Shemot: Chapter 35

"Every man came with his household"


A discussion of the title verse elaborates on a concept mentioned in the previous section - that the Tribes descended into Egypt twice, once when alive and once when dead. According to Rabbi Elazar, when the children of Yisrael went into exile, all the souls of the tribes gathered at the cave of Machpelah. They cried to Jacob, lamenting that a heathen nation had enslaved Yisrael. This awakened the spirit of Jacob, and -- after gaining permission from God -- Jacob, the Tribes, the Shechinah and the supernal angels descended into Egypt. Thus, even in death Jacob did not separate from Yisrael.


This potent passage transports our soul to the Cave of Machpelah, where we connect to the souls of the Twelve Tribes and to the Patriarch Jacob. We summon as well the strength of Joseph and all the supernal angelic forces to initiate and complete our ascension out of our own personal Egypt - our ego or reactive nature, including all the chaotic darkness brought about by our self-centered impulses.