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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo | 5769

Ein Ayah: Fear of Sin in a Life of Activity

(based on Ein Ayah, Berachot 2:33)


Gemara: [The prayer that this gemara focuses on is known to us as Birkat Hachodesh (as we declare the new month)]. It should be Your will … that we have … life that has in it the fear of sin …


Ein Ayah: The idea is that the fear of sin should be in the midst of the life. There are people who have fear of sin, but it is not strong within them. These people can maintain their fear of sin when they are able to distance themselves from the activity of life. However, when they come into the social elements of life and get involved in commerce in a major way or in different areas of science, the fear of sin will leave them because it is not meshed into their life. That is why the author of this prayer asked for life that has in it - in the midst of the life itself - fear of sin. This follows the concept of what Chazal say on the pasuk, “I will walk before Hashem in the lands of the living” (Tehillim 116:9). Chazal posit that the pasuk refers to the marketplaces (Yoma 71a).


The Root of Love and Fear of Hashem, Respectively

(based on Ein Ayah, Berachot 2:36)


Gemara: [We continue with the same prayer.] It should be Your will … that we have … a life that there should be in us the love of Torah and yirat shamayim (literally, fear of Heaven) … life within which the requests of our heart will be fulfilled for good.


Ein Ayah: Love of Hashem and fear of Him each come from a different recognition. In the higher ways of Hashem, there are ways in which man can, to a certain degree, emulate Hashem. This, Chazal capture with the charge, “Just as He is merciful, so should you be merciful …” (Shabbat 133b). When a person goes about emulating Hashem, this causes him to love Hashem more and more.

Fear of Hashem comes when one contemplates His greatness and the ways in which He is beyond our comprehension and our ability to approach His ways, as they are so perfect that they are out of our grasp.

Because of this dichotomy we say that the love of Hashem is analogous to the love of Torah. That is because the foundation of Torah is to make a person one who follows in [those of] Hashem’s paths [that man is capable of following]. This is what the Torah describes about Avraham, who educated his family to “guard the path of Hashem to do charity and justice” (Bereishit 18:19).

Fear of Hashem is called fear of Heaven, in other words, the awe from His loftiness, to the extent that he is more powerful than our intellectual grasp and our capabilities. As the pasuk says, “Go high to the Heavens, what can you do?” (Iyov 11:8). 

Regarding “life within which the requests of our heart will be fulfilled for good” – since the heart desires imaginary pleasures, it is not possible to fulfill all of its requests. After all, if one has 100 zuz, he will desire 200 zuz. Therefore, we ask that our requests be fulfilled to the extent that they are for the good.


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