Shabbat Parashat R'ei | 5768
Hashem’s Preferences in Performing Miracles
(from the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, z.t.l.)
1. Hashem’s Preferences in Performing Miracles (based on Berachot 1:38)
Gemara: [The gemara tells how Rav Huna was punished for a mildly improper business dealing, when 400 barrels of his wine turned into vinegar. After he repented and rectified the situation, he was rewarded.] “There are those who say that the vinegar returned to being wine. There are those who say that the price of vinegar rose to be the same as the price of wine.”
Ein Ayah: It is simple that Hashem does not perform miracles without a need because Hashem wants nature to continue to operate. Therefore when there is a need for a miracle on behalf of one who fears Hashem, it is best if the miracle can be kept as small as possible. [The two opinions in the gemara] differ how it is best to limit the miracle. Is it better to reduce the miracle qualitatively even though that will cause a need to increase it quantitatively, or is it preferable to reduce it quantitatively in a manner that it will have to be increased qualitatively?
Certainly [of the two possibilities raised in the gemara] returning the vinegar to wine is a qualitatively greater miracle, as it is not at all within the framework of nature. However, it is small in quantitative scope as it does not extend beyond the righteous man’s 400 barrels of vinegar in question. In contrast, the rise in the price of vinegar to that of wine is a qualitatively small miracle, as it follows the path of nature. However, it is a big miracle quantitatively as it had to spread to many matters until the price of vinegar becomes as that of wine. The second opinion believed that it is better to limit the miracle qualitatively even though it makes the miracle greater as far as quantity is concerned.
2. What Happens Spiritually During Sleep? (based on Berachot 1:39)
Gemara: It is stated in a baraita: Abba Binyamin said: I went to great trouble throughout my life to … [The first is that] I would pray soon before going to sleep.
Ein Ayah: [The significance of the matter is based on the following.] When a person sleeps he is steeped in physicality because the intellectual side of his desires leaves him, and only the ko’ach hemedameh (roughly, the imagination) functions. Therefore, a spirit of impurity dwells on his body to the extent that he has to remove it by washing his hands. Even though it is possible for those on a level of sheleimut (completeness) to maintain their intellectual side and reach very great attainments during sleep, as is known to have happened to many holy people who merited this, that is only from the side of the soul. However, the soul does not impact on the body during the time of sleep.
Now the difference between the way the Torah works and the way tefilla works on a person is as follows. The Torah elevates a person’s intellect and the body becomes purified by itself as a result. However, the main element of tefilla is to elevate the ko’ach hamedameh, which is the power of the body, and it is set up so that it can elevate the desire of the body for holy and lofty matters. Therefore, it is fitting that one should desire that one’s tefilla will be as chronologically close as possible to going to sleep. This is because it allows the tefilla to fix that which is missing in the body from the perspective of the nature of sleep. Since the main part of tefilla is to fix the holiness of the body, it is therefore called “temporary life” [as one’s body is of fleeting existence.]
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Hemdat Yamim of this week
is dedicated in memory of
Yitzchak Eizik Ben Yehuda Leib a"h,
whose Yahrtzeit is the 29th of Av
as well as
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.