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Shabbat Parashat Beshalach 5777

Ein Ayah: Avoiding Direct Disagreement

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 3:1)

Gemara: Rav Zeira was avoiding Rav Yehuda because he wanted to move to Eretz Yisrael [which Rav Yehuda opposed]. 


Ein Ayah: There are, in a person’s soul, truths that he can acquire only by study and deep investigation. There are also truths that are imbedded in the depths of the soul that are more exalted than anything that can be studied or taught. 

 The important relationship between a teacher and a student relates to the category of truths that are acquired through study. There are other elements of wisdom, which a person acquires in a manner that makes them set in his heart and soul through the nature which Hashem put in his spirit. This ability comes from a person possessing some of the sanctity of Avraham Avinu, who learned without having a teacher. Chazal tell us that Hashem “made his two kidneys like two teachers, and they taught him wisdom.”

When one comes to this high level and needs to make a personal decision, he finds himself equipped with a rare power to reach truth. At that point, he is on a higher level than he can receive from a teacher or mentor because his spirit is lit with a divine light, which is the source of wisdom. Even so, the great person who is inspired in this way has the obligation to consider the possibility that the truth that is beyond that which he can learn in classic ways, may be one which is appropriate only for him personally. In that case, the general approach, which most people are to follow, is the one that is taught in the normal way by his teachers, with the student acting in a humble manner in which he accepts the authority of his teacher.

Indeed the great Rav Zeira possessed the flame of holy desire to move to Eretz Yisrael. His spirit was already at its peak and had made the holy internal decision that emanated from the depths of his heart. The divine voice had already called out powerfully to him, so that he was above the place at which he should accept the opinion of his teacher, Rav Yehuda. He was prepared to move to Eretz Yisrael against Rav Yehuda’s opinion. However, Rav Zeira never forgot the obligation to give the proper respect for his teacher, which is the foundation of the world, in all generations and all times, for all people and regarding all matters.

That is why he arranged things in a manner that it would be clear that he very much respected the great opinion of his teacher. He wanted to be careful not to violate Rav Yehuda’s words, even though the desire to move to Eretz Yisrael had become the center of his life in the present and for eternity and was the source of his lofty inclination. He, therefore, avoided Rav Yehuda so that it should not seem that he was acting in a rebellious manner toward him. Rav Zeira knew that there was significant place for Rav Yehuda’s opinion and that this was even a more generally correct approach than the one he found right for himself personally.

By avoiding Rav Yehuda, he was able to avoid facing him in a “narrow passageway” in a manner that he was contradicting his teacher’s words due to what he saw as a divine decree to personally act to move to Eretz Yisrael.  Therefore, while Rav Zeira need not and could not listen to Rav Yehuda, he wanted Rav Yehuda’s protest to remain general and not be directed specifically toward him. In that case, Rav Zeira was removed from the group of regular people and above them. “In love for her [Eretz Yisrael] will you always be occupied” (see Mishlei 5:19).

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