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Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5780

Ein Ayah: Water from the Beginning of History

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:1)

Gemara: It says [in the Torah’s description of the offerings]: on the second [day of Sukkot], “v’niskeihem” (with an extra mem); on the sixth [day], “u’nesacheha” (with an extra yud); on the seventh [day], “k’mishpatam” (with an extra mem); so there is mem yud mem, which spells out mayim (water). From here there is a hint from the Torah about libations of water.


Ein Ayah: The Holiday of Sukkot, also referred to as the Holiday of Harvest, is the holiday that connects nature with the wondrous power that is beyond nature. This power emerged in the world when Bnei Yisrael appeared on the stage of human history.  

The divine wisdom, which put light into the creation of the world for a lofty purpose, places light in all of existence. This wisdom is connected to the existence of a complete world, which is adorned and connected with set rules and stands above all of them. The path that Israel took, in progressing from their liberation from Egypt until entering the Land, was that which soldered together the wonderful parts of the existence of creation into a world that is set upon firm rules of nature.

We need to look well into the past, at the primordial world, when the “spirit of Hashem was hovering over the face of the water” (Bereishit 1:2) and all of the world was water within water. In doing so, we see that even at that early stage, Hashem’s “hand” already arranged matters with great wisdom so that creation would progress toward its highest purposes.

Harvest, which comes about through orderly work that fits into the rules of nature, is also connected in our national memory to the unique sukkot (booths or miraculous clouds) at the period of time that was so formative in the history of the world (the Exodus). These lit up the darkest parts of the universe with the light of the prophetic vision provided by the God of Truth, and connected that time to that of the beginning of creation [when all was water].

It is true that one cannot tell regular people what happened in creation. However, there can be a hint in the form of letters that refers to the foundation of the world when it started to be created. That is the reason that three words from the description of Sukkot hint at the holiday’s connection to the libation done [with the primordial matter – water].  


Moshe is the Last Word

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:4)


Gemara: Is it so [that there was a change in the Torah’s letters]? Doesn’t the Torah say, “These are the mitzvot,” from which we learn that a prophet is not allowed to present anything new from that point?


Ein Ayah: The same lofty source from which elevated prophecy comes and from which permanent mitzvot come, is the foundation of the knowledge that no new mitzvot are going to come in the future. Only the trustworthy shepherd (i.e., Moshe) was chosen from way back in time to gaze into the lit mirror from which permanent mitzvot come to the world.

When Moshe’s visions were completed, it was no longer possible for new mitzvot to be added or to be renewed. The same level of revelation and openness that is found in the Torah as we received it is as special as the hidden divine messages, and they are of the same nature. They cannot therefore appear in revealed form [based on prophecy] after the wondrous and special revelation [to Moshe]. In fact, these are the mitzvot, and no prophet can add to them.



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