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Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sarah | 5769

Help Not to Lose Ones Level

Ein Ayah

Gemara: Whoever regularly comes to the beit k’nesset and one day he does not come, Hashem asks about him, as the pasuk says: “Who among you fears Hashem and listens to the voice of His servant, who went in the darkness and there was no light for him... (Yeshaya 50:10)”  


Ein Ayah: A general insight regarding all of the paths toward human completeness, whether of the community or of the individual, that must be employed is that once people advance in the levels of ethical completeness, they must try to not fall back from their level and not lose their pleasant attainment. This is because regarding everything that reached its completeness in actuality, when it subsequently falls back, it becomes more lacking than it is for one who never acquired the matter in the first place. This is the foundation of the halacha that one who practiced good minhagim and wants to discontinue them, needs hatara (dissolution of the implied oath to continue the practice).


In relation to community life, a good minhag is especially severe because when an ethical attainment subsequently deteriorates, it causes an even greater lacking than had it been absent from him in the first place. Therefore one has to be more careful because “we go up in sanctity and do not go down.” Therefore, one who already stood at a certain high level of service of Hashem should not allow himself to ever go down from it.


If such a person does falter, the hand of Divine Providence is outstretched to alert him to the matter and arrange for rebuke. This is because: “He that Hashem loves, He rebukes” (Mishlei 3:12). The rebuke may continue until he returns to his normal strength. This is because there is a lot of Divine Providence in regard to the acquisition of human completeness, as man is the central figure of the creation, as we explained in the previous passage. Therefore, the gemara says, Hashem asks about one (mashil bo) who regularly comes to the beit k’nesset and one day he does not come. [The following passage can be understood best if Rav Kook was basing himself on the literal translation of this phrase, mashil bo, which is that He causes the question in him.] In other words, Hashem arranges reasons that cause the person to ask about himself because he should have had trust in Hashem’s Name. The fundamental element of the Name of Hashem is the assurance that Hashem’s leadership will help to attain true completeness, which is to resemble Hashem’s paths. This is because Hashem’s leadership is the secret of His great and lofty Name.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of George Weinstein


in loving memory of Tamar Lichtenstadt z”l. May her memory be a blessing.

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R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga      Brachfeld


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