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The portion of Va’era begins with one of the most dramatic and famous events in the Torah – the journey of the Israelites leaving from Egypt, known as Exodus. Many movies were created about this story and specifically around the great phenomenon of the ten plagues.
My teacher, Rav Berg, would always ask, “What is the connection between a story that happened a few thousand years ago and my life? How does it relate to me today?”
The Zohar reveals that Egypt represents a force in our life that limits us from achieving our greater potential. We often feel, deep down, that there is something great inside of us, a great potential, that has not yet been revealed. We know there is so much more we can do to go beyond where we are right now. Unfortunately, there is a force that pulls us back. It could be self-doubt, fear, anger, the need to control, jealousy, complacency or any other limiting, negative force. We feel trapped in a cage. This is “Egypt”.
In the portion of Va’era, we begin the process of breaking out of this invisible cage. The first time the Light of the Creator assisted mankind in the process of releasing itself from this cage was back in ancient Egypt. The Creator has revealed himself every year since then to assist us in this process.
How many of us feel that there are areas in our lives where we feel like we’re in “Egypt”? It could be a relationship that is ‘stuck’ and we don’t know how to go forward, or being in a job that doesn’t fully satisfy us, or a business that we just opened but isn’t really working.
There is a key in this week’s Zohar portion that can assist us before we start the ‘journey of Exodus’:
“When Yisrael left Egypt, they did not know the Holy One, blessed be He. When Moses came to them, he taught them this first precept, as written:
“And you shall know that I am Hashem your Elohim, who brings you out…” Were it not for this commandment, Yisrael would not be faithful TO HASHEM, EVEN AFTER all these miracles and mighty acts that THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, performed for them in Egypt. After they knew this commandment in general, miracles and mighty deeds were performed for them, FOR THEY WERE ALREADY CERTAIN THAT THEY WOULD BELIEVE IN HASHEM THROUGH THEM, AS IS WRITTEN: “AND YISRAEL SAW…AND BELIEVED IN HASHEM, AND IN MOSES HIS SERVANT”
-- The Zohar, Va’era, 57
The first thing Moses taught the Israelites before they left Egypt is to know that the Creator himself is the one that takes them out of Egypt.
When we go through moments of difficulty (or ‘Egypt’) in our life, how many of us think that a solution or direction will come directly through the Light Force of the Creator? How many of us know that?
The usual tendency is to think, “I will figure out a solution.” Yes, we do need to make a plan, look for solutions, ask for help, and try different possible ways of working our issues out.
What the Zohar is telling us is that before we look for ways out, make a plan, ask for help, or even use spiritual tools (like the Zohar, 72 Names), we must know that the one that will allow the transformation and create the breakthrough in the situation is the Light Force of the Creator.
If we apply this knowledge to our life, repeating it to ourselves again and again, it can change the whole way we experience our ‘Egypt’ moments. When we face a moment of difficulty, darkness, confusion, or lack of direction, we should say to ourselves, “I know that the only one that will transform this situation and create a breakthrough is the Light Force of the Creator. Without the Light, I will be limited in creating a real breakthrough, no matter how perfect my plans and ideas may be.”
Once we internalize it and know it, the Zohar promises that miracles and mighty deeds were performed for them.
Rav Berg used to repeat it again and again: Only through the assistance of the Light can we transform the impossible to possible. The Rav says that ‘believing’ involves doubt, but ‘knowing’ is certainty without a shadow of a doubt.
With the Light of this week’s portion we should ask for the strength and merit to own this concept and make it part of our being, thereby attracting amazing miracles and blessings into our lives.