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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

Don’t Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water

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(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 1:32-33)

Gemara: There is another statement of Rava bar Mechasya in the name of Rav Chama bar Guria in the name of Rav: If all the seas were filled with ink, and the marshes were full with quills, and the heavens were parchment, and all people were scribes, they would not succeed to write all the thought process that the government has to go through. What pasuk indicates this? "The heavens in regard to height and the earth in regard to depth, and the heart of kings is beyond investigation" (Mishlei 25:3).

Ein Ayah: The affairs of human society are a long chain, containing countless interrelated details. Therefore, it is unwise to hastily try to destroy the existing political apparatus even if one sees many examples of injustice. In general, one who destroys a structure in order to fix it has to consider all of its aspects. Regarding a society, the complexity does not allow one to capture everything, and therefore a person should not rely on his wisdom. He should realize that destroying may do more harm, in ways that are hidden from him, than he helps.
Therefore, one should act in a peaceful manner, according to the path of the Torah, and rely on Hashem to lead man on the historical path that He sees fit for society (see Shmuel I, 2:3). One should be loyal to He who gives kingdom to kings and look forward to an expansion of justice as it unfolds in the manner that occurs naturally in society. He should not give special regard to those who rebel against whatever system is in place with a brazenness that ignores how much worse things could be, in ways he would never be able to consider in advance.
These destroyers may think that they are able to map out everything pertinent and remove only that which is bad. However, they should know that the details are too great to possibly be able to figure out. That is what we learn from the gemara’s parable that no amount of writing materials would be able to spell out everything. One should apply the p’sukim, "My son, fear Hashem and the king; do not intermingle with different people" (Mishlei 24:21) and "The simplicity of straightforward people will lead them on the correct path" (ibid. 11:3).
The affairs of society are built on concepts that are connected both to spiritual matters, pertaining to justice, ethics, and the involvement of sanctity in the world, as well as to the physical, political world. The two are actually interconnected as the Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 1:15) says on the pasuk, "Alas, angels of Hashem were climbing and descending on [the ladder]" whose top reached the heavens and whose base was placed on the ground (Bereishit 28:12). The Divine Wisdom, which rises up to the top of the ladder, is connected to the social wisdom, which descends to the earth. If each one of the elements is so multi-faceted that it cannot be fully encompassed by man’s intellect, certainly that is true of the two when they are intertwined. That is what the pasuk means by being beyond investigation. Therefore, in relating to the apparatus that runs complex societies, one should be careful and unpresumptuous. He should be careful not to join up with rebellious servants who try to cast off the old systems that are in place.
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