Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
Condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:25 - 26

Surprising Source of Happiness

The gemara continues to look at Aramaic words, looking at similarities to other words.


Various Rabbis

Tevet 24 5779
[The gemara continues to look at Aramaic words, looking at similarities to other words.]

Surprising Source of Happiness
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:25)

Gemara: Shotita (a myrtle branch, used in dancing before a bride and groom) is similar to shetuta (silliness).

Ein Ayah: Happiness in life, which is so good and critical for a person, cannot always come by taking a clear look at what is happening in the world. Sometimes what a person sees will make him disappointed and make him declare that everything is of fleeting value [as Shlomo bemoans in Kohelet]. Matters of eternal value, which are really what makes life worth living, such as wisdom and justice, and all the good that is hidden in the light of the Torah, do not always succeed in bringing happiness to a person’s spirit. That is because a person is naturally coarse and sees a lot of the dark sides of nature.

How does one, especially a righteous person, overcome the tendency toward being morose and tap into the divinely desired state of happiness, despite all the problems? For that Hashem created shetut – silliness, lack of deep thought, and excitement of seeing the "shine" of something that makes people happy.

Even though these stimulants are fleeting, at the time they are used, they bring happiness and allow happiness to take root in the makeup of one’s life. Then one can elevate his spirit and search for joy in matters that are permanent and eternal. This is especially true regarding the foundation of truth in the world, where happiness is connected to divine wisdom, in whose abode happiness dwells.

Shotita is a special myrtle that was set aside for bringing joy to a bride and groom, which is a type of joy that epitomizes the idea of happiness about life, despite the challenges that it brings. Shetut causes the inability to distinguish between matters in a way that allows happiness, and therefore it reaches a height that great human wisdom cannot.

Cleanliness of the Hands for All
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:26)

Gemara: Meshichla (a big cup) represents the idea of mashi kula (all wash).

Ein Ayah: Cleanliness is always connected to purity and sanctity, whose purpose is connected to the internal element of the soul, as the pasuk says: "Your encampment shall be holy" (Devarim 23:15). The purity of the body and of the hands, which are external matters, lead one to the recognition of the purity of ideas and the good character of the heart, which brings one to involve himself in proper deeds with holy trepidation.

It is not only the uniquely pious among the nation who need to be clean. The entire community of Hashem elevate themselves to the level of one with a pure spirit. Each person should be involved in external activities that lead him to the proper internal characteristic.

Ritual washing of the hands is a matter of general importance. Whoever does not take the mitzva seriously deserves to be removed from the world (Sota 4b), whether he is rich or poor, whether he lives a life of luxury or a simple life. External purity has impact within the depth of the soul, and every internal matter of life is a legacy to all of humanity, just like air and sunlight belong to everyone. Indeed a large cup is something that reminds us of the washing of the masses.
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