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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo | 5768

Excerpts from the Introduction to Ein Ayah part I

Ein Ayah

from the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, z.t.l


Excerpts from the Introduction to Ein Ayah – part I


[After jumping in and getting a taste of Ein Ayah over the last few months, we decided to return to where we arguably should have started, Rav Kook’s introduction to the work. In it, he presents his logic for explaining Chazal’s aggadic writings in a manner that goes beyond the simple meaning of their words.] 


The two words for those who elucidate the depths of Tanach and the works of the Rabbis, mefarshim and meva’arim, hint at different elements of commentary, as we will explain. The words of the Rabbis, and all the more so, the words of Tanach, must be concise so that a little contains a lot. This requires others to come along and explain their intentions. One would expect that the job of the commentator is one of questionable success: did the commentator decipher the meaning of the original source correctly? It is depressing to consider that whoever missed the real intention was wasting his time. Yet we are told: “Expound and receive reward,” which implies that the reward is unconditional. There must, then, be something positive in the process of expounding per se, a matter that, we will see, is connected to the foundation of the belief in Hashem’s incredible providence over us and the dominion of true unity.

In the physical world, creatures all find the things that are beneficial to them, whether they were created that way or were produced for use. Just as Hashem’s providence ensures that necessary physical things can be obtained, so too Hashem provides in different ways intellectual matters that man needs for his development. The blessing that we make on fire on Motzaei Shabbat, as we try to extend Shabbat’s sanctity to the days of activity, teaches us that everything new in the world, even that which man develops through great G-d given ingenuity, is considered to be created by Hashem. Everything was Divinely prepared so that it would be discovered or invented at just the right time. Of all of the events that coincided to enable these developments, the most important ones are those that influenced the discoverer’s intellect.

Within the intellectual world, we all know that Hashem wanted the Torah to be expounded upon and widened, which increases the spirit of sanctity and purity within Israel. Every discovery in the realm of Torah adds fuel to the spirituality of the nation as a whole. Torah is expanded by taking that which is known and clarifying and expanding its message. The world of ideas is like a great ocean whose water awaits being drawn. There are two ways to do this. One is the peirush, which explains correctly and fundamentally the original Torah statement. It is an expansion because the statement’s content is like a wrinkled fabric; ironing it uncovers areas and the visible size increases.

However, there is another element to commentary on a Torah text or statement. The ideas of the statement itself are able to impact on other ideas that are related to the original statement by the rules of logical extension. This ability to impact on other areas and the details of the expansion are included in the original statement. This is not so innately but is an outcome of the Divine greatness, which arranged the intellectual world with all its needs and prepared ideas for eternal expansion. This is why we refer to a Torah scholar as an increasing wellspring and an unending river. This is the upper level of elucidating a Torah text, which we call bi’ur, which is related to the word b’er (a well). In this manner, new living water flows out of every uttering and idea of truthful knowledge that we inherited from previous generations of scholars and holy ancestors. The bi’ur is not taken only from the content of the specific statement, but from the Divine involvement within it, which paved the path in many ways for us to reach true success and happiness, to light our souls with full spiritual sustenance.      


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