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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5779

Ein Ayah: Torah of this World Relevant in the Next

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:6)

Gemara: One should not miss the beit midrash (study hall) and words of Torah even at the time of death, as it says: “This is the Torah: Should a person die in a tent” (Bamidbar 19:14). We see that even at the time of death, he should be involved in Torah.


Ein Ayah: The purpose of normal ethical teachings in the world, within which Torah excels in its power and sanctity, is to fix social life so that people will interact in a good way. Therefore, general teachings of morality are based on their impact on “temporary life.” As long as a person is connected to life, these teachings have value.

In contrast, the teachings of Hashem are loftier than that. Even matters of Torah that are indeed connected to the improvement of society are founded in such a way that the spirit of the community and individual citizens will be prepared for the World to Come. Therefore the Torah is just as relevant for one who is about to die and join eternal life as it is for one who will be living in this world for the foreseeable future.  

This relevance applies not just to the Torah itself, but also to those things that surround and supplement it – the “tent” in which it is studied, the learned study partner, and the intellectually elevating atmosphere of the study hall. While these appear to only be important for the value of friendship during one’s lifetime, they are actually significant deep in the “fabric” of eternity and sanctity that they elevate. That is why one can derive from the pasuk, “This is the Torah: Should a person die in a tent,” that one should strive to be in the beit midrash, fully involved in Torah study right up to his death. The words of the Torah bring light and sanctity to the practical life at the “bottom of the land.” Therefore, it is proper to be in the partnership with scholarly friends who love and desire His Torah with all their vitality, for in the light of the life of eternity they will go continually from strength to strength.


Connected at the Highest Point

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:7)


Gemara: The words of Torah will last only for one who “kills himself” over them, as the Torah says: “This is the Torah: Should a person die in a tent” (Bamidbar 19:14).


Ein Ayah: The absolute connection that the loftiest spiritual content can have with the spirit of one who strives for it depends on the highest point of the lofty matter. When a person turns toward this high point, he elevates himself to the highest level that he can perceive. Then every element of his personality, from the large to the small, is dedicated to this holy goal.

If the value of Torah finds expression only in the realm of life, it will not succeed in actualizing sufficient aspirations to be willing to roll back his involvement in the physical world needed to reach the highest levels. Torah will not take permanent hold of him as long as his interest in it is limited to the lower level of Torah – that in which it improves the life of society, whether by personal attributes or by actions. In contrast, things are much greater when one connects his internal desire to the highest element of Torah. This element is more special than all of life itself and allows a person to limit his physical world because Torah fills his heart. This is done with recognition that this high Torah is the treasure of the lofty life, which is more profound than that of this life of finite time. This recognition connects all of the details of the Torah in a broad light, so that it forms one torch along with the spirit of the person who learns, and it is this that stays with him. When this person “dies in the tent,” he constantly lives a complete life – “for he who finds Me has found life” (Mishlei 8:35).
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