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Shabbat Parashat Toldot | 5771

Ein Ayah: Mercy for the Wise Only

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:94)

Gemara: It is forbidden to have mercy on whoever does not have wisdom, as the pasuk says: “For they are not a nation of understanding, therefore their Maker will not have mercy on them” (Yeshaya 27:11).


Ein Ayah: Hashem put the tendency of mercy in the soul of man because it is a characteristic of shleimut (completeness), like charity, which saves people from being sentenced to gehinom (purgatory) (Gittin 7a). That is why Hashem, Who could have sustained us all without needing mercy from others, wanted to give people the opportunity to complete themselves by caring about the needs of others.

However, it is a problem to show mercy to those who do not have the wisdom to appreciate the value of mercy. Instead of understanding the above, the unwise recipient of mercy will come to believe that there is little point to be concerned about the letter of the law. The more people forgive him, the more his tendency to disregard responsibility grows. In contrast, one who has wisdom understands, even when he receives mercy, that it is better to receive what he needs according to justice. Such a person will exert himself, in the future, to survive without mercy. This is similar to Chazal’s statement (Chagiga 16a) on the pasuk: “Do not have belief in evil” (Micha 7:5). They say that if the evil inclination tells you to sin and Hashem will forgive you, do not believe him.

The point of the world is to allow people to attain reward that they have earned through hard work according to the Divine attribute of justice. One who is wise will consider when it is appropriate to receive Hashem’s mercy and will not become over-reliant on it.


The Wisdom to Understand the Complements to Wisdom

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:96)


Gemara: R. Elazar said: Whoever has wisdom is as if the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was built in his time, because the word for wisdom and the word mikdash are both found in Tanach between names of Hashem (Shumel I, 2:3 and Shemot 15:17, respectively).


Ein Ayah: The meaning of true wisdom is to know how to arrange all of one’s actions and emotions based on true wisdom and shleimut, which is Hashem’s will. It is a common mistake of those who possess wisdom that is lacking to judge all matters only based on intellect. They do not realize that intellect is but one of the powers of the human spirit. Along with it are many attributes, perceptions, and emotions, which, when working together, bring one to the path of goodness and completeness. In order to be completed to the fullest extent one needs to have a full and broad measure of Torah and belief.

The Beit Hamikdash is called the noy (beauty) of the world (see Zevachim 54b). Noy is shleimut in the area of aesthetic perception, and thus this statement teaches us how the world can be complete in terms of the power of imagination/senses (ko’ach hamedameh), which is the father of all actions. When the Beit Hamikdash was in the world, it brought great shleimut to the power of human perception, which helps improve one’s actions and attributes. Improved actions that come about in this way have double value in the following realms: 1) intrinsic value of the perception and imagined matter according to man’s ability to grasp it; 2) Hashem’s involvement in bringing it to the person, as He also created imagination to improve us.

Thus, he who has enough wisdom to bring his perception and imagination in line with his intellect and shleimut and to realize their value is like one who had the Beit Hamikdash in his time, for he is able to bring to himself and others some of its content. He recognizes that perceptions of the heart are not valueless, for Hashem did not grant them to him for naught. Therefore, the ways of the world that need to be connected to shleimut are also consecrated in the sanctity of truth.  


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