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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:20

Bend Over, Then Straighten Up

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Gemara: A hunched nun and a straight nun – someone trustworthy and hunched; someone trustworthy and erect.

Ein Ayah: Dedication to the world’s goal, for which Hashem created everything that exists, is noticeable in a person in two ways. One relates to the most basic moral approach, in which a person minimizes his value in his own eyes. He does not rely on his own perceived positive characteristics, for they are as nothing, and they did not come from him but from Hashem, the sole possessor of strength, wisdom, and dominion.

Next, after one internalizes his full humility, he gets to an approach of higher morality. It clarifies his own greatness, his soul’s purity, and the ability Hashem bequeathed him to grasp reality and recognize Hashem. Then he is elevated and "extended to full height" over the whole world. This recognition comes after humility has had its impact and allows him to fulfill his calling on a higher level.

The two situations together create a great foundation of holiness and create the light of the world that comes from its reliance on man’s greatness (see Yeshayahu 25:1). This is symbolized by the hunched, humble nun, followed by the long, straight, proud nun.
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