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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

The Intersection of Intellect and Emotion

Various Rabbis25 ADAR 5769
645
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Gemara :
"Who is like the wise, and who knows the pesher (literally, the deeper understanding, but here, compromise) of the matter?" (Kohelet 8:1). Who is like Hashem Who knows how to make a compromise between two tzaddikim, Chizkiyah (the king) and Yeshaya (the prophet)? Chizkiya said: "Yeshaya should come to me, as we have found that Eliyahu went before Achav ..." Yeshaya said: "Chizkiya should come to me, for we have found that Yehoram the son of Achav came before Elisha..." What did Hashem do? He brought afflictions onto Chizkiya and said to Yeshaya to go visit the sick.


Ein Ayah: The power of prophecy that Hashem bestowed upon Israel during its era had the goal of fulfilling the eternal needs of the nation. It was meant to make eternal spiritual life attainable and to teach the ways of life to be used to obtain constant existence, so that its spirit would last forever and merit eternal national existence.
The power of the monarchy was to strengthen Israel’s national life in the present. Realize that there are ways of leading that add power to the nation in the short term but detract from its future prospects. Similarly, there are many things that weaken the nation in the short term but provide power and resolve in the future.
Following an extreme is always difficult and dangerous. If the nation is concerned only with future success and pays no attention to present needs, marauders will come to plunder and kill in a way that will endanger the people’s spiritual status and their hopes for eternal existence. On the other hand, the destruction can be immense if the heart of the nation is seduced to place its concerns only on short term life and strength. In so doing, they will trip and fall after a generation.
Hashem, Who guards Israel, regularly arranges factors that cause a balance between the power of the immediate and the future survival so that the nation does not trip in its path and will survive for many generations into the future. "As the new heavens and the new land stand before Me, so too will your offspring and your name stand" (Yeshaya 66:22).
Therefore, Yeshaya was concerned that if he gave precedence to the power of the monarchy [by going to Chizkiya], the nation’s spirit might fall and forget their efforts for eternity. Chizkiya was concerned that if the nation would see the power of the kingdom as weak in relation to that of prophecy, they would lose political strength. This could cause bad outcomes for their moral status, even in regard to Torah, fear of Hashem, and good middot, which the king’s power supported.
Hashem made a compromise between them. The eye of providence saw that according to the status of Israel at that time, they needed an exactly equal balance between the concerns. The public perception had to be that the kingdom had ultimate power and strength of the nationhood. Yet, those seeing the inner situation would see the king surrendering his temporary leadership for the welfare of prophetic eternity. This was Hashem’s compromise. Chizkiya was afflicted; Yeshaya went to visit the ill. Openly, the king was primary, for Yeshaya went to him. Internally, it was the king who suffered. This showed that sometimes, the immediate outlook of national strength has to cede when it rivals the eternal goals. From the external perspective of sensual desires, people need to be held in check by a powerful [righteous] kingdom. However, internally, regarding one’s intellect and desires for sanctity, he needs to be lead by a more gentle dominion, which shows the positive path, and out of love choose the path of good [represented by prophecy]. This is along the lines of the Rambam (Melachim 2:5) that although, externally, the king should have an advantage over a prophet, Yehoshafat privately would rise from his chair to honor talmidei chachamim.
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