Yisro

Torah Fax
Friday, January 24, 2003 - 21 Shevat, 5763

Torah Reading: Yitro (Exodus 18:1 - 20:23)
Candle Lighting Time: 4:45 PM
Shabbat Ends: 5:48 PM

The Doctor Is In IV

This week's parsha distinguishes itself as the one that contains the Ten Commandments, the first set of Divine laws that were given to the Jewish people at Sinai. In the preceding three messages, we have explained the significance of the ten plagues as parallel steps towards realizing self-improvement and spiritual development, i.e., the Ten Commandments.

The ninth plague of darkness follows the plague of locust, which, as discussed in last week's message, represents the complete change of one's perspective that derives from the intellectual exercise of Torah study. Torah study has the capacity to alter one's mindset, from exile mentality to a liberated spiritual mind.

The plague of darkness was accompanied by two other events. First, there were a large number of Israelites who refused to leave Egypt. Tragically, our rabbis tell us, they all perished then and were buried during the plague of darkness so that the Egyptians would not be aware of this tragedy. Secondly, the Midrash relates that while the Egyptians were stuck in their homes oblivious to their surroundings, the Israelites surveyed the Egyptian homes and discovered the whereabouts of all their treasures. When the Israelites, upon G‑d's request, asked the Egyptians for clothing and valuables ("reparations" for centuries of oppression and slavery) the Egyptians denied that they had them. At that point, the Israelites identified the hiding places of their treasures. 

In terms of spiritual development, the plague of darkness, which represents the total arresting of the Egyptian mindset that follows the complete saturation of one's mind in the wisdom of Torah, also guaranteed that we do not make two fatal mistakes in our
spiritual liberation experience. The first thing that happens when we leave "Egypt," meaning the spiritually constraining state of exile, is to not want to part with what has become part of us. And as much as we are intellectually convinced of the limiting and even degrading nature of exile, we loath giving it up. During the plague of darkness, the Jews buried all of those who had a love affair with their exile experience and insisted on taking it with them, even as they leave it.

But, conversely, there are those who revert to the opposite extreme by so repudiating the exile experience that they leave behind the treasures that we gain from it. While exile is a negative experience, there are hidden treasures that are planted there. Whenever we rise
above the constraints of the exile experience, we discover incredible treasures and potential energy hidden in it. Upon leaving exile we must take these treasures along with us.

Tragically, there are those who reverse the process, while they take along the Galut/slave/exile mentality with them, they leave the treasures behind. The plague of darkness teaches us that even if we are up to the final stage of redemption, we must make sure to take along with us the positive energies that can be salvaged form Egypt, while at the same time, we must leave behind the negative, "exile" frame of mind.

This plague of darkness can be said to parallel the ninth commandment, which prohibits the bearing of false testimony. A Jew, even in exile, is there as a testimony to G‑d's
presence in this world and in our lives. When a Jew, as a result of exile conditions, allows this perception to be clouded and considers himself a part of exile, he is in effect bearing false testimony against what his very essence is all about. With the plague of darkness, and the burial of the exile-tainted mindset, we become valid witnesses.

All of the above leads us to the ultimate plague or step in spiritual self-advancement, the Plague of the Firstborn. During that plague, the Jewish first-born were spared even as the first-born Egyptians perished. The first-born is a metaphor for the elite powers and talents we possess. By successfully completing all of the nine preceding steps, we reach our goal of total self-actualization, where our most elite faculties can thrive.

This plague can be said to parallel the tenth commandment not to covet the possessions of another. Human nature is to often look jealously at the gains of others because we fail to appreciate our own special qualities. With the final removal of every obstacle to revealing our own most powerful and rich nature, we no longer need to be validated by others.

Indeed, Maimonides describes the ultimate Messianic age as a time when there will be no more jealousy because the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d. When we realize ultimate knowledge, including knowledge of one's own elite nature, we no longer can be jealous of another. We will experience the ultimate in freedom and happiness.

Moshiach Matters

The present state of the world is called "gola". The state of the world as it will soon be is called "geula". The two words are exactly the same, except that "geula" has the letter "alef" inserted in the middle. "Alef" means "master". It also means "one". To make gola into geula, we only need reveal the alef-the One Master of the Universe who is hidden within the artifacts of our present world. From Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, Rabbi Tzvi Freeman. www.therebbe.com

Moshiach - Its a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com

© 2001- 2005 Chabad of the West Side