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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel Pekudei 5778

Ein Ayah: The Crucial Need to Recognize Ones Shortcomings

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:27)

Gemara: This is how Rava the son of Rav Ilai learned the following pasuk. That which it says, “Hashem said: Since the daughters of Israel make themselves tall” (Yeshaya 3:16) (which was the introduction to a prophecy of tragedy) refers to the fact that they would walk overly erect.


Ein Ayah: A person’s whole world can be perceived within his midst. In general in the world, we find powers that can be divided into good and bad. The bad is also supposed to exist, just that it should be subservient to the good.

So too, in the way a person stands before others, his body contains all his essence. He should know that there are strengths within him whose expansion is not a positive thing, but rather their minimization is proper. If he does minimize them, then he will be built in his full glory, [and when many act in this way], society as a whole will be complete as well.

The matter works in the following way. When one realizes his own shortcomings, he can notice that his friend has the good attribute that he is missing. He can then perfect himself by linking up with that person.

When a person realizes that within his whole persona there are elements that are lacking and should be minimized, it causes him to lessen his posture somewhat, preventing him from standing totally erect in a boastful manner that “stabs” his counterpart. When one’s blindness due to haughtiness is full-blown, he loses his world. This is because he loses his chance at an effective social life and clinging to the community in a way that the community can develop. The development can only happen when each person realizes that there are talents in which he is lacking and can look to his friend to acquire them.  

Although the issue of not looking to others for help is a real problem, it is more solvable for those who are active in society. Because they take part in important actions in the public realm, they are likely to eventually come to realize that they are lacking, and their haughtiness can come under control. Women are more passive within society, and they do not usually get as involved in its activities, especially in the intellectual and moral realms, as men do. Because “all the honor of the princess is inwards” (Tehillim 45:14), she does not have an external outlet that can show her how blind one needs to be to be conceited. This can allow bad characteristic to be entrenched.

When the mothers of Israel are lacking in these matters, then the children come out with serious moral shortcomings in these regards, and the sons’ exposure to the world will not enable them to overcome the problems. This closes the window that draws people closer to the light of elevated divine perfection. Only when one recognizes his lacking does he thirst to become complete by clinging to the divine light, which in turn enables him to operate properly within society. When things do not go right, the downward spiral can be horrible. It brings a lack of unity due to terrible haughtiness, in which everyone thinks that he is complete without receiving anything from his friend. This starts with the daughters of Israel who walk in an overly erect manner.         

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