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Shabbat Parashat Pekudei 5779

Ein Ayah: The Spiritual Complexity of a Land-Based Spirituality

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:4)

Gemara: R. Chanina ben Akavia said: Why did they say that the boats of the Jordan River are impure? It is because they are loaded on dry land and taken down to the river.


Ein Ayah: [A body of] water is pure and purifies other things; it cannot become impure. Metaphorically, water represents hidden spirituality, divine wisdom that a man’s “hand” and intellectual abilities cannot control. It is as Chazal say: “The fish of the sea are covered by water, and evil eye has no impact over them” (Berachot 20a).

Lofty concepts flow from the purity of divine intellect onto a worthy person through his preparing his spirit, improving his actions, thoughts, attributes, and personality so that Hashem’s spirit falls upon him from the divine blessing of the sea of Torah and wisdom. Hidden spirituality joins the spiritual side that a person is aware of, which he incorporates into his thoughts. The two types of spirituality can be compared to dry ground (open) and sea (concealed). The latter is pure and flows from the divine “wellspring,” from which man’s soul originates.

At times, man receives lofty spiritual outlooks not from their direct source but through the world of the physical senses and logic, which are represented metaphorically by the world of mundane, “dry” spirituality. He may take these outlooks into the world of “great waters.” In such a case, vigilance is crucial. Such a “boat of the Jordan River” has contact with dry land, where it is loaded. Even when it is lowered into the water, it has the characteristic of land. Then, limited human logic may meet spiritual intellect because the contents of the “boat” were loaded on land. True, it is now connected to the world of the internal and lofty divine spirit within man’s soul. There is great purity in this boat, as its foundation is built upon divine matters, which Hashem bequeathed to man’s spirit, according to man’s level of preparation to receive it, as Chazal said: “One who sanctifies himself below is sanctified from above (Yoma 39a). “They shall throw upon them pure water” (Yechezkel 36:25), and they will be purified.       


Not Missing Sudden Inspiration

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:5)


Gemara: A person should never refrain from being in the beit midrash (study hall) for even a moment, for this halacha [above] was learned in the beit midrash for many years without its reason being revealed until Rav Chanina bar Akavia came and explained it.


Ein Ayah: Some intellectual insights linger on and are available to all those in the area to deal with at any time they want. Yet, there are also “lightning bolts” that appear only at specific times, although they are products of constant diligence. It is just not obvious how they came to be when they did.  

For this reason, one should not miss an opportunity to be in the beit midrash by reasoning that he can make up the time later. Sometimes a moment of inspiration will cause a spiritual light to be discovered, and one will not be exposed to the greatness at a different time.

As an example, the halacha about the boat of the Jordan had been known for years, but its reason had not been known. To appreciate the reason [see above] about the fact that an idea that comes from a less spiritual source can become defiled is one that could not be appreciated if it had been known all those years. It required a burst of inspiration to realize how the mundane impacts on the sacred in this context. It could be lost by one who was out of the beit midrash for even a short time. “Fortunate is he who listens to Me to diligently frequent My doors daily to guard the posts of My opening, for those who find Me find life, and will have Hashem’s good will” (Mishlei 8:34-5).

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