This week’s parsha recounts the event of the cheit haegel. Chazal tell us that the effects of this grave sin are still felt today. That is, in every sin there exists a latent nekudeh derived from the cheit haegel. What is this nekudeh, and how did it become part of our every sin we do?
In order to answer this question, we have to understand the depths of the cheit haegel. Meforshim provide countless explanations as to the nature of the sin. Maybe we can offer our own mahalach.
Chazal liken the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai to a chuppah between HaShem and klal Yisrael. The Gemara in Yevamos teaches us that a person cannot be called a “man” unless he’s married. That is to say, that the nature of marriage is to complete a person. The Zohar haKodosh points out this idea and says that before the creation of a person, HaShem tears a neshama in two, places one half in a male body and the other half in a female body. The marriage is the unification of these two parts of the soul. In this sense, they complete each other.
The same is true by the “chuppah” of Matan Torah. Before Matan Torah, klal yisrael was incomplete. The definition of klal Yisrael didn’t come into its actualized completeness before the matan Torah. Matan Torah achieved this shleimus, this completion of our spiritual definition.
Along these lines, we can understand why the nekudeh of the cheit hagegel exists within each and every one of our sins today. The cheit haegel represented a divide from HaShem. Even though we experienced HaShem only forty days earlier, the cheit was as if we were divorcing ourselves from this marriage with HaShem. Chazal tell us that a person only sins when a “ruach shtus” has grabbed a hold of him. That is, even if he could be so clear of emes and the right thing to do in a certain situation, a person could still slip because he becomes temporarily enshrouded in darkness. This nekudeh is one we see from the cheit haegel. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz goes through midrashim dealing with the circumstances surrounding klal yisrael at that time. The world turned bleak and gray and the Satan showed kal yisrael the coffin of Moshe Rabeinu descending form the mountain. They thought he had died! To them, all was lost. In that moment of bleakness and darkness, klal yisrael was able to sin, even though they had experienced the most intense revelation the world has ever seen forty days earlier. Even though they had so much light, the darkness still blinded them and they were able to sin.
Rav Yerucham Levovitz says that a person sin has deep roots. It doesn’t merely exist as an external action, rather it comes from a deep seeded shoresh which predestines a person to sin. This root is that a person allows himself to be clouded by darkness; that he isn’t strong enough to repel the “ruach shtus.” The avodah of a person is to constantly connect to HaShem’s light. To be a “light unto the darkness” doesn’t just mean showing morality and middos in a world which has gone insane. It means being the light within one’s own darkness. That even when all seems bleak and lost, to realize and connect to the flickering light of a neshama that we have inside of us. When we connect to that light, then the darkness, the “ruach shtus” can’t grab a hold of us. Only then can we truly change and free ourselves from sin.