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Shabbat Parashat Vayeira 5781

Ein Ayah: Needing a Contribution from Everyone

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 13:10)

Gemara: If one of the brothers dies, all of the brothers should worry. If one of the members of the chabura (social group) dies, the whole chabura should be worried. Some say that this is said when the most prominent in the group dies; some say it is when the least prominent in the group dies.


Ein Ayah: The influence that gives life to the whole universe goes and sets out its path in two manners that are revealed to us in the course of life:

One is in the natural connection within a group of people, most fundamentally found in a family. Just like there is an order of life and a continuity of vitality within a living thing, where the individual person and his persona has a special standing, so too on a broader level, there is a flow of life within the family connection. The members of the family have a special legacy that connects them into one defined group, whose value and purpose finds expression in the manner of their joint lives.

The second manner of connection is an artificial one. People join together on a practical level, as they form a group for the purpose of acting together in order promote a certain cause, which they set based on their own initiatives and inclinations. This type of connection is also profoundly impactful, as the members of the group receive the “influence of life” from a source of life in a general manner.

The thing that keeps the groups of different types together comes in two areas. One is connected to the foundations of the thought process and general desires. This can be found either in the family unit or in the artificially founded social groups. This is the highest-level element because it marks the character of the natural or artificial group. However, this desire has to find expression in practical life by means of all of the members of the group. The group goals can be most fully reached only when all its constituents and the power they provide contribute to the group as designed.

Therefore, when one of the brothers dies, it is fitting for all of the close family to feel the lacking that now exists in their natural group. They should see it as a hint from Heaven to fix their ways and their way of thinking. By returning to Hashem, they can remedy the vacuum that threatened their group by the death of one of their members.

A similar thing is true of a chabura. When a member dies, the others should look for a way to fix things and shore up the basis of unity, whereby all forces are joined together, as this was threatened when one died.

But this outlook can come about in two ways. If this applies when the most prominent member dies, then one is dealing with a case in which the basic foundation of the unification is compromised. This is because he represents the soul of the group, which holds the active powers that the unification is formed upon. This can happen both in the group constructed around family or that around like-minded friends.

Some say the concern is referring to a case in which the least prominent member dies. This indicates that the group can succeed only when all of the forces that make it up are intact, including every level, including the lowest one. Anyone who has a role can be the one who completes the effort. Thus there is cause for concern even when the least prominent dies, whether in the family or the social group. This is the idea of the concern when a prominent or not prominent member dies.   

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