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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha 5781

Ein Ayah: The Crucial Importance of Appreciating Wisdom

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 13:8-9)

Gemara: Whoever is lazy about the eulogy of a scholar will not have long days (i.e., life), a measure for a measure … But doesn’t the pasuk say: “The nation served Hashem all the days of Yehoshua and all the days of the elders whose days were elongated after Yehoshua” (Shoftim 2:7) (even though the people of his generation were lazy in eulogizing Yehoshua)? They had long days but not long years. But doesn’t the pasuk say [as reward]: “…in order that you will have many days as will your children” (Devarim 11:21) – is that also only long days and not long years?! A blessing is different.


Ein Ayah: Respecting wisdom is the essence of seeking wisdom. The more a person is connected to extoling it, so does he seek it, and his life becomes full of positive emotion and activity, which is connected to the secret of long life. If a person is unmoved by wisdom, which finds expression in his not caring sufficiently when a scholar dies, and the person is lazy about his eulogy, then the foundations of his life are dry, and the wellspring that helps produce full lives is missing. Therefore the content of his life is short and his life aspirations lack a strong base. The laziness causes life’s root to be shortened as is appropriate based on the rule of a measure for a measure.

Yehoshua’s generation, whose members were lazy in eulogizing him, had signs of the disease of superficiality in their approach to wisdom and only saw Yehoshua’s obvious positive accomplishments, as opposed to his internal characteristics, which were greater. How then could this generation have long life, which is rooted in the flow of spiritual life, from the depths of the soul, especially the part that is enamored with wisdom?

The answer is that there is a difference between the conception of life as it takes form in a general manner and that which exists on the level of specific spiritual acquisitions. The general is broad and bright, and corresponds to long years. The specific comes splintered into different elements, which can only be called long days.

Even though the generation as a whole was too darkened in its appreciation of wisdom to merit long life, as it separated itself from that level of spirituality, the elders of the generation were only lowered somewhat and were able to recognize the greatness of Yehoshua on the specific level. They would say: “The face of Moshe was like that of the sun and Yehoshua’s was like that of the moon. Woe unto us for the embarrassment [of the deterioration of the leadership].” The truth is that there was an element of internal light that Yehoshua possessed that was also like the light of the sun, even if on a lower level, as opposed to the light of the moon, which is totally of a different type.

Because of the elders’ partial recognition of Yehoshua, they merited longer days, as they had at least recognized some of the internal greatness of Yehoshua, although they did not merit longer years. Those who were totally lazy in eulogizing lost even the specific spiritual appreciation, so that they did not get long days and certainly not long years.

In truth the length of days is an outgrowth of length of years, and so in regards to the blessing found in the Torah, when it refers to long days, it includes long years.       
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