These are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each man with his household . . . (Shemos 1:1)
And so began the Egyptian exile. It is hard to imagine that after 3500 years we are still in it, especially since we have not been in Egypt en masse for almost the same amount of time. But, as the Leshem teaches, the redemption from Egypt had not been complete; we lost 12,000,000 Jews in the Plague of Darkness, which eventually resulted in exile into Bavel 900 years later, the Greek exile, and finally, the Roman exile that we are still in.
As we said earlier, Egypt was a people, but Mitzrayim is a concept, and they just happened to overlap during Moshe Rabbeinu’s time. The people may have been destroyed in the Ten Plagues and at the Red Sea, but the concept lives on until Moshiach comes and ends its reign of darkness. For, Mitzrayim means meitzer (Mem-Tzaddi-Raish = constriction) yumm (Yud-Mem = 50), an allusion to the constriction of G-d’s light, often referred to as the Nun Sha’arei Binah (the FIFTY Gates of Understanding).
The Arizal explains that the ideal purpose for going down to Egypt in this week’s parshah, was to be a light unto nations. When Moshe Rabbeinu came back to redeem us 209 years later, we were dangling for our spiritual lives from the forty-ninth level of spiritual impurity. What he should have found instead was the Egyptian people thriving spiritually on the fiftieth level of holiness, made possible by the Jewish people’s return to Kesones Ohr (Clothing of Light), the state of Adam HaRishon before eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
So, instead of remaining in Egypt the full 400 years that G-d had spoken to Avraham about, a number that alludes to a complete period of gestation and development, G-d had to step into history and arrest a process that was spiraling downward in the wrong direction. The plagues not only began to destroy the spiritually impaired Egyptian nation, but also to begin some sort of healing process for the Jewish people. That in and of itself was unable to cure the vast majority of Klal Yisroel. The impact of the Egyptian lifestyle had been too great to peel back, even after eight supernatural plagues for four-fifths of the Jewish nation.
So, even with the introduction of redemption into our experiential vocabulary, we never really left exile. Even after leaving Egypt with an exalted hand and entering Eretz Yisroel with a strong one, we have never stopped wandering, at least intellectually. There has always been some element of crooked thinking that has infiltrated many Jews and that eventually spread to enough of the nation to warrant the destruction of two temples and countless exiles throughout the ages.
Indeed, the very night that Shlomo HaMelech completed the construction of the First Temple that was to be inhabited by the Divine Presence, he went and married the daughter of Pharaoh. Knowing so much and having accomplished so much spiritually, the wisest man felt the ability and blessing to do in his time what the Jewish nation was supposed to have done in Moshe’s time.
However, he failed. He tried to ascend to that which Ya’akov’s family descended, but instead he laid the groundwork for the destruction of the Second Temple, and before it was even built! And when Rebi Akiva and his colleagues (about 1000 years later) tried to do what Shlomo HaMelech could not do by entering the upper chambers of Pardes in the most elevated way possible, they too met with incomplete results, to say the least. And there has been no one of their stature since that time to end what Ya’akov and his sons began in this week’s parshah.
This is the bad news. The good news is that as time moves onward, it takes less from us to bring redemption. That is why Chizkiah’s small mistake of not singing shirah to G-d after his miraculous victory over Sancheriv did not result in Yemos HaMoshiach. His victory came early in history, during the fourth millennium, and therefore the demands upon man were far greater in terms of ushering in Yemos HaMoshiach earlier. We, on the other hand, live in the year 5765, fifteen years into the last quarter of the sixth and final millennium. Heaven is bringing the Final Redemption very fast, and you cannot believe what G-d is overlooking to do so.
G-d said to Hoshea, “Go take a wife of harlotry and [father] children of harlotry.” (Hoshea 1:2)
There are many anomalies Tanach, but this one ranks at the top of the list. Some say that it only took place in a prophetic vision, but the other opinion is the more likely of the two, is that G-d overrode the laws of Torah and actually commanded Hoshea to marry a gentile and father children from her, which he did.
According to the Talmud, Hoshea was even greater than his contemporaries, including Yeshayahu, Amos, and Michah. However, since his prophecies were fewer than theirs, they did not warrant a book of their own (Bava Basra 14b). Thus, it must have been extraordinarily difficult for Hoshea to complete this commandment which he did only BECAUSE of his loyalty to G-d.
