(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:10)
Gemara: The cow of Rabbi Eliezer would go out (on Shabbat) with a rope between her horns, against the will of the
Ein Ayah: A living organism with a backbone and heart at the center of its life-force energizes and gives life to all the
limbs and extremities of the body, up to and including the growth of hair and nails. Indeed, the entire body together
creates a full and complete life. When the extremities disconnect from the source of the life-force, they shrivel up and
die. This is not the case of very lowly organisms with no central life-force. Each part of the organism exists
independently of the rest.
We find a parallel in the world of spirituality and ethics. The living Torah is the loftiest part of life itself and is the
essence and core of the life-force for everything else. It unifies and pours vitality into all the details and minutiae of life,
in accordance with the strength of the centrality of the life-force. Just as a stronger blood flow increases the vitality and
life of the extremities of the body, so too a healthy spiritual core invigorates all aspects of life and its details.
However, we find two opposing concepts. The lofty center unifies and vitalizes the individual actions in as much as
they relate to the core. On the other hand, there is a need for guarding and giving the correct balance and weight to the
individual actions. For life is not found within the individual actions, but rather within the strength of the lofty core.
We need to beware of making the individual actions, in and of themselves, the center of life. On the other hand
there is an even bigger danger if we focus on the core of life and think that the individual actions are irrelevant and can
be done away with.
Therefore it may happen that a mistake can be made specifically from a great soul who might overlook a detail.
This can happen by his focusing on the core life and idea with a deep understanding that the details are only meant to
have significance within the whole that is deep within them. And it happens that specifically such a great person, who
resonates with the essence of life and its core, might be mistaken and improperly trivialize a certain action. Although this
is a mistake, as the completeness of life is dependent on the core bringing vitality to specific actions and details,
nevertheless it is a mistake that can be corrected. It will force him to strengthen and clarify the connection between the
life-force and the detail, redefining the correct proportions of importance and measurements.
On a certain level, we prefer to have such great souls who are totally enveloped with the core ideas of life even
though it is almost unavoidable that such great people might make mistakes at certain times. It is for this reason that the
Sages did not vehemently oppose Rabbi Eliezer but rather showed that it was “against their will."