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Shabbat Parashat Pinchas 5777

Ein Ayah: The Value of Unsuccessful Rebuke

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:17)

Gemara: R. Zeira said to R. Simon: “You should rebuke the House of the Exilarch.” He answered: “They will not listen to me.” R. Zeira responded: “You should rebuke them even if they will not listen.”


Ein Ayah: The greatest moral aspirations, which are the light of the world and the basis for human life, must always be recognizable for their great intrinsic importance. These moral aspirations are more important for their holy energy and goodness than for the practical results they may bring. Positive results are nice finishes to the spiritual desires, which adorn the efforts, but there is nothing lacking even if and when nothing positive actualizes.

All hishtadlut (attempts to do something desirable) should always be forthcoming from anyone who has the spirit that enables him to actualize matters, at least to the extent of speaking in a forceful manner that could possibly be accepted. There are times that they will not be accepted because society’s lowly state prevents positive ideas from being implemented. When the social structure is skewed, even those who are capable of implanting positive change do not reach the necessary heights to do so.

This, though, is specifically a good time to utilize the strong tool of logical rebuke, which the community’s lay leaders should be able to accept, even if in practice they will not. The spiritual beauty of the ideas themselves is valuable. Also, we are confident that these efforts will form the basis for future spiritual improvements, when the time will be right. Even in the present, these efforts can help, unnoticed, curtail further deterioration.

Therefore, those who are in a position to use their oratory and spiritual abilities to rebuke should do so even if they do not expect positive results.


The Advantage of Good Over Bad

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:18)


Gemara: Never did a positive promise turn into something negative except …


Ein Ayah: Things have an intrinsic purpose in regard to their being a means of getting to a greater goal. It is intrinsically worthwhile to act toward the prospect of positive things. Negative things lack intrinsic value, although they have value for being an eventual conduit for the development of future good.

Considering Hashem’s attribute of goodness, only good things should be happening. On the other hand, the greatest good is the ethical good, which requires people to be fully good internally. Therefore, it is necessary for there to be real goodness and justice, so that man not only receive good but be good.

Since the goal is that there should be goodness in a broad manner, when Hashem pledges to provide something good, there is an expectation of two positive things: the coming of the good thing and preparation for an even better thing in the future. Sometimes a person’s circumstances change and the good that was foreseen as being able to provide future good no longer is destined to bring that state. Still, though, the positive pledge has value for its own sake, and Hashem can find other means to arrive at the ultimate good. Therefore, the direct good will still occur for its own intrinsic value. In this way, there is rationale for the rule that pledged good generally will continue to be kept, for its own sake, even when there is reason to suspend it.

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Benzion ben Rachel

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