Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:88

Constriction and Freedom


Various Rabbis

Cheshvan 27 5780
Gemara: We interpret the pasuk, "A bundle of mor (a spice) my beloved is for me; between my breasts he lies" (Shir Hashirim 1:13), as follows: Israel said before Hashem: "Master of the Universe, even though my beloved was harsh (lit., put me into a constricted place), he still dwelled between my breasts" (Rashi – a reference to the two posts which were attached to the ark, which protruded through the curtain of the Holy of Holies).

Ein Ayah: There are two situations that bring a pleasant feeling to the human spirit when they are present, and when they are missing (and certainly if the opposite situation is present), it can cause him great distress.

One situation is that of the ability to spread out. This can exist in regard to the breadth of his heart, and to spread out his essence, to increase his desires, and seek to go as high as high can be. He wants to be unrestricted in what he can seek and what he can imagine. When he has the freedom to have space of all sorts, he feels that he is prominent and is internally happy. When, in contrast, he is lead into a situation of restrictions, which constrict him, he feels incarcerated, abused, and lowered. He lacks the breadth of his heart and his light is dimmed, causing him to feel depressed.

The second situation is suitability and harmony. When a person’s desires, feelings, and surroundings all fit his internal life values, he feels pleasantness and internal smoothness. It is like a pleasing taste or a melodious sound. It is representative of a characteristic of compatibility between that which is felt and the one who is feeling it. In contrast, when elements of a person’s being are complicated and contradictory, it causes pain and bitterness, which can be shocking to a person. It can feel like elements of hell, which cause pain to the spirit and body.

The flame of sanctity of the love of Hashem, which is like intellectual perfume, is the most penetrating emotion of the soul. It is generally present in members of the Jewish people, and this is true in an all-encompassing manner in special people. This love of Hashem sweetens all the sources of bitterness. The light of freedom turns all of the constricted areas to breadth and freedom, which bring great love and fulfillment to those who merit it. The connection to Hashem through love based on achievement, which is built upon the basic connection to Hashem of all in the nation, is connected to the power to cause growth which has existed throughout the generations.

Breasts are the guarantee of sustenance. Raising up new generations and providing them with the vitality of life is represented by the mother who gives birth and raises the child, which she can do with the help of the father who fertilizes.

The internal sweetness of the love found in the Jewish people surpasses all boundaries. The power of the spirit can enter the constricted places and in response to the pressure, stand strong to the challenge. That is what the gemara means by saying that even though my beloved was harsh and constricting, still he lied between my breasts. The love of the powerful overcomes all, and the tight places actually increase the eternal freedom. The bitter enhances the power of taste and enables the impact of the sweet.
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