(Torah Portion Terumah) No Fly Zone
The Parsha deals exclusively with the components, materials and dimensions necessary for the construction of the Tabernacle – Temple that accompanied the Jews in their travels through the desert.
It is hard to imagine what this Temple or the Temple in Jerusalem was like. It was located on earth, yet it was the dwelling place of G-d’s glory – where the supernatural existed within.
The Mishna in Ethics of the Fathers, lists ten miracles that were apparent in the Temple. The Mishna tells us that one of the miracles was, that the sacrificial meat never became putrid nor was a fly ever seen in the Holy Temple!
This was despite the fact that there were many animal and bird offerings brought to the Temple, with an abundance of meat prepared in an exposed area of the Temple with no refrigeration throughout the year. Were it not for this miracle there would be much concern about the meat spoiling and fly and insect infestation during the hot summer months.
Flies and the like are unique amongst species having a brazen nature, continually returning no matter how many times they are chased away. Flies are always attracted to rancid areas.
Our Sages drew a parallel between the fly and our evil inclination. Just like a fly reappears even though it is chased away, so too, no matter how many times we vigilantly send our evil inclination away, it brazenly reappears not allowing us to rest.
The Temple was the symbol of purity and could not tolerate flies or the evil inclination represented by the fly. The experience of being in the Temple raised one’s awareness and consciousness of the spiritual, helping him combat the challenges he was faced with. The Talmud relates that a fly was never found around Elisha the prophet’s table due to his purity.
This phenomenon was observed even in more recent times. When there was a profusion of mosquitoes and gnats and everyone was busy waving them away, they kept their distance from both Rabbi Moshe Feinstein o.b.m. and Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian o.b.m.
Our Sages compare the fly to those people who constantly speak negatively about others. Just as a fly seeks and swoops to the dirtiest and filthiest areas, so too, those who thrive on speaking badly about others, look and notice people’s faults, sharing them with others.
We should learn a lesson from the flies that kept away from the Temple area due to its holiness. If we view our fellow Jew as one who possesses a holy soul – Neshama – with an element of G-dliness within him, we will be prevented from focusing on or sharing their faults.
The Talmud asks, “The Mishna begins with stating that there were ten miracles that happened in the Temple, yet the last two listed, deal with miracles that occurred in Jerusalem and not the Temple itself?”
Commentators explain that the miracles occurred in Jerusalem only because of the holiness of the Temple in its midst. The Temple’s holiness and miraculous existence spread out and expanded to include Jerusalem as well. Therefore the miracles of Jerusalem are attributed to the Temple.
The same concept applies to our personal spiritual activities and accomplishments. Not only do they serve to uplift us on a personal level, the positive spiritual energy overflows to our environment and surroundings as well.
Wishing you a most restful, uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks