This Week’s Torah Portion | January 29 – February 4, 2017 – 2 Shevat – 8 Shevat, 5777
In A Nutshell
In the portion, Bo (Come), the Creator—through Moses—tells defiant Pharaoh he must let the people of Israel go. The Creator casts two more plagues over Pharaoh, Locust and Darkness, and Pharaoh says to Moses, “Go away from me! Beware; do not see my face again for in the day you see my face you shall die” (Exodus, 10:28). Moses replies, “You are right; I shall never see your face again” (Exodus, 10:29). Indeed, Moses keeps his word.
The Creator tells Moses that after the final plague Pharaoh will let the children of Israel go. The children of Israel begin to prepare for the tenth plague, the plague of the first-born, and borrow from the Egyptians silver and gold vessels, as well as garments, preparing for their release.
The Creator outlines to Moses the rules of the Passover offering that the children of Israel will need to meet: slaughter a lamb in the twilight, spread its blood on the doorposts (Mezuzot) and on crossbars, and eat the lamb that same night together with Matzot (unleavened bread) and Maror (horse-radish). The children of Israel follow suit.
At midnight, when a great cry rises in Egypt at the strike of the Plague of the First-Born, Pharaoh urges the children of Israel to leave Egypt in haste. The children of Israel leave taking the mixed multitude along with them, and flocks and cattle in great numbers.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
The exodus from Egypt described in this portion is both very significant and dramatic. Each moment in our lives is a remembrance to the exodus from Egypt. This is the point at which the human in us is born, when we come out of our egos, of the will to receive.
We all begin selfish, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” The evil inclination grows within us and causes us to be increasingly egoistic. Throughout human history we have been developing in this manner until we have come to a state where we feel that our entire nature is evil and we must exit it, get rid of it, and so we look for a solution. It is a process that unfolds in both individuals and in the entire human society.
When the Pharaoh in us grows, meaning our evil inclination, it does not let us live. The point in the heart, Moses in us, escapes from the ego in order to gain strength, then returns in order to fight it. Only once we understand how this “game” unfolds in us do we return to fight against the ego, much like Moses returns to Egypt to fight against Pharaoh.
When a person begins to discover the upper force, even a little bit, he or she discovers that everything happens from above, that “there is none else besides Him” (Deuteronomy, 4:35), and that includes Pharaoh, the Creator, and Moses who is between them. In this struggle, our inner Moses must decide who will rule over him, Pharaoh or the Creator.
The Creator teaches Moses to face the ego, fight, and rise above it. He always sends Moses to Pharaoh because “I have hardened his heart” (Exodus, 10:1). If we know, through the wisdom of Kabbalah, how to draw the “light that reforms”  and pass through the ten Sephirot of our evil inclination, the ten plagues, the process will not be so hard. This process is called “hastening,” as opposed to the way, “in due time,” which is paved with torments, wars, and other unpleasant events.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is appearing in order to let us through the states easily and pleasantly. The first to experience them will be the people of Israel, followed by the rest of the world, as it is written, “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah, 31:33), “For My house shall be called ‘a house of prayer’ for all the nations” (Isaiah, 56, 7). This is why everyone will face the exodus from Egypt, and the first to do it are the people of Israel because it is our task to be “a light for the nations” (Isaiah, 42:6).
The struggle against our ego, Pharaoh, who will not let us unite and achieve a state of “Love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah” —by which we must connect in Arvut (mutual guarantee)—leads to the three final and hardest plagues. These plagues are the GAR of the degree, the first three: Locust, Darkness, and the Plague of the First Born.
In the final plague, when we feel how wicked is our evil inclination, how it detaches us from life, we detach ourselves from it. This is why Pharaoh warns Moses that if he should approach him even once more he will be put to death, since this inclination truly puts us to death.
Moses in us is ready for this plague because he knows that through it he will be born; he will come out of Egypt and rise to a level of connection among everyone, and find within him the quality of bestowal. He will attain the sensation of the next world, the sensation of eternity, perfection, and the upper force that resides in him.
When one attains perfection through this complicated process, that person makes a sacrifice. The Hebrew word sacrifice is Korban, from the word Karov (near). When we offer a sacrifice we draw closer to the quality of bestowal. The Passover offering expresses our efforts to reach the good inclination, which is above the quality of reception, above the evil inclination. We pass over the ego and approach the desire to bestow. That move is done with the Passover blood, similar to the birth-blood. We are born in blood, as it is written, “In your blood, live” (Ezekiel 16:6).
