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Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev 5781

Ein Ayah: The Prominence of the Secondary

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 14:9)

Gemara: An etrog, radish, and egg – if not for their outer peel, they would never leave the intestines.


Ein Ayah: There are things in the world that even though they seem secondary to something else and unimportant, they actually have a lot of impact on the main entity to the extent that without them, one would not receive any benefit from the main one. Therefore, we should not be surprised when seemingly external and ancillary matters grab a prominent place in the world. This is even though the main, internal things are the foundation of life in this world. Still had nature not worked on them with the help of the ancillary things, we would never gain from the main entity.

Regarding an etrog, radish, and egg, the inside is the main part, as that is where the nutrition comes for man. But they would not be worthwhile to eat if they would never leave the intestines. Therefore, their peels, which eventually allow them to be expelled from the intestines, brings the value that dwells in their midst.

This teaches a general rule for several things in the material world and the spiritual elements of the world – the contribution of minor things is major to lead the way for the main things, as we find for the etrog, radish, and egg.         


Preserving the Memory of the Lessons of Charity

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 14:10)


Gemara: Rav Dimi said: No one ever drowned in the Dead Sea.


Ein Ayah: Sodom was a place of destruction. Its existence in the world was to show that charity is the source of existence and that evil is the source of destruction in the world. The destruction of Sodom came because they were very far from charity, as it says, “The hand of the poor and the destitute they did not support” (Yechezkel 16:49). This comes to teach the world that people should cling to the attribute of being charitable.

The Dead Sea, which is near Sodom, was formed with the help of the destruction of Sodom. That destruction, which taught the world a lot in regard to the need for an approach of charity, was a reason for the world to continue on. This is hinted at by the statement that no one ever drowned in the Dead Sea.

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