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Shabbat Parashat Tzav| 5771

Ein Ayah: Why to Learn Torah

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:37)

Gemara: We read the pasuk with the double language of “shamoah tishma” (Shemot 15:26) as follows: If you listen to the old, you will listen to the new, and if your heart turns away, you will subsequently not listen.


Ein Ayah: It is possible to have a love of Torah knowledge in two ways. One is based on valuing the Torah and the shleimut (completeness) it brings. The second is that some people naturally love knowledge, in general.

There is a special condition regarding Torah that one must have a special love for it based on its holy value. That is why we expect one to love even the ideas he already heard and treat them as if they were new. Only if he accomplishes that will Hashem bless him with the gift of fully understanding new information as one who learns Torah with noble intentions. This is the gemara’s intention: by hearing the old, out of love of Torah, he will hear the new.

In contrast if one turns away from Torah that is not new, he lacks true love and has only coarse love of knowledge in general, and he will not understand. This is because the Torah will not shine its countenance on him, and he will not be able to properly accept it. Ultimately, he will not even enjoy learning Torah intellectually, for “Hashem wants those who fear Him” (Tehillim 147:11).


The Level of Specificity of Berachot

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:38)


Gemara: On vegetables, one recites: “Borei pri ha’adama” (He who creates the fruit of the land).  Rabbi Yehuda says: “Borei minei desha’im” (He who creates the species of grasses). Rabbi Zeira or perhaps Rabbi Chanina bar Pappa said: What is the pasuk that supports [Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion]? “Blessed is Hashem day by day” (Tehillim 68:20). Do we bless Him only in the day and not at night? Rather, it comes to say that every day we should “give” to Him according to its blessings. So too, here, for every different species we should give Him praise according to its specific blessing.


Ein Ayah: There is a difference between general knowledge of Hashem’s kind ways and specific knowledge of it. The Zohar (Vayikra, Behar 111) compares the former to a servant of Hashem and the latter to a son of Hashem. A wise man can look discerningly at the different elements of wisdom and learn about the Creator by looking at the creations.

When one looks at the world at night, he can observe things in a general manner, as the pasuk (Tehillim 8:4) says: “When I see Your sky, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You arranged.” During the daytime, one can notice every detail of the creation and see the wisdom contained therein. For this reason, the gemara brought a pasuk that stresses that Hashem is blessed in relation to the day, as greater detail that is discerned results in the blessing of Hashem making a more significant impression. That is what the gemara meant when asking whether only in the daytime one blesses, as even in the night there is what to bless about. It is just that in the day one has the advantage of being able to make more specific berachot and indeed we can thank Hashem for His greatness as finds expression every day in its own way.

The difference between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbanan is that Rabbi Yehuda understood that the idea of being as specific as possible about the creations is an obligation, for which reason the language of the berachot specifically distinguishes between different types of vegetation. Rabbanan may have reasoned that this type of detail is beyond the level of the average person. Rather, one can suffice by realizing Hashem’s role as the Creator of all, Who did, does and will do everything, and by serving Him faithfully.


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