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Shabbat Parashat B'Haalotcha| 5770
Ein Ayah: The Dangers of Agitation and Change(condensed from Berachot 4:53)
Gemara: Do not get angry, and you will not sin; do not get drunk, and you will not sin; and when you go out on the path, confer with your Creator and then depart. What is that? Tefillat haderech (the traveler’s prayer).
Ein Ayah: A person has to protect the ethical level that he toiled to reach from being harmed by stormy emotions. Any such emotional agitation or even just a new situation could destabilize and destroy the moral gains he already attained. Besides the intrinsic sin involved, one should refrain from anger, even when it is halachically permitted, because anger can destabilize him and thereby cause him to sin. The destabilizing factor applies to intoxication as well, even if one does not reach the level of disgusting behavior.
One can go further and realize that whenever one enters a new situation, he needs protection as he encounters new images and emotions. We have seen many people who have deteriorated morally when they changed their places. That is why we are told that when we embark on a path, we should confer with our Maker. In this way, one can continue being accompanied by images of fear and love of Hashem together with a connection to goodness and pure characteristics even when he is on the move. This is the main point of tefillat haderech [not as most assume that we beseech Hashem only for physical protection], along with which comes effective protection, as Hashem watches over those who fear Him.
Focus on Hashem More Important Than External Aids
(condensed from Berachot 4:55)
Gemara: A blind person and one who cannot figure out the direction to Yerushalayim [to which he should be facing when praying] should focus his heart on his Father in the Heaven.
Ein Ayah: The ultimate intention one should have is toward his Father in the Heaven, especially to being close to Him and fulfilling His wishes. There are many, many important things that one has to do to prepare himself to reach such a relationship with Hashem, and the degree of his success depends upon the degree to which he is able to incorporate these preparations. The idea of facing Eretz Yisrael and the place of the Beit Hamikdash when he prays has to do with the following. The nationalistic emotions in the Israelite nation prepare the individual to serve Hashem properly and elevate the intellect so that an individual will be able to recognize the true value of mitzvot and do them with love.
However, sometimes one is not able to reach the full level of shleimut (completeness). He may be in the midst of a situation where he is not able to concentrate on the matters that help prepare him for the highest levels. He mustn’t say to himself that the nationalist elements (represented by Eretz Yisrael/ Beit Hamikdash) are the ends themselves, as the connection with Hashem is, while they are just facilitators. Therefore, he should do what he can and pray with his heart focused on Hashem. As long as he stays focused on the main thing, the additional elements will present themselves at a later day. In contrast, if he holds himself back from the main thing, namely, in this case, the prayers themselves, what will the preparatory things be able to do for him?
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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben