Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Bo, during which the
Jewish people left Egypt. 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 Baal Shem Tov
taught that one of the ways to hasten the coming of Moshiach is
the study of Pnimiut Hatorah, the inner face of Torah. This week
we will attempt to delve into deeper aspects of the week's Torah
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 (the abbreviations of the three together form ChaBaD). The
plagues were in an ascending order.
The first plague in this week's portion was 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.
Da’at is learning to see Hashem’s hand in everything that
happens and react accordingly.
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 was
darkness. In our service of Hashem Binah means to study each
concept we learn in Torah until it illuminates our minds and
hearts, seeking the lesson and meaning of every story and every
nuance in the Torah.
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
was the smiting of the first-born. In service of Hashem this is
expressed by thinking of Hashem first and thereafter of our
needs. This is fortified by several Mitzvot: Challah we give the
first dough to the Kohen; when the Temple stood the first fruits
were brought to the Temple; Modeh Ani should be our first words
when we awake; we begin our day with prayers before eating or
going to work.
At the conclusion of the portion, two Mitzvot are mentioned
which parallel these ideas. The Mitzvah of Tefillin is mention
twice. Tefillin are worn on the head and opposite the heart,
which represents the subjugation of the mind and heart to the
service of Hashem. This is the epitome of Da’at, combining the
mind and heart in the service of Hashem. The Mitzvah of
sanctifying the first-born is discussed, which corresponds to
Just as in the portion we merited the conclusion of the
redemption from Egypt, may we merit to be united this Shabbat in
the celebration of the final redemption with the coming of
Dedicated in memory of Shmuel Ben Yitzchok Halevi (Siggi) Wilzig
on the occasion of his Yohrtzeit. May his soul be bound in the
bond of eternal life with Hashem
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