January 6, 2022

Megillah 15

Today’s daf (Megillah 15a) includes the teaching of Rabbi Elazar in the name of Rabbi Chanina that the blessing of an ordinary person should never be treated lightly in our eyes.
In terms of the meaning of this statement, Rav Dessler explains (see Strive for Truth Vol. 2 p. 158) that we learn from here how we are each spiritually interconnected – whereby the merit of one person can benefit another: ‘The interdependence of people means that their relations to each other and the things they do and say to each other have an effect in the spiritual world.’ Moreover, he then adds that, ‘it is not just the people of a lesser status who depend on the greater, but the opposite as well.’
Personally, I think that much can be learnt from this last remark of Rav Dessler which offers us a key into understanding this cryptic teaching found in our daf. This is because, quite often, we either consciously or subconsciously spiritually ‘rate’ people. There are those who we consider spiritually ‘greater’, and those who we consider spiritually ‘lesser’, and while we may treat the words and blessings of the greater with reverence, we can often be dismissive and, to use our Gemara’s words, ‘treat lightly in our eyes’, the words and blessings of those we consider to be the ‘lesser’.
Given this fact our Gemara comes along and teaches us that those who we think are ‘greater’ are just as spiritually reliant on those who we think are ‘lesser’ and that, to quote Rabbi Sacks, while ‘not everyone is a master of Jewish law…spirituality is engraved in all our souls’ (Studies in Spirituality p. xvii). Therefore, precisely because we all have a connection to spirituality, and precisely because we are all spiritually connected, the blessings of seemingly ‘ordinary’ people should never be treated lightly in our eyes.
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