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Shabbat Parashat Tzav 5773

Ein Ayah: A Place that Is to be Without the Mundane or the Unseemly

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:268)

Gemara: It is forbidden to spit on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) by comparison to shoes: If regarding shoes, which is not a matter of disgrace, the Torah says: “Remove your shoes from your feet,” spitting which is considered a matter of disgrace, all the more so that is forbidden in a holy place.


Ein Ayah: One of the expected results of the sanctity of the Temple is that when one stands there, he is to be totally dedicated to the service of the Holy and the intellectual, and thus not prepared to be involved in the needs of the body. For this reason, he is required to remove his shoes before coming to the holy place, as wearing shoes is a sign of being ready to take care of mundane needs. The connection between shoes and a person’s needs finds expression in the fact that the morning blessing of “… that He did for me all my needs” is recited when one puts on his shoes.

If one needs to refrain from the needs of the body, even when they are not intrinsically matters of disgrace, certainly he has to refrain from that which is unseemly, whether it is categorized as such based on convention, based on nature, or morally, as the example of spitting represents.


The Place for Internal and External Beauty

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:269)


Gemara: One does not need [the previous derivation]. It says, “… for one may not come to the courtyard of the king in clothes of sackcloth” (Esther 4:2). If it is prohibited to appear before a human king in sackcloth, which is not disgraceful, certainly it is forbidden to spit, which is disgraceful, before the King of the kings. 


Ein Ayah:

There is intellectual beauty and beauty that is beheld by the senses. Intellectual beauty, such as kindness and straightness, good deeds and fine attributes, must be the dominant concern. However, even the less critical physical beauty is to be used, as we derive from “This is my Lord and I will adorn Him” (Shemot 15:2) that one is supposed to spend up to an extra third in price in order to fulfill a mitzva in a way that is pleasing to the eye (Bava Kama 9b). Indeed, the pasuk says: “Glory and beauty is before Him, strength and grandeur are in His sanctuary” (Tehillim 96:6).

In the negative direction as well, the main things from which a person should distance himself are internally, intellectually unseemly things. However, there is also a value in distancing oneself from externally unseemly things alongside the internally unseemly. Therefore, we can derive the prohibition of spitting in Har Habayit in a way that it relates to keeping away from internally unseemly things. However, the gemara continues, there is also a value from the external perspective. It teaches us that in general, external beauty has a place in our value system if we give it an appropriate place. “Charm is a lie and beauty is vanity” (Mishlei 31:30) is said only when one takes matters out of proportion and out of the context of true intellectuality and justice and concentrates only on the external side, as superficial people do. However, when done with the right balance, there is a great value to beauty, as the pasuk says: “And they will find charm and goodly wisdom in the eyes of Hashem and man” (Mishlei 3:4).


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