God hardened the heart of Paroah, the king of Egypt, and he chased after B’nei Yisroel, and B’nei Yisroel left with an exalted hand (yad ramah). (Shemos 14:8)The simple explanation of the words “with an exalted hand” is with confidence. In other words, the Jewish people left Egypt for what was supposed to have been a three-day excursion (Shemos 5:3) into the Sinai Desert with a sense of no-return. What Paroah had not known at the time was that the Jewish people had only a “one-way ticket” out of Mitzrayim, with no plans to return—210 years of exile had finally come to an end.They made themselves a flag and a banner for display, and they went out “with excitement and with songs, with tabret and with harp” (Bereishis 31:27), like people who are redeemed from bondage to freedom, and not like slaves who expect to return to servitude. (Ramban, Shemos 14:5)
However, the word ramah is one of those interesting Hebrew words that, with a slight vowel change, not only becomes another word, but becomes one whose meaning is the just opposite:
... Rebi Eliezer only differs from the rabbis in the case of a worm, since a man even when alive is described as a worm, as it says, “How much less man that is a worm (rimah)... ” (Eyov 25:6). (Temurah 31a)Though the word ramah alludes to confidence, the word rimah (worm) alludes to just the opposite. And since a Sefer Torah is written without vowelization, it is possible to understand the word ramah as the word rimah, and derive a whole new insight into just exactly how the Jewish people left Egypt.
Indeed, it is this very duality that makes the Jewish people unique, at least as far as God is concerned:
God says to Yisroel, “I desire you, for even when I give you greatness, you reduce yourselves. I gave greatness to Avraham, and He said to me, ‘Dust and ashes I am ...’ (Bereishis 18:27); to Moshe and Aharon, and they said, ‘What are we?’ (Shemos 16:7); to Dovid, and he said, ‘I am a worm ...’ (Tehillim 22:7). However, this is not the case with the Nations of the World, for, I gave greatness to Nimrod, and he said, ‘Let us build a city for ourselves ...’ (Bereishis 11:4); to Paroah, and he said, ‘Who is Hashem?’ (Shemos 5:2); to Sancheriv, and he said, ‘Who among all the gods of the land ...’ (Melachim 2:18:35); to Nebuchadnetzar, and he said, ‘I will ascend on the heights of the cloud ...’ (Yishiyah 14:14); to Chiram the king of Tzur, and he said, ‘The dwelling place of Elokim I dwelled in the heart of days...’ (Yechezkel 28:1).” (Chullin 89a)Furthermore, the gematria kollel [one is added for each of the three letters of the word, totalling an addition of three; hence 245 (rm"h) + 3 = 248 (rm"ch). As mentioned earlier, the kollel of a number indicates that the concept is rooted on a high spiritual plain] of the word ramah is, in fact, the word romach—248—the Hebrew word for spear:
... And the amount of positive mitzvos in the Torah, which symbolize the kind of inspiration certainly alluded to by yad ramah.
The truth is, it is this very duality that is the theme of Seder Night. For, though we set the table with our finest dishes and silverware, and though we dress like kings and queens and dine like royalty, we are confronted, so to speak, by the “poor man’s bread” that stares out at us from the middle of the table. Matzah is anything but the fare of monarchies.
However, as the Talmud states, the mitzvah is to start b’ganus and finish b’sh’vach—first relate the disgrace, and then finish with praise (Pesachim 116a; Mishnah). In order to appreciate what it means to leave b’yad ramah, you have to first appreciate the concept of rimah.
To understand this inherent duality and its role in bringing about freedom from Mitzrayim, we must first ask a simple question: How did the Jews leave Egypt in the first place?
After all, at the time Moshe had first approached Paroah to free the Jewish people, Chazal tell us, they had been as low as low can get, having regressed to the forty-ninth level of spiritual impurity. (Contrary to popular belief, there is no fiftieth level of spiritual impurity (Leshem Shevo v’Achlamah, Dayah, 2:5:2:4-5).)
