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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha 5779

Ein Ayah: Philosophical Selection

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 7:2)

Gemara: Rav Bibi was interacting with the talmidim. Rav Ami and Rav Asi came. Rav Bibi threw a basket of fruit before them. It was not clear if it was because he holds that it is forbidden to take the desired food from the undesired food [on Shabbat] or because [putting all before them] was a sign of generosity.


Ein Ayah: The melacha of borer (selecting), besides being a forbidden activity on Shabbat, also reminds us about the selecting one is supposed to do in the spiritual realm.

Sometimes someone has to separate the undesired from the desired, meaning that one throws away every destructive idea, every deceitful opinion, and every bad tendency. This is the more common way to go about selecting between good and bad.

However, there is another way – to take out that which is desired from among that which is not desired. From among all the many undesired things, one picks out and takes that which is good, and as a result it turns out that that which is bad is no longer among that which he wants. Great people are able to do this, and the spiritual tendencies are able to connect to practical life, and so this can be considered a form of selecting.

People with great ideas like to work more than they like to enjoy. What is considered a favorable situation is when a “field that needs to be worked lays before them,” so that they can “toil with their hands.” They would rather receive more in an unrefined form, and they will finish up that which needs to be done. It is indeed toil and work, but these are things they like, as overcoming the challenges is what gives them satisfaction. That is why, symbolically, it could be said that they received the whole pile as a sign of generosity.    


Connecting to Set ideas

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 7:3)


Gemara: Where was tying done in the Mishkan? Rava said: They would tie things to the stakes that held the tent in place.


Ein Ayah: Tying, in addition to being done in order to bring together different parts, also connects that which is movable with that which is set in place for the long term. This also has a parallel in the philosophical world. There are thoughts that are fleeting and do not have a firm status, and these [can be salvaged] by connecting them to ideas that are set and eternal.  These greater ideas that are connected to all thoughts have divine thought at their basis. The place that secures all the ideas is spread out like a tent in the breadth of the soul and its deep ideas. This is hinted at by the gemara’s observation that they would tie things to the stakes of the tent.

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