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Shabbat Parashat Chukat 5780

Ein Ayah: Going toward or Away from Certainty

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:9-10)

Gemara: [The luchot could be read from both sides, but the words were read differently in opposite directions, and the gemara looks at what some words would turn into.] “Rahav” (obvious confidence) and “bahar (on the mountain) [are one set of inverted words]. Saru (they strayed) and varas (no obvious meaning) are another.


Ein Ayah: Rahav represents that a person at first is elevated in a manner that he recognizes his importance. It can be a confidence of sanctity, as the pasuk describes: “He raised his heart in the paths of Hashem” (Divrei Hayamim II, 17:6). But then he becomes even more elevated, and he reaches the level that is represented by “on the mountain,” referring to the mountain upon which “Hashem desired to dwell” (Sinai (see Tehillim 68:17)). Sinai was a low mountain, from which we learn that Hashem is with the downtrodden. This is the reading from the inside, which has precedence over that which is read from the outside.

We now analyze saru and varas. The intellectual information in all elements of conception that Hashem opened up for man begins with the tendency toward doubt. The next stage is to reach a supposition of truth, which is related to the idea of deciding something based on a majority, as the pasuk says: “Follow the majority in your decisions” (Shemot 23:2). While it does not create a certainty, it is a step in that direction, which the spirit can follow after leaning toward the holy content of truth which becomes ever brighter within him.

These progressions are hinted at by the acronyms of “saru and “varus.” Saru stands for safek (doubt), rov (majority), vaday (certainty). However, that is only the order if you read it from the outside, in which a person thinks that he will progress to knowledge and remain at that point. However, the reading from the inside is based on the higher light of humility. A piece of knowledge, when it becomes more revealed, turns into something that one only knows in a means of supposition based on probability of truth. Then one gets to the highest level and realizes that the most important things in life are known only on the level of doubt. A person then decides with a light of “I am a silly person and do not know; I was like an animal in relation to You” (Tehillim 73:22).        


The Award for Originality

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:11)


Gemara: The rabbis said to Reish Lakish: Youngsters came in now to the study hall and said things the likes of which were not even said in the times of Yehoshua bin Nun.


Ein Ayah: Displays of spirituality can come in different measures, both big and small. However, they can all be divided into the categories of original ideas and things that developed from a previous matter. It is possible that something that developed will have greater value than something that is original, but even in that case, the fact that it is original gives it a special importance.

Moshe’s face was like the face of the sun, from which light emanates, and Yehoshua’s face was like the face of the moon, which reflects the sun’s light (Bava Batra 75a). Therefore, all the great elements of sanctity at the time of Yehoshua were developments from a previous source. But the youths in the study hall, although they did not receive a full measure of wisdom from their teachers, had talent in originality. They were thereby able to arrive at ideas, which while not of great importance (word “games”) compared to that which Yehoshua taught, exceeded things in Yehoshua’s time in regard to originality.

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