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Shabbat Parashat Bechukotai 5778

Ein Ayah: The Complexity of Being Based on Simplicity

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:51)

Gemara: [In the previous gemara, Rav Kahana had been involved in a discussion in which he did not think a certain proof from a pasuk was viable because the pasuk was to be taken metaphorically. His partner to the discussion responded that a pasuk is not to be totally removed from its simple meaning.] Rav Kahana said: When I was eighteen years old, I had already learned all of the Talmud [as it existed at the time], but I did not know that a pasuk is not to be totally removed from its simple meaning. What does that statement teach us? That one should first accumulate knowledge and later learn how to analyze it.


Ein Ayah: Material and spiritual characteristics always develop in a coordinated manner. Therefore, values can be learned one from the other because there is a secret unity that runs through all of existence. For that reason, if something exists in one element of the world, it will exist in some similar form throughout existence, just that they differ due to the difference between the situations involved. Indeed, the material and spiritual come together under the canopy of world existence. Whatever finds expression in one finds expression in the other, with appropriate differences according to the fundamental difference between these significantly different realms. However, when we place one form of the value opposite the other, we will see that one can be learned from the other in a most complete manner.

When something physical is enhanced, it must be finished up by thereby having the person to whom it is connected be completed and grow as a person. Only when the quality and quantity of a person’s physical power is complete will the person be ready to add on more fruit of life. Our Rabbis teach us that the age of eighteen is the time for marriage (Avot 5:21). When the person in question is a man of elevated status, it is proper for this to be accompanied by the accumulation of all pertinent spiritual acquisition. This is when a person knows everything that he can by remembering what he was taught and absorbing it into his mind.

Only after he has quantitatively accumulated the material available can he move on to spiritual fertility, with analysis following the amassment of knowledge. Then the blessing of creative ideas can come forward with all its attractiveness and clarity. When one excels in this regard, he realizes that the basis for the loftiest spiritual ideas is the simplest and clearest understanding of each matter. The deeper levels are best understood when the simple explanation is clear, as that is the ground-level of spirituality upon which the rest sits. One needs great depth to understand all of the spiritual levels, not just how each one stands on its own, but how the different levels must be connected from the beginning of their growth until their most beautiful flowering. Only when the simple basis is clear will one appreciate how everything is connected in a manner that is full of life, in a truthful and permanent way.

When one begins to learn, he cannot appreciate the multi-level connection and the beauty of that which is the simplest level and how it impacts all levels. That is why first a person learns on the level that is the ultimate truth. Only afterward can he appreciate how even the simple level is as beautiful as it is and that a pasuk is not to be totally removed from its simple meaning.    

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