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Friday, January 19, 2018 3 Shevat 5778





LIVING WITH
THE TIMES

The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
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Beating the Exile Mindset
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Ten Plagues are divided in the Torah over two segments. Seven of them were described in last week’s Torah Portion, Vaera, and the final three are in this week’s portion.
 
The Ten Plagues were directed not just against the bodies and property of the Egyptian people, but also against their psyches. The human psyche consists of Ten Faculties (corresponding to and derived from the Ten Divine Attributes); three intellectual and seven emotional. Both the animal soul and the G-dly soul have their own set of ten attributes. The G-dly soul is governed by its intellect, which controls the emotions. In stark contrast, the Animal soul is primarily governed by its emotions, and uses its intellect as a means to serve its emotional end.
 
 
 
 
The Egyptian exile symbolizes the lowest manifestation of the animal soul’s emotional state. Their desire to enslave the Jews was born out of their hatred for the children of Israel. Once their negative emotions peaked, they used their superior intellectual prowess to find ways to suppress the Jewish people. “Let us outsmart [them],” said Pharaoh.
 
To counter the emotional evil of the Egyptians, G-d sent seven plagues, each directed at one of the seven character traits.
 
However, it would have been impossible to completely eradicate the Egyptian evil without also directly attacking its vicious mindset. That was the target of the last three plagues, recounted in this week’s portion.
 
The last of the three intellectual levels—and the one closest to the emotions—is Daas, the ability to attach oneself to an idea. The first of the final triad of plagues was locusts, which devoured the grain of Egypt. Chassidic literature connects knowledge with grain, based on the statement of our Sages: “A child does not know how to call his father until he eats grain.” Along with the physical destruction of the grain supply, the plague was also an assault on the Egyptians’ power of Daas.
 
The next plague was darkness which, in spiritual terms, can mean the absence of Bina, the faculty responsible for shedding light on a subject. After this plague struck, the Egyptians were no longer capable of developing a sophisticated intellectual model for evil.
 
The final plague, the death of the firstborns, alludes to Chochma, which is the “first born” intellectual power; the power to conceive of an idea. The literal death of the first-borns was paralleled by the destruction of the Egyptian mindset responsible for conceiving of the persecution of the Jewish people.
 
The lesson of the Plagues has much to teach us about the challenges we face today. We easily recognize our need to physically get out of exile and have Moshiach lead us to the construction of the Beis HaMikdash, but it is equally important that we strategize how to get out of our internal exile. To that end we must divide our “attack” and fight our battle on two fronts: the emotional and the intellectual.
 
 
 
 
The assault on our emotional attachment to exile can be mounted based on all of the negatives we still experience. When we witness the threats from those who would destroy the Jewish people or the Land of Israel, G-d forbid, we cry out “Ad Masai-How much longer?!” The more we feel the biting pain of exile, the more intolerable exile becomes, the more we can start struggling free of our internal exile.
 
However, we can only succeed in completely eradicating every trace of exile resistance when we also attack the intellectual impediments to Geula.
 
This is where the Rebbe’s directive to learn the subjects of Moshiach and Geula in the Torah enters the picture. To counter the negative intellectual underpinnings, the mindset of exile, we must reorient our minds to see things through the liberating prism of Torah.

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