In fact, when Moshe had first told the Jewish people that the geulah was at hand, they themselves had difficulty accepting it. They looked at Egypt and its naturally impenetrable borders, and then they looked at themselves, and incredously told Moshe, “It’s not possible! Such a redemption would require untold miracles, and such untold miracles require tremendous merits, of which we possess very little, if any at all! Therefore, we repeat, we are not about to leave Egypt!” (Leshem Shevo v’Achlamah, Dayah, 2:5:4:3-5)
Moshe’s answer back to the Jewish people was, you’re right, and you’re wrong. You are right that leaving Mitzrayim will require unbelievable miracles, the likes of which have never been witnessed by mankind. However, you are going to see for yourselves that sometimes, God redeems His people by turning the natural world upside down, in spite of the fact that they lack sufficient merits to warrant such Divine intervention. In other words, Geulos Mitzrayim was going to be a gift.
A gift of what?
Every plague had a dual effect: a negative effect for the Egyptians and a positive one for the Jewish people. As each plague systematically destroyed Egypt and Egyptian morality, it simultaneously inspired the Jewish people and rebuilt Jewish confidence. The yad ramah the Jewish nation had left Egypt with had been building over the course of ten months, ever since the first plague, the plague of blood, had begun.
Why blood? Because the Hebrew word for blood is dumm, which is an integral part of the word adam, which means man. But not just any adam; the kind of adam that stands apart from the chamor, for, the other part of adam’s name is the letter aleph, which always stands for God, and Elokus—Godliness. Hence, implied in the name adam is the concept of a being made from blood (the symbol of physicality), and of being imbued with Godliness, that is, a soul.
Within man himself is the concept of ramah and rimah, of soul and body, and therefore the potential to be either an adam or a chamor. This is what the first plague cried out to the Jewish people:
Where has your sense of Godliness gone? Have you become no better than the chamor? Do you willfully eat from the same trough as the donkey? Can you only relate to Elokim, when it was your Forefather Avraham who related to Hashem—a rite of passage earned through Bris Milah! (Pri Tzadik, Parashas VaAirah, 1)Yosef tried to soften the blow of Egyptian mentality on the Jewish psyche, by taking advantage of the famine of his time to institute Bris Milah on the Egyptian population:
When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Paroah for bread; Paroah told all of Egypt, “Go to Yosef! Whatever he tells you, do!” (Bereishis 41:55)However, though this may have slowed the slide down to the forty-ninth level of spiritual impurity, it didn’t stop it. Therefore, the Ten Plagues had to act as both the hand of judgment against the Egyptian oppressors, and, at the same time, as a source of spiritual illumination for the Jewish people, to retore their perception of God in reality (Pri Tzadik, Parashas Bo, 1); to restore the aleph to their name, for, it is that aleph that is the entire difference between golus and geulah:He gave this order because Yosef had told them to be circumcized ... (Rashi)
|goleh (gimel, vav, lamed, heh)
(A goleh is one who is in golus (exile),
and a golem is what Adam was called
prior to receiving his soul
|+||aleph||=||geulah||dam (daled, mem)||+||aleph||=||adam|
The gematrios of the words geulah and adam are both forty-five, but the mispar katan is equal to nine, which happens to equal the mispar katan of the word for Truth—Emes. It is as if to say that the level of the true adam and of geulah is the level of revealed, ultimate truth—the level of Hashem.
[The mispar katan (small number) gematria is arrived at by taking the sum total of the letters (in this case, the words adam—1 + 4 + 40 = 45 = 4 + 5 = 9, geulah—3 + 1 + 6 + 30 + 5 = 9, and emes—1 + 40 + 400 = 441, or 4 + 4 + 1 = 9).]
The infusion of the aleph that resulted from each plague, which increasingly revealed the hand of God in history and the destiny of the Jewish people, was an infusion of da’as into the minds of the Jewish people. The Ten plagues may have been the closing of the book on Egyptian history, but they had also been the opening of the mind’s eye of the Jewish people.
Therefore, by the time God had executed the tenth and final plague against Egypt, the death of the firstborn, the Jewish people had risen from the depths of spiritual impurity as a result of their newly gained level of Da’as Elokim. This is why Paroah and the Egyptian people had no choice but to eject the Jewish nation from within their borders.
