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Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sara 5779

Ein Ayah: Can Removing Be Positive?

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 7:6-8)

Gemara: [We begin with the piece of gemara discussed last time and continue with the new section, which ensues, regarding untying.]

Where was tying done in the Mishkan [which would make it a melacha on Shabbat]? Rava said: They would tie things to the stakes that held the tent in place. Abaye said: That is tying while having in mind to untie it [as the Mishkan was periodically moved]?! Rather, said Abaye: It was when the weavers of the fabric sheets, upon a thread being broken, would tie it up. That explains [the origins of] tying; what can you say about untying. If you suggest that it was when two threads were accidentally tied together so that it was necessary to undo one of them, [this does not make sense]. After all, even when preparing something for a human king, one does not act in such [an unprofessional manner, to have to redo things], all the more so when it is done for the King, who is the King of kings.

 

Ein Ayah: [Last time we saw how the threads discussed could be seen as a metaphor for thoughts and philosophical ideas.]

Regarding thoughts from different elements that should be united, any separation or lack of connection is a disease and ruins the completeness of the thought process. Therefore, the metaphor of tying together thoughts is appropriate, but the metaphor of untying them does not seem appropriate as a high-level positive action, considering the need for internal factors in the development of the performance of the work in order for something to qualify as a melacha. The high level of thought applies only in increasing connection between things.

There are indeed times when ideas, which should fit well together, become complicated and form contradictions one with the other. Then, they are not capable of being interconnected anymore. In such cases, one idea has to be removed from the group of compatible thoughts, so that a more compatible one be chosen to take its place. Then, a spiritual group of ideas can ostensibly be achieved. This is the idea of the need to untie a thread so that another one can be connected.

However, the removal of one idea from the others cannot be considered a positive action of man in his effort to complete his spirit. After all, every time a good idea is removed, there is an element of destruction to the mass of ideas. The entire unit is affected by the change in the order of matters. Changes in order can be destructive even in connections of society and government (i.e., the matters of human kings). It is all the more evident that such disruptions are problematic when it comes to deep and lofty spiritual matters (i.e., matters that relate to the King of kings).

 

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