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Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel 5779

Ein Ayah: The Corruptive Element of a Fly in a Pocket

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:3)

Gemara: [We know that there are idols that are treated as such even though they are smaller than the size of an olive, as we have learned in a baraita: The pasuk (Shoftim 8:33) that says, “They made for themselves a ba’al brit as a god” is referring to a zevuv (image of a fly) which was the ba’al idol of the people of Ekron. This teaches us that every one of them made the image of the deity he followed and would put it in his pocket. When he would think about it, he would take it out of his pocket and kiss it.


Ein Ayah: When thoughts of the divine are connected properly to purity of the intellect and of morality, it continually increases and ever more draws closer to the eternal light of this world and all of the worlds. However, when purity is missing and when ignorance is prevalent, the coarse materialistic characteristics pollute all of the heart and the spirit. Then, the thought of sanctity and recognition of Hashem is turned into a small idea that does not go beyond his individual understanding of the divine. It contains no more aspiration than the little that he himself presently possesses. It has only a small amount of ability to spiritually fly; some amount must exist because a thought of the divine has at least some measure of spirituality. This is the flying of a fly, which is small and despised. It also resembles the yetzer hara, which is like a fly that sits between the openings of the heart (based on High Holiday prayers). 

This lacking form of fear of Hashem, which is unique in regard to scope and form, is a result of the lowliness and coarseness of this type of lowly thought. It is especially connected to the imagination of personal benefit, which can be described as an individual’s pocket. The feelings of longing toward Hashem are capable of elevating the intellect and feeling, the power of both the spirit and the physicality, to an eternal lofty blessing. However, lowly thoughts can turn them into vehicles of despicable idolatry, which lowers a man to the level of an insignificant living thing such as a fly. It can cause him to wallow in waste-like materials, along with his originally positive feelings of spiritual longings. They became like a fly in a pocket, which, in a warped manner, becomes the subject of intense affection, so that people take it out to kiss and hug upon thinking about it.

This ba’al brit (possessor of a covenant) does not so connect with one who has aspiration and an idealistic thought of unification, but rather relates to the low level of prayers for his own personal needs. This occurs when one’s intellect and morality are destroyed.

On the other hand, these problematic feelings, even after they were lowered and defiled, are still destined to be purified and return to their source at the height of the divine embrace of that which is lofty and all-inclusive. This is due to the ability of the Jewish spirit to repent out of a feeling of love, as we are promised. See Zecharia 9:7, which talks about the return of Ekron (possessors of the lowly idol) to be like Yevusi, which is another name for Jerusalem. This is the place where the recognition of Hashem is on the highest and most eternal level. By contrast, we can see how lowly the thought was before it was purified, when it was connected to the form of a fly and found in the very individualistic part of a person, represented by his pocket. When everyone cares about “his pocket,” it blinds his spiritual side to the extent that he is lowly enough to take it out of his pocket to kiss it and hug it when he just thinks about it.
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