Thus is the incredible conquering power of the light of the Fifty Gates of Understanding. Though the Egyptians had been physically overturned by the yum (sea), they had been spiritually destroyed by the yum (yud, mem), that is, the Fifty Gates of Understanding. This is what the Talmud says:
There is no Gehinnon in The World-to-Come, except that The Holy One, Blessed is He, will take the sun out of its “pouch”—the righteous will be healed by it, and the evil will be judged by it. (Nedarim 8b)Even in This World, the same yum that annihilated the pursuing Egyptian army, also liberated the fleeing Jewish nation. The same yum that exalted the Jewish people and raised them to the level of intellectual clarity of zeh (for which the world was created (Brochos 6b)), also decimated the Egyptian army:
Then Moshe and B’nei Yisroel sang this Shira to God, and they said, “I will sing to God, for He is gloriously sublime; the horse and rider he has raised in the sea (ramah b’yum)... ”(Shemos 15:1)This is what the prophet warned:
... The paths of God are straight—the righteous walk them, but the evil stumble in them. (Hoshea 14:10)That is, the fifty “paths” of God was the route the Jewish people walked to freedom. Hence, Yetzias Mitzrayim is mentioned exactly fifty times throughout the entire Torah, to allude to the fifty gates Moshe had to elevate the Jewish people through on the way to geulah (Sefer Zevach Pesachim). And this had been the yad ramah with which the newly freed Jewish nation had left the meitzer yam—the constrictor of the Fifty Gates of Understanding! (See Chapter One)
However, because the da’as had been an indisputable gift from God, a tremendous sense of humility accompanied it as well, for:
At the time of leaving Mitzrayim, on the first night of Pesach, God became revealed to them by the Supernal Light, and they left with an “exalted hand,” without any veil separating them. They were filled with the light of Hashem ... and after that, He immediately hid it from them. They then became embittered as they recalled what had transpired to them while in Mitzrayim, that they had become so immersed in impurity to the point that, had they stayed any longer, they would have had to remain there. Their spirits became broken within them ... (Pri Tzadik, Parashas BeShallach, 1)For, it is da’as that leads to true awareness, and it is true awareness that leads to spiritual sensitivity to the Divine plan for creation, and how our actions can either help that plan along, or hinder it. For the Jewish people who had left Egypt, it had been like seeing in retrospect, from a point of safety, how a mistaken footstep could have easily resulted in a deathly fall—had it not been for a miracle! Such knowledge has a tremendously humbling effect!
This aspect of da’as had also been the source of Moshe’s tremendous humility, and why he had been such a perfect conduit for Da’as Elokim, as expressed through Torah:
Moshe was very humble, more than anyone else on the face of the earth. Suddenly, God spoke to Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam, “Go the three of you to the Appointed Tent.” God came down in a column of cloud, and stood in the entrance of the Tent, and called Aharon and Miriam; both of them went forward. He said, “Hear My words: If there is a prophet among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision, and speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moshe, who is faithful in all My house. With him I speak mouth-to-mouth, in a clear vision, and not in riddles; the ‘image’ of God he sees ...” (BaMidbar 12:3)Through da’as, humility and objectivity become one. To know what Moshe knew, to see reality as Moshe saw it, was to rise above personal interests and to abandon oneself to the overall purpose of creation. This is crucial for receiving the light of Torah, and for sharing it:
I [God] will come down and speak to you, and I will save some of the spirit that is upon you, and I will put it upon them [the Seventy Elders] ... (BaMidbar 11:17)This is also true yiras Hashem—fear of God, and the perfect balance of ramah and rimah. As a result of the high level of da’as Moshe possessed, he was both the most self-confident and charismatic teacher mankind has even known, and yet, the humblest one as well.What was Moshe like at that moment? He was like a candle from which everyone lights his lamp, and yet its illuminating power is not diminished. (Rashi)
It is also the delicate balance between ramah and rimah that guarantees continuity and the building of Jewish Malchus—kingship. We learn this from the Talmud:
Channah prayed and said, “My heart has rejoiced through the Lord; My horn (keren) has been exalted (ramah) by the Lord.” (Shmuel 1:2:1)The procedure for initiating a new Jewish king was to anoint him with olive oil. However, from the above Talmudic statement, it seems that the container holding the anointing oil played as much a role in the continuity of the malchus as the oil itself. The question, is why? What difference did it make to the longevity of a king’s rule if the container was made of ceramic, or of an animal’s horn?It says “My horn has been exalted,” but not “my jar (pach) has been exalted.” Dovid and Shlomo were anointed from a horn (keren), and therefore their rule was prolonged. Shaul and Yehu, however, were anointed with a jar (pach), and their rule was not prolonged (Krisos 6a).
