Texts: Exodus 10:1-13:16 || Jeremiah 46:13-46:28
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavours to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
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DISCLAIMER – The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA’TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
Our last few Parashot have repeatedly pointed to “A Time of Trouble” approaching the People of HaShem, like the 10 Plagues and the death of the first-born of Egypt before the Exodus, as we are drawing closer to the Time of the Ultimate Redemption, i.e. the Restoration of the Reconciled 12 Tribed Kingdom of HaShem.
Jeremiah 16 describes this as follows:
14 “The days are coming,” declares HaShem, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as HaShem lives, Who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as HaShem lives, who brought the Israelites [12 Tribes] up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.”
This is referred to as the ‘Second Exodus‘ and does not only refer to the return of Jews to the Land of Israel after World War 2, but to the Return also of millions of re-identified Ten Tribers who have lost all identity among the nations where they were exiled for 2800 years. The immensity of such a vast re-identification and Return will totally overshadow the original miracle filled Exodus from Egypt, according to Jeremiah.
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The Rabbis are united on the principle that HaShem uses periods of travail upon His People to purify and strengthen them spiritually. Their struggles with hardship, adversity and misfortune serve to mold them into the righteous likeness which they require to be part of His Kingdom and to be in His Service.
This Divine method is not just used in the final refining process of His elect, but, throughout all humanity, even as initial Calls for their heart and minds. The Ten Plagues of our last two Parashot are perfect example of this, and it holds many strategic guidelines for the sincere observer. HaShem constantly calls on those who know Him not, who rebel against Him, but, in response, like Pharaoh, they challenge Him, for they do not wish to acknowledge Him. First G-d appeals to their emotions, but, like against Pharaoh, after the first Plagues, G-d changes His approach and even hardens his heart, while appealing to his intellect.
We, the people of Judah and 10-Israel today, when applying the allegory of ‘Pharaoh’ to ourselves, are also hard of heart against His Calls for higher devotion and commitment. This becomes especially evident with regard to the approaching Final Redemption (which also entails working for Peace in His House which is so disastrously split in two). We do not respond to His Calls for change and rethinking. We hesitate, turn our ears and hearts away, procrastinate, promise falsely and continue in our ways of neglecting the Cause for Peace in Zion..
Then, like with Pharaoh, HaShem “puts on the screws” when He Calls for final refining. This time He is using a different Calling. He is appealing to our intellectual resources rather than our emotional. The Troubles may increase, physical persecution may become a reality (like through wars or anti-Semitic onslaughts even on our lives). It is all about a higher Calling for Final Refining.
This insight into the spiritual implications of the Ten Plagues is given in a Commentary on Parashat Boh by Chasidic Rabbi Biggs. We publish an extract of it here:
Parashat Bo – Kabbalistic Dimensions of the Plagues
by Rabbi Biggs
The Exodus from Egypt was a precursor for the coming of Moshiach. As we study and relive the Exodus, our yearning for Moshiach is heightened.
The ten plagues parallel the ten Sefirot, the ten Divine emanations by which Hashem creates the world. The Sefirot are divided into two types, three intellectual and seven emotional. Evil also has ten Sefirot of impurity through which it exists. The ten plagues broke the ten negative forces of Egypt and prepared for the revelation of the Ten Commandments. Last week we read of the first seven plagues, which parallel the emotions. This week we read the final three, which parallel the intellect. The three faculties of the intellect are Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at [Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge] (the abbreviations of the three together form ChaBaD). The plagues were in an ascending order.
The first plague [of the last three] in this week’s portion is locusts, which paralleled Da’at. Da’at, translated as ‘knowledge,’ is the faculty by which we connect the intellect and the emotions. It is possible to understand something well on an intellectual level with no effect on our emotional traits or actions. We often come to the full intellectual resolve that we should adopt good practices or reject bad habits but it doesn’t happen. Think for a moment how many of us smoke or drive without seatbelts, knowing full well the dangers involved. This is because the resolve remains in the intellect, and has not reached Da’at. Da’at is attained through repeatedly meditating upon and applying the conclusions of our thoughts until they become second nature. The Talmud states that a child only develops Da’at when he eats grain. The locusts, which destroyed the grain, were the antithesis of Da’at. In our service of Hashem, Da’at is constantly attuning our emotions by meditating on the greatness of Hashem and how each Mitzvah creates a bind with His infinite light until this becomes our ingrained perception.
