Monday, December 27, 2010

Shemot - Going Down to Egypt as a Soul Going Down into the World

These are the names of Israel's sons coming to Egypt with Jacob, each man came with his house.”

There are seventy ways to learn the Torah, the four most well known being "simple meaning," "hint," "moral lesson," and "secret." Here we have learning by the way of "hint." The story of the sons of Jacob going down to Egypt is a hint to the story of a baby who is still in his mother's tummy, limited by its walls. The word Egypt, Mitzraim, literally means “borders,” or “limits.”

Just as a body has 248 main members and 365 connecting tissues, the same are present in the soul itself, and they represent various strengths of the soul, which is going down into the world with its limitations.

“With Jacob” means that the strengths of the soul come into the body while it is yet unborn, and
"with Jacob" means "with the Good Inclination." "Coming" (and not "came") means that all the time that a man grows and develops, his souls keeps coming to him. Even though a man is holy, it is God who makes him holy. This is hinted to by the phrase “There is no one as holy as God, and there is nobody but Him.” Thus the strengths of the soul keeps coming to the baby as it develops, until he is born, when he becomes “man came with his house.”

And then “A new king who did not know of Joseph came into power over Egypt.” That is the Evil Inclination, an old and stupid king “over Egypt” - that is, while still unborn and limited by the tummy. “Who did not know of Joseph” means that he did not know God. Then the new stupid king says to his people – who represent the forces of impurity - “Look at the Children of Israel” - who represent the strengths of the soul - “They are stronger than us!” What does he do? He says, “Let's build cities” - body, and the name of one city is “Pithom” - “Pi tehom” - a mouth without end to its desires. The name of the other city is “Ramses” - “Ra” - bad, “Mses” - desires.

However, “the more they oppressed them, the more they grew” - just as man is given more desires that serve the Evil Inclination, at the same time he is supplied with more soul, allowing him to reach ever higher spiritual potential.

Art: Salomon de Bray - Joseph Receives His Father and Brothers in Egypt

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