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Shabbat Parashat Tzav | 5769

Ein Ayah: The Time for Nature and the Time for Miracles

Ein Ayah

(based on Ein Ayah, Berachot 1:143)                      


Gemara: What did [Chizkiya] mean by saying, “I did that which was good in Your eyes”? … Rabbi Levi said: he buried the book of remedies.

Ein Ayah: Trust in Hashem is mankind’s shleimut (completeness), but it comes in different forms. Simple trust comes from a miracle, which comes when needed or when a great person deserves it. However, constant trust is to trust Hashem to help when one makes his own efforts. Regarding the nation, there are contradictions. Sometimes one’s efforts are praiseworthy and necessary; sometimes they are negative. The battle of Ay was based on strategy Hashem dictated, whereas Gidon used few soldiers so no one should claim they brought the victory.

The matter depends on the nation’s moral level. The goal of Hashem’s world leadership is to bring His light fully, with its short-term and eternal good. When a person or the nation is on a high level, natural leadership along with organized human life will be recognized as Hashem’s Hand. As the Ran writes, one must not relate his success to himself but should recognize that Hashem gave him the tools to succeed and reach shleimut. When man realizes this, he will recognize his Maker more when he succeeds naturally, requiring him to make efforts of wisdom and physical and spiritual strength. This is preferable to Hashem doing a one-time miracle. If one thinks how many pieces of Divine help he needs to succeed, his appreciation of Hashem will grow.

When the nation falls from its heights and becomes mired in physicality’s vanities, not noticing what Hashem does, people’s increasing their natural efforts will not increase recognition of Hashem. That’s why at the beginning of the Israelite nation’s knowledge of Hashem, miracles were needed, as the pasuk says, “for Israel was a youngster, and I loved him” (Hoshea 11:1). Love shown for a youngster may be different than love for an adult. A youngster likes when his father gives him things directly; an adult prefers when his father sets him up so that he can enjoy success with his skills. So too, miracles are good for a young nation, bringing knowledge of and closeness to Hashem in a way that a natural life would not. A more mature nation is better served by a life of diligence, improving itself in all elements and finding Hashem in nature. “Lift up your eyes and see Who created these” (Yeshaya 40:26).

At the time of the battle of Ay, Bnei Yisrael were ready to benefit from their own efforts. This is as Rav Saadya Gaon says that if we were to reach shleimut without efforts, Hashem would run the world in that way. In Gidon’s time, the nation was at a much lower state, and success through efforts would have lacked moral impact, and so he limited natural efforts.

Chizkiya followed Achaz’s evil reign. Due to a moral fall, efforts even regarding national matters, which are almost always good, needed to be replaced by total trust in Hashem. Therefore, Chizkiya said he had no power to combat Sancherev’s army in any way. Hashem should save Israel alone and thereby lift the nation’s spiritual state. The ultimate, future liberation can begin with miracles or natural successes. The latter is more appropriate if we keep mitzvot properly, by bringing national glory. If we will be on a low level, natural success would lower our spirituality.
Chizkiya buried the book of remedies. True, the Rambam said that medical efforts are not a lack of trust in Hashem. But the king saw that the nation would gain more by turning to Hashem in prayer with their great needs more than by searching for medical remedies. This was the good in Hashem’s eyes. Similarly, Chizkiya was healed through a miracle as a sign for all of Israel. We, though, can enjoy natural liberation, which can be augmented by miracles to bring knowledge of Hashem to other nations or to elevate us even higher.

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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

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


Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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