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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5778

Ein Ayah: Yud the Transition from Quantity to Quality

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:21)

Gemara: Abaye said: The letter yud of the tefillin (formed by the straps of the tefillin shel yad) are a halacha l’Moshe miSinai (it was handed down orally by Hashem to Moshe at Sinai).


Ein Ayah: Life and everything that can be observed in the world can be divided between quality and quantity. The hard work that people put themselves through and the complications within society can be attributed to the fact that people do not know how to look at riches in the world from its qualitative perspective, but only from its quantitative perspective. In truth, the quantitative outlook is blinding and deceiving.

It is only if a nation accesses lofty divine light that it can elevate itself to the point that they can look only at the qualitative fortune and not care if the quantitative fortune appears very paltry. At the end, though, the “honor will eventually come,” as the qualitative riches will have an impact on the quantity as well. However, when will the riches be acquired in a proper way? It will be when the nation clings to the qualitative in a deep and internal manner, even under conditions to which one who is interested in physical plenty will vehemently object.

This special relationship is Hashem’s present to Israel, as the pasuk says: “For Yaakov has been chosen by Hashem, Israel, to be His special nation” (Tehillim 135:4). Israel also chose the one Hashem to cleave to with love and scorned the many false gods because Israel realized their nothingness and emptiness, and this will elevate them forever.

In the beginning of the cognitive process, when the nation was on a lower level, the heart stood surprised and disappointed with the small quantity of material gain. However, that turns into great wealth, when they possess everything they could want. “The portion of Israel is not like that of the others, for He is the Creator of everything” (Yirmiyahu 10:16).

The above principles are symbolically connected to the letter yud. It is the smallest letter, but, numerically, having a gematria of 10, represents the first jump into greater quantity by starting the next digit, which then leads to the possibility of other digits being added. This is the characteristic that completes one’s level and stops the spiritual contamination of the snake, which follows the coarse desires of what it sees with its eyes.

Now let us connect all the lessons of the letters of the tefillin that are halacha l’Moshe miSinai (see the previous two pieces in Ein Ayah), which show us a balanced outlook at life that shows true unity. The shin shows that even those lines that come from different directions lead to one point. The dalet shows a tendency toward the right, toward the optimal way of doing things. The yud represents the internal decision to love quality over the accumulation of a multitude of objects that increase one’s material collection. These three ideas prepare a person to exist in the “shade of Hashem,” (using His Name that is spelled shin-yud-dalet) who has enough (a play on the word “she-dai”) in His ability as the Lord to provide for all live beings and who told His world that it has expanded sufficiently.

In contrast to the limitations imposed by operating in a world of quantity, one can be embraced by a limitless flow of light of the world, which constantly increases its share of divine dew that gives life to spirits. This provides the light of life to the entire universe, granting salvation, wisdom, and justice, which flow from the knowledge of Hashem and the true ways of His goodness. This crowns Israel in glory, in a path that finds expression in the laws of the Torah that were passed down to Israel by Moshe at Sinai.
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