We advance this way until we reach the night of the exodus from Egypt. In that state we “borrow vessels from the Egyptians,” taking from them desires. Instead of the intentions to receive, we have only the intentions to bestow. We take the desire to receive along with the desire to bestow, and go out of Egypt with both. All that we leave in Egypt are the intentions to receive, which are the evil. That is, we take the inclination, but we leave the evil behind. Subsequently, we add to the inclination, the desire, the intention to bestow, thus making it a good inclination. This is why we entered Egypt to begin with—to bring out of the Egyptians the desires to receive, with which we were all born initially.
Afterward comes the Plague of the First-Born to all the Egyptians in us, to our entire evil inclination. This is the final blow, by which the light that reforms arrives and hands a final blow to the domination of the evil inclination over us. This is when we rise above it toward connection between us.
In that connection we begin to feel the exodus from Egypt, from the evil inclination, which was interfering with our connection, with being in the Assembly of Israel, which assembles us together. Only through connection between all of us do we discover the Creator, the upper light, the spiritual world, our perfection and eternity.
When we come out of Egypt there is a festive eating of the Passover offering with the evil. We come out with the bread, the bread of the poor, Matzot, and we are born anew when we rise above our egos, above the will to receive, and into the desire to bestow. Henceforth we will be ready for the spiritual ascent.
The first degree we attain upon the exodus from Egypt is the spiritual birth. This is the hardest transition, in which we cast away all the habits and customs by which we perceived reality, the world, and our relationships. In this transition, we rise above all the elements that built us, and by which we developed in our world. We move from there into a world that operates entirely on bestowal, on Arvut, on connection. It is truly an opposite world.
When we cross we begin to experience nature in the opposite manner, following the laws of bestowal instead of those of reception. We begin to act differently, follow different rules, and reality appears different than before. We continue to develop with the same Pharaoh we had left behind; we only took the vessels from him, as it is written, “afterward they shall come out with great substance” (Genesis, 15:14).
When we are surrounded by a society, studies, and the light that reforms that we draw, we draw in the forces that pull us out of Egypt. Therefore, even in very difficult situations we need not fear standing up to our egos.
Questions and Answers
When do we feel that we have come out of Egypt?
Only when we come out of Egypt. It happens suddenly, in the dark. We feel nothing before it happens; we are dazed, disoriented, just as in birth. We come out to a new life we do not know, and take only what we need—the desires that have no intentions to receive, without the bad intentions, called the “big vessels” that we take from Egypt. The children of Israel are the ones who take them, the ones who want to be Yashar El (straight to God), straight to bestowal, to love of others.
The exodus from Egypt happens at midnight. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, this is when the building of the Kelim (vessels) begins toward the dawn. In that state we feel bad because of the darkness and the disorientation and confusion. We do not understand what is happening to us. But one point in us tells us, “Do it,” and we are willing to do it, following the preparation that does not let us remain in our egos—which are really putting us to death, so we get out and escape.
From The Zohar: A Lamb for a Household
“Israel did not come out of Egypt until the government of all their ministers was broken above.” This is called all of the ten Klipot (shells/peels), the ten plagues by which Egypt is broken. “And Israel departed their domain and came to the domain of the upper holiness,” called “bestowal,” “love of others, “in the Creator, and tied to Him … that, ‘I brought [them] out from the land of Egypt’; I have brought them out of the other authority and brought them into My authority.”
Zohar for All, Bo (Come), item 165
The idea is to move from the intention to receive to the intention to bestow, from a state of constantly thinking of ourselves—how to profit, succeed, and exploit the whole world—to the opposite state. It is truly an internal revolution in a person who still does not understand there is another way to live—in bestowal, love, rising above the self—though there are constantly desires to receive within us.
During the forty years in the desert, the children of Israel experience events such as the golden calf and the division of the Red Sea. These events are not easier than the exodus from Egypt, but the exodus is the detachment from our ego.
Following the exit are descents and ascents, and our will to receive keeps showing more and more of itself. The children of Israel do not exit by themselves. Along with them come the mixed multitude: people who are drawn after them, who also want to reach an enlightened world, but without correcting their egos. They are willing to keep Torah and Mitzvot but without correcting the ego.
