Shemot: Chapter 14

"The burden of Egypt"


On their way to Tzipori, Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Aba, and Rabbi Yosi encounter a Jew who quotes the title verse and then asks them why God Himself came into Egypt, rather than simply exercising His will from above. The reason, we are told, is that God came for the sake of the Shechinah, to raise Her up, as He would do when the Roman captivity of the children of Yisrael ended. God did not go to the Shechinah during Her exile with the children of Yisrael in Babylon because of their sins. In Egypt, however, they remained pure. Whosoever holds the children of Yisrael captive becomes accountable to God, and He punishes their supernal representatives and those who worship them below. God punished Egypt severely, in spite of the relatively good treatment given to the children of Yisrael at first. We may therefore conclude that all the nations who have oppressed the children of Yisrael will receive punishment, including Rome and Assyria - the nation that "oppressed them without cause" and stole their land.


In truth, we are ill-equipped to triumph over the dark and self-centered tendencies that dominate our desires. We do not have the power or discipline to confront and conquer our Evil Inclination. Then again, we are not expected to.

Rather, the Kabbalists teach us that the ultimate purpose of life is to evolve an awareness and, consequently, a deep hatred toward our errant and self-indulgent ways. When our realization and revulsion is far greater than our love for selfishpleasure, then God himself will enter our hearts and our very being to destroy every trace of negativity and selfishness that taints our soul.

Accountability and recognition of one's own faults is perhaps the most difficult attribute a person can evolve. Our natural tendency is to block out any consciousness of our immoral qualities. We find it easier to consider ourselves blameless victims. This distorted view is not our conscious intent, for our blindness is real. Nonetheless, disposing of the blinders is the point of our existence. We achieve that here and now, as we peruse these powerful verses.

The Light of the Creator enters our very being to destroy Egypt (our ego), freeing us forever from the limitations and pain caused by a vain and selfish existence.