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Shabbat Parashat Matot Masei 5780

Ein Ayah: Bend Over, Then Straighten Up

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:20)

[We continue with lessons to be learned from pairs of letters from the aleph bet.]

Gemara: A hunched nun and a straight nun – someone trustworthy and hunched; someone trustworthy and erect.


Ein Ayah: Dedication to the world’s goal, for which Hashem created everything that exists, is noticeable in a person in two ways. One relates to the most basic moral approach, in which a person minimizes his value in his own eyes. He does not rely on his own perceived positive characteristics, for they are as nothing, and they did not come from him but from Hashem, the sole possessor of strength, wisdom, and dominion.

Next, after one internalizes his full humility, he gets to an approach of higher morality. It clarifies his own greatness, his soul’s purity, and the ability Hashem bequeathed him to grasp reality and recognize Hashem. Then he is elevated and “extended to full height” over the whole world. This recognition comes after humility has had its impact and allows him to fulfill his calling on a higher level.

The two situations together create a great foundation of holiness and create the light of the world that comes from its reliance on man’s greatness (see Yeshayahu 25:1). This is symbolized by the hunched, humble nun, followed by the long, straight, proud nun.


Methods to Remember and Internalize Torah

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:22)


Gemara: Samech and ayin teach to make simanim (pneumonics) for Torah and acquire it.


Ein Ayah: You should always engrave on your heart the great value of acquiring Torah as part of your heart and mind. Use whatever tricks you can to permanently acquire the Torah within you. Then, the Torah will leave an impression on the essence of your life.

It is good but insufficient to spend a lot of time reviewing that which you learned. You should spend energy arriving at tricks to remember the Torah learned, out of a palpable fear that normal efforts will not prevent you from forgetting. When you have these great efforts and great fear of forgetting, because you are aware of Torah’s great sanctity, you will acquire Torah and make it yours forever and part of your essence, thus making you strong and lofty.


Speech and Silence

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:23)


Gemara: The hunched peh and straight peh represent the open mouth (peh) and closed mouth.


Ein Ayah: Speech and silence serve as co-foundations of the world. When the mouth is open to speak about that for which speech was created (e.g., spreading Torah and wisdom) and bring special light to the world’s dark places, one builds a supporting pillar for the world.

In contrast, regarding holy silence, whether to withhold damaging speech or even to not spread too much light when inappropriate, such as when it is too deep and pure for the listener to contain, silence makes existence grand. So the open mouth and the close mouth both build Hashem’s palace above and below, so that there is eternal sanctity throughout the world. Openness is appropriate by lowlier (hunched) things, and silence is more likely proper for matters of the highest levels. In that way, “To You silence is praise” (Tehillim 65:2).

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