What is the difference between the exodus from Egypt for those with a point in the heart, and those without the point?
There is a big difference between them. Israel is called Li Rosh (I have a mind) because they do it consciously, being aware of what is happening to them. We perform these actions and experience these them on ourselves with the Creator. We draw the light that reforms, and this is called “working on Galgalta and Eynaim, as it is written, “And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 9:6), meaning everyone in bestowal.
Conversely, those who do not need it—because they lack that type of connection to Godliness, the point in the heart—are called “the nations of the world.” They do not feel they must correct the evil in them, their egos, that they must rise and be in Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator.
We are living in a very special time. The whole world is in crisis; everyone must be reborn, whether they want to or not.
True, but the rest of the world is pushed from behind through suffering. They do not, and will not have the pull from before. The rest of the world feels the necessity to get out of the troubles, while we, Israel, feel a necessity to draw toward bestowal, love of others, and through it achieve the love of the Creator. It is a fundamental difference. We are advancing through the positive force of bestowal, the pulling force, while the rest of the world is advancing through the pushing force that prods them. It is very different, which is why they cannot advance by themselves.
We must connect to them as Galgalta Eynaim toward the AHP, and pass on the bestowal to them through us. We must be their “light for the nations.” Although they will not understand what they are doing, they will connect to us, as Isaiah says, “And the peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the Lord” (Isaiah, 14:2). This is how they will be corrected.
The Plague of the First-Born stands opposite the Keter; it is the conclusion of all the plagues. With each plague, it is as if another slice of the intention to receive is cut off from the will to receive. The intention to receive is a Klipa that is sorted and separated, and the will to receive remains bare and unused.
Malchut, Yesod, Hod, Netzah, Tifferet, Gevura, Hesed, Bina, Hochma, and Keter correspond to the ten plagues. The plague corresponding Keter is the hardest because it is as the Rosh (head) in relation to the rest of the blow, and also because its Aviut (thickness, will to receive) is the biggest. Of the degrees of desire—root, 1, 2, 3, 4—Keter is the strongest egoistic desire.
This is how we detach from the ego and seemingly “kill” Pharaoh. Precisely so does the ego begin to understand that there really is existence in order to bestow, and it asks the children of Israel to bless it.
It is not simple because we still have not fully grasped all of it. In the end, “There is none else Him”; a single force of the Creator that everything. Pharaoh is an angel that seems to be against us, but it, too, is in the hands of the Creator; it is how they work together. For now, this is how our correction takes place in the right-and-left we work with. But afterward we will learn how to work with both, in three lines. We learn it in relation to the Masach de Hirik, in the big corrections.
From The Zohar: And It Came to Pass at Midnight
Even “All the firstborn.” A firstborn is considered Hochma, and “All the firstborn” indicates that even the higher and lower degrees were broken from their dominion. All those degrees that rule by their power of Hochma, which is the wisdom of Egypt, as it is written, “All the first-born in the land of Egypt.”
Zohar for All, Bo (Come), item 118
Our ego suffers each degree on the highest level. Our will to receive is in us, and nowhere else, not even in Egypt. Everything unfolds within because man is a small world. We are beginning to feel that the angel of death is destined to join, as it is written that the angel of death will be a holy angel. This is why Pharaoh asks for a blessing because he still cannot connect by himself. And yet, he understands that a new era has begun.
Today’s Egypt is also showing signs of it. There are the pyramids that the children of Israel built, and there are pyramids that the Egyptians built, and they are built completely differently.
In relation to the process within us, it seems like a split personality. Do we have within us the plagued Pharaoh on one side, and Moses delighting in the exodus on the other?
Yes, these two forces are within us. We usually feel them when we ascend or descend. When we are egoistic, or when we do not know what to do with our ego, when we are in the dark. Conversely, when we are elated, working in order to bestow, like the Creator, the light shines for us. A beginner is like Moses returning from Jethro: he already discovered the Creator, so now he is retuning with both forces.
Do we experience the two forces?
In a struggle, we experience both the force of Pharaoh and the force of Moses. We already know how to make the force of bestowal reign over the force of reception.
Is this why it was said, “Come to Pharaoh”?
Yes, and each time the Creator makes the will to receive heavier, harder. He increasingly opens up the will to receive within us, and we must overcome it and continue.