This article was previously published in 2020.
Through the portion of Shemot, we can begin to awaken the part of our soul that is needed to bring the Final Redemption; letter number 27 in Beloved of My Soul has within it a specific point that Rav Brandwein teaches my father, Rav Berg, about this important understanding.
“What does it mean to love another as we love ourselves?”
Moses, we know, wanted to bring an end to all suffering and death in this world, doing whatever he could to assist the Israelites while they were in the pain of slavery in Egypt. But, why, then, Rav Brandwein asks, did Moses say no when the Creator tells him he will be the one to bring such an end to all the pain and suffering? An argument between Moses and the Creator ensued for a week, within which Moses not only didn’t jump on the opportunity, but also kept pushing back. So, how do we understand this?
Moses cared for the Israelites, but not in the way most of us care. For us, we see somebody in pain and say, “I’ll help them today, even though tomorrow they may be in pain again;” we are fine with that. But Moses was not. Moses was on a completely different level. He didn’t want to be part of anything that wasn’t eternal; for Moses, whatever he did had to be part of the Final Redemption. Imagine how different that consciousness is from where most of us are. Most of us are happy if we are able to solve one problem for somebody. But Moses, every moment of his life, made sure that anything he touched be part of the eternal removal of pain, suffering and death.
“There has to be a new level of love.”
So, with that, we can understand why Moses was pushing back the Light; pushing the Light is what creates a greater vessel! If Moses had accepted the Creator’s giving him the ability to bring Redemption to the Israelites in Egypt at that point, he would have been very limited in what he could do to help. While even though most of us would be happy with that, Moses was not. Moses pushed the Light, saying, “I want more. I want the power to do more!” The whole week of back and forth between Moses and the Creator, therefore, was not actually an argument where Moses is saying, “I don't want to do it, I'm not sure I can do it,” but rather, it was Moses awakening a greater vessel, pushing the Light to reveal even more.
The Creator then said to Moses that the only way to awaken the Redemption is through "Loving your neighbor as yourself." And, in order for that to happen, the Creator told Moses to take Aaron - who is Right Column energy, the energy of Mercy - with him, and together they will impress onto the Israelites this concept, this understanding, of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That's the work that Moses and Aaron began: going to the Israelites, and as Rav Brandwein says, forcing into them this awakening of love.
For the Redemption to occur, there has to be a new level of love; that is the secret Rav Brandwein tells Rav Berg, and that the Creator was telling Moses then, and us now. But why is this? Why does there have to be a new level of love? The Midrash asks how, if the Israelites were in what’s called the 49th gate of negativity, did they merit the Final Redemption? What is it that enabled the Israelites to be redeemed, even though they were on that low level?
Here is the answer, and a beautiful teaching. What enabled the redemption out of Egypt was the Creator’s looking into the part of the soul of the Israelites, the part that is within every individual, that never gets damaged, even by the negative actions an individual does. And because the Creator focused not on the person who was on the 49th level of negativity, but rather on the part of that person’s soul that never gets damaged, the perfected part that every single one of us has, the Redemption could come. So, the kabbalists teach us the reason the Israelites merited the redemption out of Egypt was because the Creator looked at the part within all of them that is perfect.
But, more importantly for us, how can we awaken that for ourselves? The answer, I believe, is very simple. We know that the way a person behaves, so the Light of the Creator behaves with him, and as we behave towards others, so the Light of the Creator behaves towards us. This means that if we are a person who finds the spark of goodness within somebody when we see them do something negative, then the Creator will look at us, and no matter what we do, will also focus only on the spark of goodness within us.
There are two ways to achieve the Redemption: either get everybody to be perfect, which is never going to happen, or get to the place where the Creator focuses only on the part of us that is perfect. How is that done? By telling the Israelites, and us, to awaken love, which means that when we see somebody who has done terrible things, we say, “I don't care about all these terrible things this person has done. I'm focused only on their goodness.”
What does it mean, then, to love another as we love ourselves? To forget about all the negative things that he or she has done, and focus only on that perfect soul and goodness within them. The Israelites merited for the Light to only be focused on their goodness because they were focused on others’ goodness. That's the secret of why Rav Brandwein tells Rav Berg, and the Creator told Moses and Aaron, we all have to go and awaken “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Final Redemption will come when the Creator focuses only on the spark of goodness within enough people. How does that happen? When enough of us are also only focused on that spark of goodness inside everyone else.