The difference is at first mathematical, and then conceptual. If you subtract the value of hapach (jar) from the word keren (horn), the value arrived at is 245, or, ramah. Hence, the reason why Channah referred to her “horn” being exalted, and not her “jar” is, because, by definition, a keren is an exalted pach, so-to-speak! [That is, built into the numerical value of the word keren is the word hapach and ramah.]
What this means is the following. A pach, a ceramic container, is a symbol of humility. Like the physical body itself, it reminds us of how ignoble our beginning was, which is necessary for fear of transgression:
Akavia ben Mehalalel said: Look at three things and you won’t come to transgress: Know from where you have come and to where you are going, and before Whom you stand and will have to give an accounting. From where did you come from? From a putrid drop! ... (Pirke Avos 3:1)Such humility identifies us as descendants of Avraham:
Anyone who possesses three traits are students of Avraham Avinu ... The three traits, a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul, indicate a student of Avraham Avinu ... (Pirke Avos 5:22)At the other extreme, there is the keren, the representation of exaltedness. As base as our beginning may have been, we were still created in the image of God. We possess a special soul, unlike that of any other living being in this world, one so lofty that it could even confuse the angels at the beginning of history:
It is not good that man is alone ... (Bereishis 2:18)However, the gematria of keren indicates that it is really an exalted pach, that is, that even in a state of exaltedness, there must be a sense of lowliness as well. Without this balance—either the person is too humble or too proud—there is no true king. This, as Shmuel HaNavi pointed out, was what cost Shaul HaMelech the Malchus:They [creation] shouldn’t say that there are two powers, one Above that has no companion and one below that has no companion. (Rashi)
Shmuel said to Shaul, “Even if you are small in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you as king over Israel ... ” (Shmuel 1:15:17)On the other hand, Shaul’s successor, Dovid, the son of Yishai, possessed the perfect balance, on one hand, able to ask:
God, what is man that You recognize him; the son of a frail human, that You reckon with him? Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow ... (Tehillim 144:3)And on the other hand, bold enough to challenge the largest and fiercest with unwavering confidence. Whereas Shaul warned Dovid:
“You are unable to go to this Philistine to battle with him, for you are a lad, and he [Goliath] is a warrior since his youth.” (Shmuel 1:17:33)But Dovid answered:
“The Lord Who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” (Shmuel 1:17:37)And not only did Dovid go out to Goliath, while the rest of the entire army cowered behind the friendly lines, he went out without armor, carrying only his slingshot. The rest is history. The question is, why had Dovid been so successful? Why did Goliath fall into his hands, and not the hands of others? Because, as Dovid said,
“You come to me with spear and javelin, and I come to you with the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel which you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I shall kill you, and take off your head, and I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines this day, to the fowl of the air and to the beasts of the earth, and the earth will know that Israel has a God! And all this gathering will know that not with sword and javelin does the Lord save, for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver you into our hand.” (Shmuel 1:17:45)What Dovid understood was that the enemy, any Jewish enemy, is just a physical projection of a spiritual lacking in the da’as of Yisroel. [Interestingly enough, Goliath in Hebrew is Golyas, which is similar to the word golus, which means exile. Dovid wasn’t just opposing a single enemy of the Jewish people; he was confronting the entire concept of exile itself!] Just like Amalek is a kind of spiritual bacteria that grows in an insterile spiritual environment, so too is it with any Torah-enemy, who wields an Amalekian point-of-view. Anyone lacking the proper da’as to counteract such negative da’as has to physically confront the enemy, and then it becomes a question of physical prowess.
