Shemot: Chapter 29

Wherefore exile, and wherefore to Egypt


Rabbi Elazar begins the discussion by asking his father why God allowed Yisrael to go into exile, and why into Egypt. After receiving encouragement from his father, he interprets the verse, "There are sixty queens, eighty concubines and young women without number." We then learn that God scattered all the nations across the earth and appointed supernal ministers over them, taking Yisrael as His portion. Indeed, God created the world for the sake of Yisrael and endowed it with permanence through Abraham (Wisdom), Isaac (Understanding) and Jacob (Knowledge). Once the twelve Tribes were born to Jacob, the supernal pattern was complete, as ordained from the beginning. If Yisrael assimilated with other nations, all the worlds would become tainted. Therefore, God caused Yisrael to wander the earth until they fell among the Egyptians, who made them slaves and despised them and their customs. Because the Egyptians hated them and would not mingle with them, they became perfected within the Holy Seed (without any mixture of foreign people) and the guilt of the other nations became complete.


The term Yisrael is a code for the human soul, the person who successfully nullifies the base impulses of his body in favor of the longings of his soul. The other nations of the world correspond to all our negative desires, borne of ego. Negative angelic forces govern and incite these negative urges, whereas the Light of the Creator inflames the Light of our soul.

Using the power of the Three Column System, the free will to resist selfishness, we can purify ourselves and gain freedom from our egocentric and self-indulgent inclinations, which are known in Kabbalistic terminology as Egypt.

Purification and true spiritual greatness is found when we go into the chaos of this world (Egypt), when we willingly confront our self-centeredness, and use the power of Kabbalah to eradicate every ounce of egotism from our being. We attain purification from the Light cast through these ancient verses. The perfection that has been our destiny since the birth of the cosmos is achieved through our interaction with the letters composing this passage.