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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa 5779

Ein Ayah: Keeping Out Thoughts that Went Astray

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:2)

Gemara: The pasuk (Yeshaya 30:22) says [in regard to the reaction to idol worship after being warned by the prophet]: “Distance them like a dava, say to it: ‘Leave.’” Do not say to it: “Come in.”


Ein Ayah: There are sometimes thoughts, feelings, and inclinations of the heart that emanate from holiness, from a person’s connection to the true G-d who created us all and is Master of our soul and our body, but they are taken to foreign places. When this happens, these thoughts spread all over the place, exploding in the light of every fleeting inclination, in a manner that is no longer connected to holy purposes. This spreading out to all places makes the original root of the inclinations foreign to their original nature and ultimately destructive. It turns light into darkness and the words of the living G-d into words of emptiness and of a negative spirit, of evil, and even of the roots of murder, with one person taking dominion over another to cause damage. 

When the possessors of such ruined ideas feel that they have trouble fitting into the Jewish community and separate themselves, one should not close the door on them. It may be enough for them to have the impurities removed from them. However, as long as they have left and are on the outside and oppose matters of sanctity that are part and parcel of the purity and sanctity of Israel, they should not yet be invited in. They have been deemed defiled by leaving the sanctums of Israel. Were they to come in, they would defile the encampment and desecrate that which is holy.

This is what happens in regard to idol worship, which is always rooted in people seeking sanctity but is greatly lowered when they encounter the evil inclinations of people who join together to spread matters of imagination and coarse materialism. They become so unrefined and dark that the once adorned part becomes an unseemly matter. That which appears fit to be sent away indeed should be sent away. Once it leaves, it becomes even more disqualified and loses its connection to the sacred.

On the other hand, the general power of sanctity has the ability to return he who has been cast away, as he retains a kernel of goodness deep within him. He will be able to return at the time of the ideal future, when the spirit of impurity will disperse like smoke. We say about this time: “I will remove the blood from his mouth and the disgusting matters from between his teeth, and he will remain for our G-d” (Zecharia 9:7). Chazal tell us that the theatres and circuses in the Diaspora will turn into venues for the noblemen of Israel to teach Torah publicly (Megilla 6a).

All of this light and elevation will come about due to the care at the time of unsettledness that no corrupt thought within Israel should make its way inside. This is as the gemara said that we tell him to leave and not to come in. The initial closeness to spirituality will make its mark in the ideal future, but this should not allow us to let him in prematurely. For the process of becoming foreign will make the person like a “distant brother,” and his estrangement is profound and is actually compounded by the original spiritual brotherhood. “Indeed Eisav is a brother to Yaakov; I loved Yaakov and I hated Eisav” (Malachi 1:2-3). Since he is like a foreign person, we tell him to leave, and we do not tell him to come in.
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