However, Dovid HaMelech had been a conduit for Da’as Elokim. He was connected to the Nun Sha’arei Binah, and could draw down such da’as at will. This was the source of his boldness and his humility, as it was for Moshe Rabbeinu before him. This was also the source of the continuity of his Malchus. Therefore, is it any wonder that:
|rimah (reish, mem heh)||=||245|
|=||2 + 4 + 5|
... Where eleven is the number that represents da’as, as if to say, Da’as Elokim is the true source of exaltedness; that which transforms rimah, not just into ramah, but into keren, whose gematria happens to equal the word siechel (350), the part of the human mind through which da’as works!
This is why the distance from Har Sinai to Kadesh Barnea at the border of Eretz Yisroel—the Land of Da’as—was only eleven days [Miraculously, they had traveled it in three days (Rashi).]:
Eleven days it was from Chorev (Har Sinai) by way of Har Seir to Kadesh Barnea. (Devarim 1:2)It had only been their transgressions (eleven in total [In fact, according to Rashi (Bereishis 7:17), Noach’s ark sat eleven amos in the waters, perhaps alluding to what had caused the Flood in the first place—a lack of da’as Elokim. In fact, the Zohar says that the waters were fifteen amos above the mountains to indicate that the letters yud-heh of Elokim were abused by that generation, leaving behind the letters, aleph, lamed, mem, which spells the word e-laim, which means deaf and dumb.]), and eventually, the evil report of the spies, that had caused them to take a circuitous route around Har Seir, over an additional thirty-nine years. This is evidence that, whatever they had achieved at Har Sinai as far as becoming receptacles for Da’as Elokim, the process had not been completed.
This is why the nation spent a total of forty years in the desert. Mercifully, God had only punished them one year for every day the spies had been away. [BaMidbar 13:25; this was to make sure that any male who had been at least twenty (see Section One, Chapter Five) years old at the time would die out before entering the Land.] However, as we know from Har Sinai, forty is number associated with the reception of Torah, and the “gestation” of Torah. This is alluded to in the brocha given to Yehudah by Ya’akov prior to his death:
... His eyes are red from wine, and the whiteness of his teeth with milk (chalav) ... (Bereishis 49:12)The midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 99:15) explains that Ya’akov’s blessing, aside from referring to an abundance of wine and milk to be found in Yehuda’s territory, also alluded to the great talmidei chachomim who would descend from his tribe, many of which would become part of the Sanhedrin (which are called the “eyes” of the community). They would become increasingly knowledgeable in Torah, which, as we know well, is compared to wine; they would reiterate halachos so many times until they would become perfectly lucid, leaving their mouths pure like milk!
The gematria of chalav (milk) is forty.
And, as to be expected, Eretz Yisroel is land “flowing with milk and honey,” physically and spiritually. Even honey alludes to the sweetness of Torah:
Sweetness drops from your lips, O bride; honey and milk are under your tongue ... (Shir HaShirim 4:11)It is the sod of Torah that is sweetest; it is the deep, mystical explanation of each mitzvah that “pulls the heart” and bonds us with God:Sweetness drops from your lips, O bride ... in discoursing upon Torah (Rashi) ... honey and milk are under your tongue ... This refers to the secrets of Torah (Divrei Yehuda)
What is the literal meaning of the above possuk (“the whiteness of his teeth with milk”)? When Rav Dimi came he said: K’nesses Yisroel pleaded before The Holy One, Blessed is He, “Master of the Universe! Call to me with Your eyes which are sweeter than wine, and show me Your teeth which are sweeter than milk.” (Kesuvos 111b)It is this that enhances the simcha shel mitzvah, and which keeps Klal Yisroel safe from the evil da’as of Amalek and his followers.
