and visions of life, in which they left the lowliness of the present behind them. That is why they removed their clothes and sat in sand up to their necks.  


Prayer – A Time to Connect to Society

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:268)


Gemara: When Rabbi Shimon and his son prayed, they wore their clothes and prayed and then removed their clothes again so that they would not get worn out.


Ein Ayah: Prayer is related to emotions, and, therefore, it has a connection to social life. Therefore, specifically at the time of prayer did Rabbi Shimon and his son allow themselves to use something that was man-made. This required something connected to human interaction, as imperfect as that is, as during prayer it is necessary to address the needs of the present.

In truth, one can be on the highest level and still find advantage in social life, and this can fit in with the highest and holiest intellectual level. There were times that even after prayer, Rabbi Shimon and his son remained in a situation that they could have remained connected to society. This was as long as the light of divine emotion that is related to the intellect reached the highest possible level, so that it properly connected to all elements of life. However, they reserved this rare state for the times that it was most needed, which was the time of prayer. At that time, it was easier to preserve the connection between the intellect, emotion, and society because that was their focus at the time of prayer.

Therefore, on a regular basis, they would remove their clothes (i.e., their connection to society), so that they not get worn out. At the time of their learning, when they had no natural need to be connected to society, it would have been difficult for them to preserve this connection.

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