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Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar 5777

Ein Ayah: The Perils of Excessive Wealth for Future Generations

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:8)

Gemara: The female sheep go out on Shabbat “kevulot.” What is the meaning of “kevulot”?  Their tails were tied below them so that the male sheep would not be able to mate with them. What is the source that the word kevulot implies not being able to bear fruit? It states in Melachim I (9:13): “The kavul land until this day”. What does the word kavul imply? Rav Huna explains that the people were “kavul” with silver and gold. Rava said to him: Because they were kavul in silver and gold – He was not happy? He (Rav Huna) answered: Yes. Since they were so wealthy and spoiled, they were unproductive and did no work for the King.


Ein Ayah: The success of humanity regarding its contribution to the future of society is dependent on the connection to good results and elevation that accompany all elements of its actions. Therefore, also regarding the development of the world, the best way forward is when one generation works to add blessing to the life of the next generation. For then the creation of fruit works in a positive framework. But if things change and one generation does not add value to the next generation and even diminishes the development of the next generation, this will lead to a strange and unnatural state that will create a crisis.

Hence when wealth is gathered in a disproportionate manner in one generation in a certain society, it will diminish the value of working, and this nullification will bring about a barrenness and lack of blossoming of the land. It is the next generation that will feel the lacking. The next generation, after all, will need to be in a more developed stage, which the new generation needs to be born into due to its special needs. When the previous generation did not contribute its part, the new generation will be in a bad situation under great pressure. 

This is a truism both in material and in spiritual matters. Therefore, riches can act as a “kevel”- something that stunts the freedom of growth and development regarding work, which is the foundation for Hashem’s blessing in this world.

The gemara explains that the pasuk is referring to people who became wealthy and spoiled, and they did not work.  The freedom of the natural tendency to improve matters for the future is restrained so that “fruit” does not develop. The people will not be able to grow and compete with lands that work due to necessity. This will then be called “a kavul land until this day,” as there is no positive change as the generations pass. Therefore he stated correctly that a disproportionate amount of wealth will bring ruin to future generations, and this is against the will of the Master of All Beings, may He be blessed, Who established the land and its inhabitants. “He did not create the land to be in chaos, but rather to be settled”(Yeshayahu 45:18).

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