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Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sara 5781

Ein Ayah: Spiritual Liberty

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 13:11)

Gemara: [It is forbidden to trap a bird in a house if] we are speaking about a “free bird” (tzippor dror), as it does not accept dominion, for it lives in a house the way it lives in the field.


Ein Ayah: Liberty is the greatest aspiration in life. It is for this reason that leaving slavery for freedom, [as our forefathers did in the Exodus from Egypt] is the most memorable event in the holy remembrances of the Jewish people. When we observe the holy days in the Jewish calendars, we note that it is “in remembrance of leaving the house of bondage in Egypt.” The Jubilee year, which marks the arrival of social life in Israel at its highest goal, is described by this word, dror, being “proclaimed in the land for all of its inhabitants” (Vayikra 25:10). 

Real liberty is liberty that fits the internal content, which is planted in the human spirit, which Hashem made straight. This inclination toward real liberty allows one to not give in to any pressure. Nothing can cause it to be broken because of the strength of the spirit when the natural purity is maintained.

The sign of this type of freedom is the free bird. Because of the natural element of that bird’s spirit, it does not accept dominion and does not allow itself to be subdued. Even though its natural place of freedom is the field, where it is usually found, the fact that it is called a tzippor dror means that it is “at home” in a house as well. This is because of the spirit that does not accept a foreign yoke that does not allow it to complete the state of its spirit. It is able to make its place between individual men and the nation in general, and allow them to proudly wave the flag of sanctity and the light of Torah. This is appropriate, as the Torah is referred to rabbinically as “charut-cheirut (a play on the words, engraved in stone and representing freedom) – see Shemot 32:16. The strength that comes from sanctity leads to true liberty and the sanctity of the Jubilee year, which talks of liberty (Vayikra 25:10), as is represented by the free bird.      


A Sad, Positive Revolution

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 14:2)


Gemara: Shmuel and Karna were sitting on the banks of the Malka River and saw that the water that they were drawing was murky. Shmuel said to Karna: “A great man (Rav) is coming from Eretz Yisrael, and he has digestive problems. Therefore, people are drawing water to greet him. Go check out how great a person he is.”


Ein Ayah: The arrival of Rav in Bavel created a whole revolution for the Babylonian Jewish community. The influence of the Torah studied in Bavel greatly increased, just as the times caused that the Jewish community of Eretz Yisrael waned in quality. It was Hashem’s Will that the malady of exile would increase.

The drawing of water is a symbol of uplifting. The uplifting of the spirit of Israel was appropriate due to Rav’s great impact there. The water was still murky, though, because clear light of the soul can only be found in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, even the great advance due to the coming of Rav could not undo the murkiness. The sadness over this murkiness, which demonstrates pain in the nation, impacted the great teacher in Israel, Rav’s, senses. His intestines churned from the great despair over the fact that the exile was deepening, bringing him digestive problems.

Shmuel wanted to better understand this great man’s spiritual nature. On the one hand, Rav was upset about coming and strengthening the exile, but on the other hand, he was doing it. He was fulfilling the awesome prophecy which included greatness and bitterness, uplifting and murkiness, torment and aspirations – all together. Only a great spirit could unite all of these contradictions. That is why Shmuel wanted Karna to investigate.

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