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Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei 5780

Ein Ayah: The Reaction to an Overwhelming Revelation

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:91-92)

Gemara: With each of the commandments that Hashem spoke, the souls of Israel left them, as the pasuk says: “My spirit departed as I spoke with him” (Shir Hashirim 5:6). Considering that their soul departed after the first commandment, how did they receive the second one? Hashem brought down dew for resuscitating the dead and revived them, as it says, “You, Hashem, poured rain of giving; when Your portion was tired, You sustained them” (Tehillim 68:10). With each of the commandments that Hashem spoke, the people retreated 12 mil (several miles), and the angels had them jump forward, as the pasuk says, “Malchei tzeva’ot  yidodun yidodun” (Tehillim ibid. 13) – read it as “yedadun” (they will cause others to jump). 


Ein Ayah: When the light of limitless light, which is the source of the life of individuals, is revealed, the limited life of individuals implodes and is made small like a candle in the face of a torch. Hashem’s speech at Sinai caused the flow of limitless light, which caused the souls of Israel to leave them, as the souls were swept away by the flow.   

However, when there is no limited individual life, the live element of the divine speech cannot be projected onto people. So the gemara asks how there could have been a second commandment after the departure of the soul. The remedy could only come from the full light of life, which contradicts death – this is the dew that descends from Hashem. It makes lowlier people become capable of reaching great spiritual heights. When the lower-level life, with all its dreariness, ceased, Hashem gave Israel the ability to live on a higher level. This occurred even though Israel had not yet reached that level themselves. It was made possible with the help of the divine dew, even though it is on a lower level of spirituality than will exist in the future. This help to Hashem’s portion, Bnei Yisrael, who had become worn out, was arranged directly by Hashem.

[Besides the exit of their souls, the people were also forced into a retreat of twelve mil.] When there is powerful, heavenly light, which is much higher than those who are supposed to receive it, it must fill the recipient with a certain darkness, which draws them away from the close connection to the light. When the recipient retreats to a “shadier” place, the lessening of the intimidating shining of light prepares them to jump back quickly, not in a measured manner. The return is also not based on an internal revelation of spiritual strength, but by the addition of a new source of power and life.

There becomes a merging together of two lights – the lightening-like brilliant light and the “darker” light, which a normal individual is able to appreciate. It is actually the lower light, which comes from a place of humility and relative lowliness, that will be the source of spiritual advantage. It will be the anger that turns into laughter and the tears that turn into rejoicing with eternal grandeur.

Indeed, from the light that accompanied Hashem’s speech, the people retreated twelve mil, [which was the size of their encampment,] representing their full stature. They became full of the lower light that enables them to receive the higher light. It was the angels who returned them, as they represent the higher form of spirituality in the world. They needed to take the spirituality they had from serving Hashem and impart some to Israel.

The return to the place of more intense sanctity did not progress in an orderly manner, but came in jumps of surprise. They did not have to create something new, but shine on Israel special powers that were hidden but were prepared to emerge. The group of angels who carried this out were like a torch of life-giving light. Because we sat in darkness, Hashem was a light for us.

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