Hoshea had become completely disenchanted with the people of his generation. They had strayed from Torah to such an extent that the only advice Hoshea had for his Creator was to abandon His own people and start anew with another nation. Apparently G-d did not take to that advice, and instead decided to teach Hoshea how to love his own people in spite of their spiritual failings, and thus commanded him to marry a woman of ill- repute.
Married and with two children, G-d told Hoshea to leave her:
The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Hoshea, “You should have learned from your teacher Moshe, for since I spoke to him he separated from the woman (Tzipporah); you should therefore separate from her.”
He said to Him, “Master of the Universe, I have two sons from her, and I cannot send her away or divorce her.”
The Holy One, Blessed is He, told him, “Your wife is a harlot and your children are from a harlot, and you don’t even know if they are from you or from others. Yet, Israel are My children, children of tested ones, children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, one of four things that I have acquired in My world: Torah is one acquisition . . . Heaven and earth are one acquisition . . . the Temple is one acquisition and Israel is one acquisition . . . and you are telling Me to pass them up for another nation?” (Pesachim 87b)
Strong rebuke for a great prophet and lover of the Jewish people whose patience for them was obviously far less than that of His Creator, and their Father. As an aside, Kabbalah adds another dimension that puts this incredible test into a different perspective:
It was the same with Hoshea the prophet who entered [into his test] on the command of G-d and therefore he came out in peace. This was regarding the harlot and her children, as it says in the Zohar (Pekudei 145a) . . . Since Israel in that generation went after the desires of this world they entered the courtyard of the side of impurity and approached the gate of death, the sixth gate of the Sitra Achra . . . Therefore, The Holy One, Blessed is He, commanded him to take a harlot and subdue her, which amounted to her giving birth to two sons and one daughter. These three children of the harlot were three k’lipos, 2 male and 1 female that included the Yesod and the Atarah, for they incorporate everything, and they were returned to the side of holiness through him . . . As a result, the sin of that generation was rectified through his overcoming of the k’lipos of desire; he returned the harlot that he had taken and her children to holiness. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 366)
This was something that could only have been orchestrated by G-d and carried out through a righteous and loyal prophet who would not have dreamed of doing such a thing on his own. On the other hand, what it must have looked like to the people of Hoshea’s generation, and what they must have thought about him, is another amazing example of how history is not always what it seems to be on the surface, and more importantly, how everything is ultimately for the good of Israel.
We need to hear this especially in our generation as we are living smack dab at the end of the period of Yesod and, perhaps, about to enter the period of time that corresponds to Atarah – and Yemos HaMoshiach. Like most of the prophets of Tanach, they lived in our past but spoke about our future.
G-d, your G-d will then end your captivity and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations to which G-d sent and scattered you. (Devarim 30:3)
Speaking of Hoshea, there is this to add:
Rebi Yochanan said, “The ingathering of the exiles will be as great an event as the creation of Heaven and earth, as it says, ‘Then shall the children of Yehudah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they shall go up to the land, for great will be the day (YOM) of Yizra-el’ (Hoshea 2:2). And, it is written, ‘And there was evening and there was morning, one day (YOM)’ (Bereishis 1:5). (Pesachim 88a)
The Talmud will often make a statement that may or may not be obvious to us, and then instead of backing it up with a logic that we can all relate to, it will draw a correlation between two verses that, more than likely, we would never have brought together.
There is no question that the final ingathering of the Jewish exiles back to Eretz Yisroel will be a great day in the annals of world history. And, it will take a great miracle too, because a lot of us today, in spite of the fact that we CAN come home on our own, do not WANT to come home and even break out into hives when we consider the possibility. We’re not talking about obligation at this point, just an innate desire to live and walk in the land that G-d promised us and that our ancestors never wanted to leave.
But will this be as great as the creation of Heaven and earth? Even I have to admit that it seems to be stretching the point a bit. After all, without Heaven and earth there is nothing to ingather and nowhere to ingather them to. But, without Kibbutz Golios, we at least still have the world. There may still be a lot of Jews in exile perhaps, but the world will still exist nonetheless. Therefore, does logic support this gazeirah shava – the equating of two similar words, or are we meant to take Rebi Yochanan’s statement on faith alone?
