Chayei Sarah: Chapter 12

The serpent of the firmament


The stars of the Milky Way - called here 'the serpent of the firmament' - perform a special function in the lives of men, assisting both those who wish to be purified, and those who wish to defile themselves.

Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Yosi discuss the evil sorcerer, Bilaam the. From their discussion we learn that the primordial serpent is the source of all enchantment and magic. It is in sorcery that the seeds of defilement lie. Those who wish to cast spells draw to themselves the unholy spirit, just as anyone wishing to do good will draw the Light.


The stars that glint in the heavens are portals through which spiritual influences enter this material existence. The structure of electricity helps us understand their role, Electrical current can light entire cities. The same current, however, can also cause great destruction. The manner in which we employ the energy, determines its positive or destructive quality, but the nature of the energy never changes. Man was given free will to choose how to draw spiritual energy - via the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, or the Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing. This passage summons up forces that awaken us to the dual nature of our desires, impelling us to seek purification rather than defilement.