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Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5779

Ein Ayah: When Increased Strength Displays Constant Weakness

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:37)

Gemara: There are three animals that become more powerful when they get older: the fish, the snake, and the pig.


Ein Ayah: Advanced age adds shleimut (completeness) and spiritual illumination, which cause a person’s physical side to decline. Even though in the animal kingdom, the spiritual side is not as recognizable as it is for humans, there is an element of spirituality that is part of their being, out of which, in the future ideal times, they will also be elevated with the whole world.  

However, regarding those species that are strongly entrenched in the darkness of physicality, advanced age does not add spirituality, and they therefore are not weakened by advanced age but actually add strength. Three areas in which mankind has relatively strong spiritual tendencies are: modesty in matters of sexuality; justice; beauty. Even regarding the animal kingdom as a whole, these values have a root and seed. These spiritual tendencies cause a separation between the spirit and the body, which causes weakness during old-age.

In each of these areas, there is a species that has an extreme tendency in the direction of coarse physicality rather than spirituality. Fish have a strong tendency toward sexuality without any element of keeping a distance; snakes are symbols of pure evil, without any tendency toward justice; pigs are involved in a physicality of ugliness, which is the opposite of a beautiful spirituality. Therefore, these threes species have nothing that holds back their physical side from strengthening, as their lives consist of the physical side. In contrast, the human spirit strives to be more holy, just, and glorious. Therefore, in old age, the tendency toward removal from sexuality separates humans from such matters and weakens them, allowing them to have more advantages over animals. “Not with multitudes or with strength, but with the spirit of Hashem” (see Zecharia 4:6).  


Seeking the Fullest Level of Beauty

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:39)


Gemara: The amount of lime [that needs to be carried in the public domain in order to desecrate Shabbat] is enough to apply to the small finger of girls.  


Ein Ayah: Beauty is a form of shleimut, and when something is missing from the matter, a small amount can make a big difference. One of the methods used by females in beautification is to apply lime [to remove hair]. Those who take the matter seriously may make sure that even their small finger has lime applied to it so that it not be left unbeautified. Since it can make even a small difference, the amount of lime used for a small finger was chosen as the amount whose carrying is of significance. Specifically, it follows the finger of a girl, because beauty applies to girls, and they are in the habit of taking artificial steps to get to a point of shleimut. This is similar to the realm of natural beauty, which also has to be complete.

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