This is alluded to also by the eleven spices used to make up the Incense-Offering used in the Temple. As Rashi points out, the word ketores (incense) can, through gematria, equal the number 613 (“taryag”), the total numbers of mitzvos of the Torah (Rashi, BaMidbar 7:20).
There was something else that was unique about the Incense-Offering:
Soon after this, every one of them [the Angels] became so friendly with Moshe, that each disclosed to him some useful secrets ... Even the Angel of Death revealed something to him, as it says, “He [Aharon] put out the incense and atoned for the people ... and he stood between the dead and the living.” (BaMidbar 7:13). (Shabbos 89a)As Moshe learned on Har Sinai, just after he justified the Torah being given to man and not retained by the angels, there is a way to counteract the Angel of Death. With the help of the Ketores, the hand of the Angel of Death can be held in check.
Sometimes. After all, wasn’t it the Incense-Offering that cost Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon HaKohen, their lives?
Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, each took his pan and put fire in it, and then incense, and offered a strange fire before God which He had not commanded. A fire went out from before God, and devoured them; they died before God. (VaYikrah 10:1)On the eigth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, and at the climax of three months worth of holy work; at the supreme moment that God allowed His presence to dwell on the work of man, Nadav and Avihu undid everything. They transgressed the word of God, and invoked Divine retribution.
Never before in the history of man did a nation plummet so far so fast, from the heights of Divine joy to the depths of human mourning; and the Ketores played a major role in the entire episode. What did this mean?
This meant that there is positive da’as, and there is negative da’as. Negative da’as destroys, and “pushes” away the Presence of God; it is Amalekian in nature. It reduces the Supernal Light of creation, which was hidden by God early in creation to protect it from such abuse.
This is reflected on the level of gematria as well. The third possuk of creation says:
And God said, “Let there be light! (Ye'hi or)” and there was light. (Bereishis 1:3)The word yehi means “let there be,” but in gematria, it is equal to twenty-five. Hence, the verse can be read: Twenty-five is the light.
Until this point, twenty-five was a number associated with the Shema, since it has twenty-five letters. However, since the Supernal Light and the Shema both embody the purpose of creation, one would expect such a correlation to exist between the two.
This is why, very often, when a prophet came to warn the Jewish people about straying from the Torah, he began with the words, Koh amar Hashem—So says God ... However, according to this meaning, the introductory word koh was also an allusion to both to the Original Light of creation and the Shema, both of which defined the purpose of the Jewish people.
In fact, when God instructed Moshe to speak to Paroah, He began with the words (Shemos 14:22), “Koh amar Hashem.” Had it been an early allusion to things to come? Was it as if to say, “This is not just any redemption taking place; this is the redemption, the one that fulfills the purpose of creation, and which will define the basis of what it means to be part of the Jewish people!”
This is why the construction of the Mishkan was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, and why the miracle of Chanukah occurred on the very same day, albeit over one thousand years later. Twenty-five is a number that alludes to the Supernal, Hidden Light of creation.
However, when positive da’as, that is, eleven is added to this, it yields the number thirty-six, the number of tractates in the Talmud Bavli, the number of candles kindled over the week of Chanukah, etc. [See Section One, Chapter Six, for other significant thirty-sixes.] —the number of hours for which the Supernal Light shone before being hidden from the evil people of history. The number thirty-six, therefore, alludes to the revelation of this awesome Light, especially when it occurs as the result of the actions of man.
On the other hand, when negative da’as (i.e., the absence of da’as) enters the picture, the brilliance of the Supernal Light is greatly reduced. When eleven is taken away from twenty-five, it yields the value fourteen, and as we will now see, fourteen alludes to the absence of Divine Light.
God said to him [Ya’akov], “I am El Shaddai...” (Bereishis 35:11)As we know from Tradition, different names of God alluded to different aspects of His interaction with creation. The Talmud wanted to know, what does the Name Shaddai allude to? The answer, one which is well known to Kabballah, is implied by the literal meaning of the word itself: that it is enough.I am He who said to the world, “Enough (Dai)!” (Chagigah 12a)
What was enough?