No, Rebi Yochanan is teaching us something here. He is telling us that, in spite of how we view the importance of the ingathering of the Jewish exiles, G-d sees it as primary as the creation of Heaven and earth. And, that is why once the greatest of our people, some of whom came up from Bavel, thought and acted in the following manner:
When Rav Zeira went up to the Land of Israel and could not find a ferry wherein to cross [a certain river], he grasped a rope bridge and crossed. Thereupon a certain Sadducee sneered at him, “Hasty people, that put your mouths before your ears, you are still, as ever, clinging to your hastiness.”
“The spot,” the former replied, “which Moshe and Aharon were not worthy [of entering] who could assure me that I should be worthy [of entering]?”
Rebi Ava used to kiss the cliffs of Acco. Rebi Chanina used to repair its roads. Rebi Ammi and Rav Assi used to rise [from their seats to move] from the sun into the shade and from the shade into the sun. Rebi Chiyya bar Gamda rolled himself in its dust, for it says, “For Your servants desire her stones and cherish her dust.” (Tehillim 102:15). (Kesuvos 112a)
For, when we all get there not only will we end the final chapter of a book that started with the yeridah of Ya’akov and his family descending into Egypt, but we will finally justify the very creation of Heaven and earth. The Egyptian exile will finally have come to its inevitable end.
Even those at the far corners of the earth G-d, your G-d, will gather and take you. G-d will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you will possess it. He will do good for you, and multiply you beyond previous generations. (Devarim 30:4-5)
The prayer for Kibbutz Golios is the tenth in the Shemonah Esrai. And, like the rest, it is written in present tense, as if it is happening all the time. The truth is, every time a Jew makes aliyah it is happening, and how much more so when large groups make the move to the Holy Land, the land of milk and honey.
Nevertheless, Kibbutz Golios occurs on more than one level:
All that we have said regarding Kibbutz Golios and Techiyas HaMeisim that they are constantly occurring, refers to the spiritual aspect, because the world is constantly undergoing rectification without pause. (Sha’arei Leshem, p. 509)
What the Leshem means is what he explained previously based upon the Arizal:
This refers to the Spark and the Broken Pieces from the Early Kings which died and broke; they are constantly being separated out, ascending through the reality of each world . . . (Ibid. p. 506)
In other words, prior to Creation and in order to make it, G-d took the original sefiros and broke them. They fell down from their original level, together with a certain amount of Holy Sparks, to where Creation was meant to be constructed. Before Bereishis they made up a primordial mess referred to as Olam HaTohu (the World of Null and Void). However, as G-d willed Creation into being, broken pieces were drawn out of Tohu to form the vessels, while the Sparks were drawn out to provide the basis for life.
While the Sparks and Broken Pieces were down in the primordial mire, it was as if they were dead. While they remained scattered, it was as if they had been exiled. However, as G-d willed Creation to exist, with each step along the way the exiled Sparks and Pieces were gathered to where they were commanded to go, and they were given new life as they became another aspect or element of Creation. This process of Kibbutz Golios and Techiyas HaMeisim has been ongoing since the Six Days of Creation and it will continue until Moshiach comes.
Therefore, it is essential that they return and ascend to their holy roots. This is their resurrection which will continue until the end of days when they will be renewed with an increase of blessing and holy influence of eternal life, may His Name be blessed. (Ibid. p. 507)
The main Kibbutz Golios is the actual redemption itself that will occur in this world and with actual people . . . (Ibid. . 509)
For, it is all one process whether it occurs behind the scenes on the spiritual plane or out in the open with the Jewish people. All vessels in this world are made from the Shivrei Keilim (Broken Pieces) from before Creation, and the soul of everything is a function of the Nitzotzei Kadosh (Holy Sparks).
They say, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Perhaps, it really should be: the bigger they are, the longer it takes for them to ascend – be it to the upper Sefiros or to Eretz Yisroel.
Have a great Shabbos,
Copyright © by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Winston has authored many books on Jewish philosophy (Hashkofa). If you enjoy Rabbi Winston’s Perceptions on the Parsha, you may enjoy his books. Visit Rabbi Winston’s online book store for more details! www.thirtysix.org