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by Daneal Weiner
<center> From the Orchards of Jerusalem </center>
Last week we touched upon the 7-3 split and I'm not talking Bnei Brith bowling League. With the 10 utterances G-d used to create the world He also created 10 s'firos, or heavens which envelope our world, 7 of them are prominent aspects of this world whereas the other three are more veiled and will become unveiled in the time of the Mashiach. We can see this idea manifest in many ways. To just mention a couple, when we count the Omer, we count 7 days for 7 weeks. Each day and week is labeled with one of the 7 S'firos. The 7 Ushpizin, guests we invite into the Sukkah parallel these 7 S'firos. The 7 seem to be front stage and center while the 3 are active behind the scenes.
They are also referred to as the (7) lower s'firos and the (3) upper s'firos. All these are Kabbalistic ideas and although we can't begin to understand the depths of them, having them manifest around us let's us see the tip of the iceberg. And as anyone on the Titanic would have told you, that's do it. Besides, it's been a long since I've spoken with Madonna. My Kabbalah is a little rusty.
Hey! What better (safer) place to talk about Madonna then amidst the pummeling of the tuma of Egypt?! I wasn't planning this but the opportunity suddenly presents itself. (My mother is saying right now, "No it hasn't!") For those who don't know there is a 'kabbalah' circus in California running out of a converted chapel! [That says it all right there! In fact, there have been reports of the Ringmaster, Phillip Berg, being overheard in the shower singing, "Get me to the church on tiiiiiime."] A short while back I'd seen a few different articles on it and it's seemed to have grown into a circus of the stars! These articles pictured different Hollywood personalities who offered a few words on this new found religion. Roseanne Barr said kabbalah is like quantum physics, only you get it. Thatís kind of like walking into the finest restaurant, throwing five dollars on the table and ordering, "Waiter, bring me your finest bottle of imported wine!" The waiter returns with a bottle of Canada Dry seltzer and says, "Its like a Baron de Rothschild 1926- only you get it."
Sandra Bernhard says kabbalah shows we here for a purpose. I'm glad that was finally cleared up! All kidding aside, it can at least be said that these people have been moved by something. Not knowing any better, they may finally recognize something exists outside of themselves, other than their agent. We must give whatever credit is due. What was Modanna's feelings on the matter? The kabbalah circus is the only place "I'm treated like a normal person." Me, myself, I. The material girl is still as still as material as ever. I'd say I digressed but it would be an understatement.
Let's see...7-3 split...Bnei Brith...s'firos/heavens...upper, lower...ah, yes! Last week we also connected the 10 plagues with the reparation of these 10 s'firos/heavens. The corruption Egypt brought to the world defiled these heavens. Every plague against Egypt was a purification for the world. Following the aforementioned pattern, the Torah makes a 7-3 split of the plagues. 7 in last weeks parsha and three in this weeks
><><><><><> Parshas Bo. <><><><><><
There is something loftier about these three plagues that separates them from the other plagues. Speaking of lofty, Rav Wolfson has some remarkable questions and answers, a little less 'down-to-earth' than previous weeks. The reason I enjoy learning and sharing this type of Torah, even though hardly understanding it's content, is because Rav Wolfson makes one thing perfectly clear. The unity of the Torah. Rav Wolfson can take lines, single threads out of the Written Torah and the Oral traditions, in all their various thicknessí and colors, and weave them so beautifully into one magnificent work. This is the most elegant way I can say, "I don't know what I'm talking about but I'm going to talk about it anyway.' I hope you enjoy it as much as I.
Which plague would you say was the grand finale'? So great that it weighs equally to all the other plagues? Chances are most would answer #10, the killing of the first born. Then the question is why by the plague of hail, #7, does G-d say, (9:14) "For this time I will send all my plagues against your heart..."? Kind of anti-climactic to give the big whammy three from the end? To clears things up we turn to Rashi, who confuses us even more,. On this verse Rashi says, "We learn from here that the plague of the killing of the first born was equivalent to all of them." G-d just said this one was?!? How'd Rashi get from #7 to #10 anyway? Hold that thought.
The parsha opens with the words, "And G-d said to Moshe, 'Bo el Pharaoh'"- come to Pharaoh. Chazal, ask about the unusual use of the word 'bo'- come. Unless G-d was standing, so to speak, behind Pharaoh's throne, the more appropriate expression would be 'go' to Pharaoh. The Zohar seems to say G-d is not just telling Moshe to physically approach Pharaoh but to enter the innermost chambers of Pharaoh's psyche. Get in there and wake him up. Shake him up. The language of the Zohar is, "Hashem brought him in, room within room, since Moshe feared to go." If this is where Moshe is going, deep into Pharaoh's id, that would be a place where only Hashem would be. Now it makes sense for Hashem to say, "Bo." "Come" From the words of the Zohar, we still can ask what did Moshe fear? And this 8th plague of Arbeh, locust is the only one Moshe called on his own?! How did he know?
To understand the Arbeh, we have to go back to #7, Barad, the hail. The Barad was not alone. (9:23) "Moshe stretched out his staff towards heaven and Hashem sent thunder and hail..." (9:27-28) "Pharaoh sent and summoned Moshe and Aharon and said, 'This time I have sinned, Hashem is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones. Entreat Hashem- there has been an overabundance of G-dly thunder and hail...'" Seems that thunder played a major role as well.
