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Condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:80-81

The Cause of Unfaithfulness


Various Rabbis

Cheshvan 6 5780
Gemara: Ulla said: Disgraceful is a bride who commits adultery from within her wedding canopy. [This is a metaphor for the sin of the Golden Calf, right after the giving of the Torah.] Rav Mari said: Where is this found in a pasuk? "While the king was still in his party, the spikenard left its smell [for others - Rashi]" (Shir Hashirim 1:12).

Ein Ayah: The tendency toward idol worship stems from the natural lowliness within a person, which is intermingled with the essence of evil and unsightliness within his physicality. As long as the entire world has not been purified from its spirit of impurity, a venom lying in hiding will remain. Even when the light of holiness and goodness increases, evil is not eradicated. Rather, it goes into a state of sleep, from which it can be awoken even during days that the light of truth and goodness is shining. This is a sense of disgrace for people, testimony to the lacking found in the nature of the human spirit. Indeed, the painful impurities were not totally removed from its foundation, as the readiness to do evil remains intact.

Where does the source of evil, which enables the inclination toward idol worship to sprout forth even after the nation reached great spiritual heights, come from? Should it not have been overcome, considering that it comes from man’s low point, and the nation already experienced such light and their hearts were touched with love and purity by Hashem at Sinai?

The foundation of evil was not found in the essence of the Israelite spirit, for this was already pure and went beyond the general lowliness from which the rest of humanity suffered. However, the advantage that they had was stored deep, in hidden elements of the soul. The great spiritual present that Israel received in recognizing Hashem, needed to be hidden in something that found expression in modesty and in personal contemplation. Then, when it would take hold internally, impacting on all life powers, it could emerge to the surface and be seen by all in the actions that the people would carry out.

However, the danger is that there is a strong desire to have the internal spirituality appear immediately in life by connecting the divine content to palpable actions and outward symbols. This desire to be able to publicize the spirituality at the wrong time can prevent the purity and awaken the spiritual filth connected to the venom of the desire for idolatry to raise up its ugly head. This is the secret of the sin of the Golden Calf. It stemmed from the haste of the desire of the masses to publicize its spirituality that stemmed from the light of the revelation at Sinai.

When the "king is still in his party," even hidden love suffices to fill the soul with excitement. There is no need to spread perfume to all the directions. When the approach was distorted to the point that there was a feeling that the perfume had to be given out, and to publicize that which was hidden within the spirit, then the troubles began. The public element of it united the deterioration that everybody suffered and prevented the recognition of the divine to orchestrate over the nation’s spiritual life and purify the whole world with its clear light.
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