Binah means ‘understanding’. When an idea first falls into our head, we don’t fully grasp it. When we carefully consider the idea, analyzing how it answers numerous questions and sheds light in other areas, this is the power of Binah. When we fully understand something, it illuminates our awareness. Darkness and confusion are the opposite of Binah. Thus, the ninth plague is darkness. In our service of Hashem Binah means to study each concept we learn in Torah until it illuminates our minds and hearts.
Chochmah (wisdom) is the first Sefirah. In intellect, it represents the first awakening of a new idea. As a trait, it represents the nullification to that which is higher. The Hebrew word Chochmah is a composite of the two words Koach and Mah, which means the power of nullification. Because of its humility, Chochmah is able to be the channel of all life. The first born of Egypt were the antithesis of Chochmah and of the life that Chochmah represents. Therefore the plague connected to Chochmah is the smiting of the first-born. This is represented by dedicating our first thought in any issue towards service of Hashem. When we rise, our first words are “Modeh Ani”
Conclusion and application to Judah and 10-Israel
As we approach the reality of the Redemption, there are things that have to change and need to be achieved:
- The restoration and recognition of the Lost House of Israel, consisting of Ten Tribes in exile among the nations, beyond realization or recognition.
- Reconciliation has to be achieved between these re-identifying and returning Lost Ten Tribers and the House of Judah before the Peace can be established which will trigger the Return of the Shechinah (visible Divine Presence) of HaShem to Zion (the Land of Israel).
- Judah (the Jews) have to “recognize Yosef” (who are busy re-awakening to their Hebraic Roots and approaching Judah for re-identifying and Return). To Jews today, it must be much like ancient Israel having to accept foreigner to them and Egyptian style Moses, or Yosef, in his ‘Egyptian Cloak’ of many colours.
- Ephraim (Ten Tribes) who are in process of awakening and re-identification across the entire world, has to turn away from their inherited pride and rebellion against Judah (as their fathers did for which they were exiled into oblivion). As the returnee Prodigal son, they have to respect and acknowledge their ‘Brother’ Judah who has faithfully been keeping ‘The House of their Father’ during their exile ‘to the pig sties of paganism.’ They should shake off their arrogance of pride in rediscovery of Torah principles and rather than try to ‘save’ Judah, humble themselves and acknowledge the Divine Mandate of Judah as the ‘Mechoqeck’ of HaShem (‘Lawgiver of G-d,’ Ps. 60:7, 108:8).
Like HaShem did with Pharaoh, He will “put on the screws” in this final refining. He will be appealing to our intellectual rather than our emotional spirituality. The world is facing catastrophic culmination for its evil empire Babylon which it has been building throughout nearly 6000 years. The Sabbath Millennia is at the door.
Chochmah, Binah, and Da’at (Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge). Both Houses urgently need more Knowledge about each other and about the controversial way that Redemption will have to come. We need Understanding of each other. This will result in Wisdom about HaShem’s Redemption Plan, to realize our individual personal responsibilities, to accept each other and thus to establish Peace in Zion. Now we may grasp why HaShem refers to His ‘Servant,’ whom He is preparing to be a Light unto the Nations, as being “blind and deaf”. With all the wonderful knowledge and insight that is available today, we still do not recognize, acknowledge and accept each other as the Final Step to bringing the Final Redemption about.
Our Haftarah concludes with a wonderful confirmation of all this:
Haftarah – Jeremiah 46:27-28
“Do not be afraid, Jacob [12 Tribes of Israel] My servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel [10 Tribes, or, in this context also all 12].
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.
28 Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
for I am with you,” declares HaShem.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”