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Shabbat Parashat Teruma | 5769

The Attraction to a Country, Bigger Miracles Are Not Better

Ein Ayah

The Attraction to a Country

(based on Berachot 1:116)


Gemara: “They emptied out Egypt” (Shemot 12:36). Rav Ami said: this teaches that they made it like a trap without grain. Reish Lakish said: they made it like a net without fish.

Ein Ayah: From the Torah’s warning not to return to Egypt, we see that there was a need for vigilance that the nation would not be drawn there over time. There they might return to the lowly spirit and the slavery, accompanied by the Egypt’s abominations. Therefore, He Who shapes history prepared an idea well in advance to undo Egypt’s pull on Israel.

One draw to a country is if it has bountiful food and is a good place to acquire wealth. Every great nation desires such things, and nations can be drawn even to lands that are distant, geographically and spiritually. Beyond this, a nation that is accustomed to a certain land from which it was distanced may be drawn by love of the land’s society. This can be prevented only when the society’s order is broken; no one wants to live in a desolate land.

Rav Ami spoke of a trap without grain, for when its wealth [represented by food] is lost, people are no longer drawn there to make riches. This broke the Israelites attraction toward Egypt. Reish Lakish felt that this was insufficient because of Israel’s leaning toward and familiarity with Egypt. Therefore, Hashem arranged well into the future that Egypt would be so lowered by its affliction that it was unable to lead a normal society, making it like a net without fish. When a net has fish, other fish stream there for the love of companionship regardless of practical advantage.


Bigger Miracles Are Not Better

(based on Berachot 1:118)


Gemara: Why did Eliyahu say “answer me” twice? Once that the fire should descend from the heaven and once that Hashem should occupy their minds so that they won’t attribute it to sorcery.    

Ein Ayah: The goal of true belief is to attain shleimut (completeness) in actions and attributes. Intellect’s insight is very great, as the Chovot Halevavot says. It can be achieved without miracles, by means of pure recognition of the fear of G-d and the desire of good attributes; this is the goal of the heights of the spirits. Therefore Divine Providence always saw to it that miracles should occur in a manner that prepares the spirit to go on the straight path based on intellectual insight.

Therefore, it is better, if possible, that a miracle not be a major wonder but something that resembles nature. Thereby, one who wants to deny the miracle can say it was sleight of hand or sorcery, so that cognitive recognition will take part in deciding on the good path of Hashem, ways of full pleasantness and paths of peace. Only when necessary were obvious miracles performed.

Eliyahu used the miracle of the fire although one could claim it was witchcraft so that Israel would use intellectual insight to leave idol worship’s darkness and return to the service of Hashem from an internal recognition that is everlasting, true shleimut. It would have been different if they had repented due to an undeniable miracle. In that case, the heart would have no part in the purity, as the intellect would have to accept it, and the impact would not last. Therefore, Eliyahu asked Hashem to help prepare their hearts to love Him and grasp His truth. The miracle of fire from the heaven separated them from the bad habit of idol worship; if they chose good internal recognition, they would not consider bad thoughts to claim sorcery. Indeed whatever accompanies goodness and internal justice and straightness is accepted by the heart of one who is wise and seeks Hashem.

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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
of Gershon (George) ben Chayim HaCohen Kaplan

as well as

 R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld


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.

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