Monday, November 20, 2006

yafeh sichasan shel avdei avos

If sicha is a “lower” level fo speech, e.g. sichas chulin, al tarbeh sicha im ha’isha (my wife pointed that one out), and dibbur is a”higher” level speech reserved for Torah, e.g. divrei Torah (see previous post), how do we make sense of the statement yafeh sichasan shel avdei avos yoseir m’torasan shel banim? One approach (which seems the most popular from my quick glance around in some seforim) is that the message is akin to gedolah shimusha yoseir m’limuda or yafeh sha’ah achas b’olam hazeh m’kol chayei olam haba– middos and derech eretz can only be taught through observing behavior, and derech eretz itself is a prerequisite for Torah, hence the sicha of Eliezer which is part of the whole behavioral lesson of the Avos takes on a significance that exceeds halaca itself. But in line with R’ Tzadok (jf you see both pieces inside the parallel is striking), the Sefas Emes offers a different explanation. Sefas Emes (like R’ Tzadok) draws a dichotomy between sicha—tefilla—eved on one hand and dibbur—torah—ben on the other. However, the dichotomy is not linear, i.e. unlike other meforshim understood, there are not mutually exclusive stages of eved/tefilla/sicha vs. dibbur/torah. Rather, every stagein life is both an opportunity for both sicha and dibbur, eved and ben, chayei olam of torah and chayei sha’ah of tefila, a chance to bask in the accomplishment of reaching new heights, but also a chance to strive to that next hihest rung that now stands just a small jump away. Yafeh sichasan shel avdei avos – the tefila that expresses the desire to grow to that next level, the feeling that one’s accomplishment is still just sicha and one must still work as an eved, is of greater import than the feeling of torasan shel banim, the feeling of attainment and accomplishment that are the divrei Torah of the stage reached.

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