Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim | 5768

Excerpts from the Introduction to Ein Ayah part II

Ein Ayah

[Rav Kook began his introduction to Ein Ayah with a presentation of two types of Torah commentary. One explains the direct intention of the text at hand. The other, which he called a bi’ur (hinting at a well) applies ideas that are related to the text to other areas. This is possible because Divine Providence saw to it that the texts could be used to expand the Torah.] 


The element of bi’ur, of expanding Torah ideas to enlighten areas not necessarily intended by the author, is most prevalent in aggadic (philosophical and homiletic) rabbinic literature. The point of halachot is to instruct the practical steps one needs to take; it is the statements’ literal meanings that are pertinent in this regard. In contrast, aggadic passages are a holy seed of light that bears fruit of truth and peace, planted in the furrows of the heart and souls of those who dedicate themselves to Torah. These ideas were destined not only for their direct meaning but are Hashem’s Providence’s means of providing us with but also for spiritual sustenance and pure ideas that can be attained through logical extension. This is the depth of what Rabbi Yehoshua meant with the statement (Midrash Tehillim 28): “‘For they did not understand the actions of Hashem’ (Tehillim 28:5) – these are the aggadot.” This is also what the gemara (Shabbat 104a) meant when saying that the open letter mem refers to an open statement and the closed letter mem refers to a closed statement. The open statement refers to all the elements of influence that can be derived from a statement in the world of thought. It is open to the great world of intellect, full of light, and allows things to come into it. Yet there must also be a closed letter, protected from all sides and explained well based on its internal content.

This is why we are confident about receiving reward for expounding on the Torah. If we did not succeed in arriving at the intended meaning, as long as we are following the straight path of proper intellect, we are providing a bi’ur if not a literal peirush.

Moshe provided a bi’ur of the Torah (see Devarim 1:5) whereas Ezra gave a peirush (Nechemiah 8:8). Chazal tell us that Ezra, who could have given the Torah if Moshe had not, was the instrument through which the lettering was changed. That change was foreseen by prophets to correspond to his period (the second Beit Hamikdash) in which Bnei Yisrael were gathering strength in preparation for the long exile ahead. Bnei Yisrael’s activities in Torah were not visible to the nations during the first Beit Hamikdash but were internal. The difficult, cryptic Hebrew letters were appropriate, as the elite kohanim and levi’im guarded the integrity of the sacred texts. Yet it sufficed only when Israel lived alone, secure in its Land. The Torah was then fulfilled without the many fences and protections instituted by Anshei Knesset Hagedola, which were not necessary before exile. In the beginning of the second Beit Hamikdash period, when the great rabbis knew that their stay would not be permanent, they began securing the Torah. First they changed it to clearer letters (Ashurit). Then came the changes in the practice of Torah, with rabbinic injunctions and institutions that were lovingly accepted by the nation, as the pasuk says: “Both old and new, my beloved, I hid for you” (Shir Hashirim 7:14). Even though the enlargement of the Torah with rabbinic rules was done because of specific need, as is common for human innovation, man can be grateful in hindsight for the great treasures that came with these new elements of Torah. Once we got used to the wonderful ways of sanctity that the sages of the tradition added, the power of love invested in them provided them with an eternal, protected place in the nation. One can tell that they are wise ideas that are useful, sacred instructions that facilitate a moral life of closeness to Hashem.   


Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


Hemdat Yamim of this week
 is dedicated in memory of a beloved friend of Eretz Hemdah

Doris (Doba) Moinester
 whos Yahrtzeit is 23rd of Elul

as well as

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfel  


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.