Eventually, the goodness and blessing that God had intended for Adam and his descendants would at last find its way to humanity through Abraham and his descendants.
From the seed of Abraham grew the family and then the people of Israel. This people soon found itself enslaved in a very, very dark place—a place called Egypt.
In Hebrew, the word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “tight, restricted, and closed in.”
On the one hand, this restrictive aspect of Egypt refers to the fact that it was impossible for prisoners and slaves to escape its borders. On a deeper level, however, Egypt was a spiritual black hole, a place from which nothing could escape, not even light itself.
Abraham had bequeathed the potential for “light” to his descendants, but now Egypt was threatening to smother it. Only with the appearance of Moses, and then the giving of the Torah, would the “light’s” potential revelation be assured.
The transformation of Moses from a prince in the house of Pharoah to the savior of the Jewish people is captured by two verses in the Torah.
“And Moses grew up and went out to his brothers and saw their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating one of his Jewish brothers. And he turned here and there (koh v’koh) and he saw that there was no man, so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”
There it is again. That same strange word, koh, and that same number, twenty-five. Moses is to be the one who will lead the Jewish people out of the place of restricted light, and how does his career begin? With a turn to koh, a turn toward the “light.”
“When Moses was born, the entire house became filled with light.”
Moses, like Abraham, was a man of “light,” and eventually he would lead the Jewish people to a “light” of their own.
“With the hidden light, God nourishes the world.”
“For the commandment is a candle, and the Torah is light.”
“The light created on the first day was hidden in the Torah itself.”
Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chassidism
Could it be that the Torah itself is the repository for the original hidden “light” of creation? Could it be that the “light” hidden by God, the “light” that Adam failed to reveal—the “light” of connection between God and man—is now hidden in the Torah? Consider what happened to Moses after his encounter on Mount Sinai.
“When Moses descended from Mount Sinai—and in the hand of Moses were the two tablets of testimony when he descended from the mountain—Moses did not realize that the skin of his face had become radiant from speaking to Him.”
With the experience of receiving the Torah from God Himself, Moses became, quite literally, a radiant light.
It seems that while the “light” may be hidden, it is far from lost. In fact, the same vessel that contains the hidden “light” is the vehicle for its revelation.
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Shimon Apisdorf is an award-winning author whose books have been read by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He has gained a world-wide reputation for his ability to extract the essence of classical Jewish wisdom and show how it can be relevant to issues facing the mind, heart and soul in today’s world. Shimon grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and studied at the University of Cincinnati, Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland and the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He currently resides with his wife, Miriam, and their children in Baltimore. The Apisdorfs enjoy taking long walks, listening to the music of Sam Glaser and going to Orioles games.
Shimon can be reached at [email protected]
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