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Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei 5781

Ein Ayah: Connection in Blood

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 14:4)

Gemara: [We continue with the story of Rav moving from Eretz Yisrael to Bavel (a critical event that changed the balance between the two communities). We are in the midst of Karna’s questioning of Rav, at Shmuel’s behest.] How do you know that blood (regarding nida) is red? It is as it says: “Moav saw opposite them that the water appeared red like blood” (Melachim II, 3:22).


Ein Ayah: Karna wanted to hint that Eretz Yisrael is beloved. Not only is it very holy so that the Torah can only cling to pure material in the Holy Land, but Karna also wanted to remind Rav of the natural love that the nation has for the Land. This finds expression in the spilling of the blood of the brave soldiers of Israel over the generations. They did this with great zealousness in battles when the enemy wanted to destroy, take the Land, and expel the Jews from it.

This red blood demonstrates the natural clinging to the Land due to eternal love for it, which causes the willingness to sacrifice one’s life. This connects one to the covenant regarding the Land, to the extent that nothing can break the holy bond.

It is cause for concern when the circumstances cause a weakening of the connection between the Land and the nation, so much so that the generation’s greatest scholar was forced to leave the Land. That is why Karna stressed the connection to the Land of our Heritage, both on the level of sanctity and of natural feeling toward it. Therefore he asked how we know that blood is red and creates the powerful and unbreakable connection between the nation and the Land. 


The Right Place for the Mila

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 14:5)


Gemara: How do we know that the mila is done on the sexual organ? It says here “orlato” (his foreskin – Vayikra 12:3), and it says later (regarding fruit in the tree’s first three years – ibid. 19:23) “orlato.” Just like there it is a thing that gives fruit, so too here it is an organ that gives fruit. Maybe it is his heart, as it says “I will cut off the orla of your heart” (Devarim 10:16)? Maybe it is his ear, as it says: “Alas, it is the orla of their ear” (Yirmiyahu 6:10)? We learn from where it says orla in a complete way, not an incomplete way (i.e., not “orla of X”).


Ein Ayah: It is an important, deep principle that the foundation of the spiritual sanctity must be connected to the material world. This is in line with the whole idea of the soul coming down to the world to do its work within a material body specifically. Along similar lines, the special spiritual attributes of Israel had to be connected specifically to the material side of Eretz Yisrael. 

[Karna wanted to point out] the holy value of the brit (covenant) which was engraved in our flesh. Hashem ensured that our special character would remain for generations by connecting it to our physical flesh. It cannot be accomplished by doing a mila on something spiritual like the heart, even though it is so wonderfully connected to a person’s morality. It also does not help to do a mila of the ear, representing preparing a person to hear and accept lofty matters. These things can be significant only after there is a mila in the very material flesh in a manner that impacts upon all generations. When the orla is removed from flesh by doing the eternal brit, then it is also possible to remove extraneous things from the heart and ear. The mila is in the place that “produces fruit.” That flesh is elevated by the “partial mila.” That is why we learn the place of the mila from the place of orla fruit.

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