On a simple level, God said “enough” to the process of creation which, up until that time, had been unfolding according to His will. However, what this means on a more esoteric level is that, God prevented the Supernal Light of creation from emanating “down” to the lowest depths of creation. At what point did it stop? Fourteen levels above the “lowest” point of existence, (Leshem Shevo V’Achlamah, Kadosh, Section Six, Chapters Ten and Eleven) which, as a result, became the repository, so-to-speak, of all the negative potential within creation.
How fitting is it in then that the Jewish nation left Mitzrayim b’yad ramah! For, the word dai is also the word yad, in reverse. And if the mispar katan of the word ramah is eleven, and alludes to positive da’as, then combined the two values produce the number twenty-five, and an reference to the Primordial Light of creation which shone with brilliance that Seder Night as the Jewish people prepared themselves to break loose from Egyptian bondage.
This is why God, after Adam implicated himself, asked, “Aiyeka?” Literally, the words mean, “Where are you?” but according to this, it can also mean,
“Where is twenty-five? Where is the positive da’as of twenty-five, of the Fifty Gates of Understanding, of Da’as Elokim? Didn’t you believe Me when I told you that without it you would die? Look at yourself! You’re hiding. You’re on the run. You feel like a worm, rather than the Tzelem-Elokim you were created to be! You call this ramah? This is rimah!On the other hand, Pinchas, at least personally, rectified this, just as Avraham had done before him through Bris Milah, which had been commanded of him by El Shaddai. This is why he is embedded in the concept of continuity. Unlike any other acccount in the Torah, his spans parshios. The parsha named after him contains allusions to continuity, such as the idea of inheritance (brought out by the daughters of Tzelofchad, within whose parsha there is an oversized “nun” when discussing their claim to Eretz Yisroel, (at the end of the word “mishpatan” in BaMidbar 27:5. As mentioned before, the letter nun represents the number 50) descendants of Yosef (of whom it is also said that he valued Eretz Yisroel (BaMidbar 27:1, Rashi) )), and the laws concerning the holiday-cycle, which is rooted in the idea of eternity and continuity. And, of course, Pinchas himself overcame his own mortality, becoming Eliyahu HaNavi in the process.
It is such continuity that is the undercurrent of the Jewish nation. Many have tried to understand the basis of Jewish longevity, but few have been able to articulate. Almost everyone who ever looked and studied Jewish history recognized something unique about Jewish survival, which has been against all of the odds in every generation, but few have been able to grasp the essence of this uniqueness.
But this is it. To be part of the Jewish people is to possess the latent spiritual ability to reach beyond the physical world, beyond the world of the physical eye, into a world beyond our world. To be Jewish is to have two feet firmly planted on terra firma, but, more importantly, to have our minds firmly planted in the firmaments, on the level of the Nun Sha’arei Binah.
That is the true source of true Jewish pride. That is the true key to Jewish survival, especially against the negative and annihilating forces of Amalek and his philosophy.
Purim, a holiday iniatated late in Jewish history, has roots in the origins of the creation of all existence. Spiritually “wounded” from the effects of Amalek in this world, Purim came along to act as way to catch the Jewish eye, not the physical eye, the mind’s eye of Jewish consciousness. If the da’as of Purim is allowed to properly affect the Jew, then the process of preparation to receive the da’as of Seder Night will have begun—that day! This is why:
In Nissan they were redeemed, and in Nissan they will be redeemed. (Rosh Hashanah 11a)For, in Nissan, on the fifteenth day of the month, the holy light of the Nun Sha’arei Binah will come down. All we have to remember is:
There shall be no strange god within you, nor shall you bow down to any foreign god. I am God, your God, who elevated you from the land of Egypt; open wide your mouth and I will fill it ... (Tehillim 81:10)This is real freedom. It is the freedom of the mouth, the freedom of the mind, and the freedom of the soul. And more importantly, it is the catalyst that will end thousands of year of exile, making this world kulo kadosh l’Hashem—completely holy to God. Then it will truly be able to be said about all of us:
Happy is the one with whose words G-d agrees. (Sifri Pinchas, 3)And,
On that day, God will be One, and His Name will be One.Amen. May it happen in our time.