Vayishlach: Chapter 22

"Who is this coming out of the wilderness?"


Smoke that rises from the fat dropping into the fire while Rabbi Yosi cooks, leads to a discussion and interpretation of the title quotation. Rabbi Yosi explains that when the children of Yisrael offered sacrifices, smoke rising straight up meant that the candle that had been lit was indeed worthy of being lit. However, once the Temple was destroyed, joy was replaced by rage in both the Upper and Lower Worlds, and the children of Yisrael went into exile under the dominion of other gods. As they traveled through the desert, the Shechinah went before them in a cloud of smoke. The Shechinah was attached to all three columns - that is, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the latter two being of one essence. The reason for the exile, we are told, is "you would not serve The Creator, your Elohim with joyfulness." Thus, the children of Yisrael shall suffer until God rises up to redeem them among the nations.


In a spiritual context, the notion of offering sacrifices for the purpose of "lighting the candle worthy of being lit," refers not to the sacrificial slaughter of animals, but to the sacrifice of ego in order to ignite the Light of the soul. The many sacrifices described in Scripture pertain to the various negative traits dwelling within the consciousness of man. Removing these traits is the basis of all spiritual work. Enlightened with this spiritual perspective, these verses help us sacrifice negative characteristics, allowing the Light of our souls to shine ever more brightly.