There is a Gemorah Brachos, "The reason for the creation of thunder is to straighten out the crookedness of the heart. [Where is this learned from?] For it says, (Koheles 3:14) "G-d has acted so that [man] should stand in fear of Him." So part of the clean-up job of the Barad was it's accompanying thunder. This plague, #7, was to clean up the s'firah of Malchus- sovereignty. This is the s'firah of Shabbos. Shabbos is a testimony to the belief in G-d. 'Ose he l'olam ki shaishes yamim asah Hashem es hashamayim v'es ha'arets u'v'yom hashvee shavas'- it is forever a sign that in 6 days Hashem made heaven and earth and on the seventh day he rested. Shabbos is definitely tied into the fear of G-d.
There is a pattern forming here. A common thread. From a vague verse in Koheles about fear, Chazal taught that the fear refers to the thunder but is a fear of G-d. And fear is also the idea behind the 7th s'firah, Malchus which the hail came to cleanse and it's also the s'firah paralleling Shabbos And, a new stitch, the Zohar says the letters of Breishis can be rearranged to spell 'yirah Shabbos'- fear Shabbos. The pattern doesn't end there because, if you recall the words of the Zohar regarding the word 'bo' it said that Moshe 'feared to go'. The first impression was a fear i.e.: fright, but now it seems to have meant a fear of G-d. This connection from Barad to Bo/Arbeh also sheds a new light on the three times the Torah says the Arbeh came to finish up what was left over by the Barad (Verses 10:5,12,15). Maybe there was more to be finished up than the produce!?
Rav Wolfson says that as the Barad fell to the ground and battered the tuma it exposed more and more, the fear of Hashem in all mankind. In fact, just the mere mention of the words already began to do the job! The Torah told us that Moshe warned the Egyptians to bring their servants and cattle under shelter as not to be killed by the Barad. (9:20) Those who feared the word of Hashem listened and whoever did not take the word of Hashem to heart-TO HEART- left them in the fields. I emphasized Ďto heartí because I remembered the words Moshe told Pharaoh, what Hashem said about this plague, "For this time I will send all my plagues against your heart..." This plague had the potential to instill in all mankind the fear of G-d!!!
At the end of davening, after the prayer Alainu, we say the paragraph Al kain which describes what will be in the days to come, in the time of the Mashiach. "Then all humanity will call upon Your Name...they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of Your Kingship that You may reign over them." This plague, the 7th plague, could have brought the entire world to that point!!! The Tikun Olam- world reparation!!! If the Barad fell it's full measure, that would have been it! We see the impact it had on Pharaoh himself. "This time I have sinned, Hashem is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones." So what happened? What happened was the end of this quote which I have above. Pharaoh asked Moshe to pray for it to stop! G-d told Moshe to treat Pharaoh with the respect deserving of a king so when the king asked for it to stop, Moshe went out to pray for it to stop.
Rav Wolfson explains how Rashi understood that if this plague had the potential to be the final plague, and on it G-d said, "For this time I will send all my plagues..." then on the one that did became the last plague did it also carry the weight of all the plagues. But it wasn't a plague of fear. The killing of the first born wasn't a reparation for Malchus. So even carried out to it's fullest, it wasn't going to bring the world reparation that the Barad would have.
As far as Moshe calling on the Locust himself, with the Barad cut short, Moshe knew what was to come next. There is a link between the 7th and 8th plague. We have three meals on Shabbos. Chazal attribute each to one of the Temples. Friday night and Saturday morning to the 2 temples which have been destroyed and Shalish Seudos to the one that is yet to come. So even though Shabbos itself, the 7th day, represents the nature of our world, it contains within a little of what is beyond present nature. The building of the third temple which will be in the time of the Mashiach. This will also be when we turn our swords into plow shears. When the lion no longer preys on the sheep. You get the picture. I donít know why Arbeh exactly but Moshe knew it was an extension of the Barad and didnít need Hashem to tell him. Rav Wolfson notes that the name of the parsha, Bo, is spelled Bais, Aleph which stands for Barad, Arbeh.
Another point of interest is that again after the locust, Pharaoh begs of Moshe, "I have sinned to Hashem.." A similar language to that he used after the hail. So if he did have such a repentant attitude, how did he harden his heart? Rav Wolfson says that as soon as the heavenly influence was gone, so was the remorse. There is a Gemorah which says everything we get is from heaven accept for fear of heaven. But didn't the fear just pour from heaven? So maybe it's was up to the individual to assimilate it into themselves. To internalize it. Those who didn't, like Pharaoh, did not end up with a lasting impression. Something that popped into my head is an analogy to downloading a program. The computer could be downloading a day and a half, but if you only end up with 99% of the program, you end up with nothing. Maybe that's what Pharaoh 'accomplished' by stopping the plagues short.
It's also interesting to note that Bo also has the gematria 3, for the 3 plagues it brings. By the locust it says, (10:5) "It will cover the face of the earth so that no one will be able to see the earth. Seems a little redundant. One explanation is that the 'face of the earth' really means the sun. The number of locust will be so great that they will block the sun AND cover the land. A blocked sun means darkness. The next plague was darkness. And the last plague took place in darkness. Rav Wolfson explains this common thread is due to these three plagues being after the 7th, meaning they are all beyond nature. A big aspect of the days to come is the revealing of the Ohr Haganuz- the original light which Hashem created and hid for that time. These three plagues in darkness had to do with the reparation of the world to prepare for that light.
I gotta, tell you, right now I don't know if I've seen the tip of the iceberg or went down with the ship. It must be the editing and re-editing that's got my head spinnin' a bit. Baruch Hashem. I gave it a read through and it looks good. Of course, I wrote it. (That could be a problem.) Letís put aside the Barad and Arbeh and have a thunderously G-d fearing, Malchus cleansing, awe inspiring Shabbot Shalom.
I have nothing witty to put here but why waste a perfectly good option?
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