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Taking Back The World

20/01/13 02:44:27


R Pesach Siegel

Parshas Bo 5773

Taking Back the World

This week’s parshah marks the culmination of the ten makos that Hashem brought upon Mitzrayim. Some of them were life threatening, most were not. Pharaoh stubbornly resisted releasing the Bnei Yisroel from their slavery. Even as he appeared to “give in” while the plague was in progress, as soon as he was afforded relief from the dreaded makah he reverted back to his original obstinacy.

It was makos bechoros that brought Pharaoh to his knees. He was a first born. It was a direct threat against him.

Had Hashem wished, he could have brought about Pharaoh’s submission through one makah alone.

Hashem did not wish so.

The exact number of makos was a calculated one.

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos tells us that Hashem created the world through ten ma’amaros (utterings). This was done in order to punish the wicked ones who destroy a world that was created with ten utterings. It was done to better reward the righteous who sustain the world that was created with ten utterings.[1]

The Seforim HaKedoshim reveal that there is a direct parallel between the ten plagues and the ten ma’amaros.[2]

The process of creation was brought about by the Creator expressing the term “VaYomer” upon each separate stage of creation. This had a direct effect on the form that creation took. As a result, the world is one of multiples. It is a world of choices. Had Hashem created the entire world with one expression of the word “VaYomer” the form the world would have taken would have been one of total clarity. There would have been no alternate paths that one might have stumbled upon, getting lost in the process.

It is the will of the Creator that we are to be born into a world of options. It is a world that we are given the capability of free choice. We are to utilize that free choice in order to discover the unity of creation which is hidden beneath all the multitude of options and choices.

The Egyptians, with Pharaoh at their head claimed the world for their own. Pharaoh declared, "I am the master of the world. I created myself. I created the Nile river and it is mine."[3]

The Egyptians viewed the world through the skewed perspective of the various multiples contained within. They mistakenly viewed the power of the sun as a separate entity from the power of wildlife. The force that controls the weather is separate from that which controls the force of gravity. They believed that there is no central guiding hand. And they believed that the one who controls the life giving waters of the Nile river is in possession of the key of life to the entire world. And they controlled the Nile river.

The Egyptians saw the ten ma'amaros, but failed to look deeper. They saw not the One who uttered the ten ma'amaros.[4]

The process of the ten makos is not one of punishment alone. It was the process of taking back the world from Pharaoh and his minions.

Rav Gedalia Schor, in his sefer Ohr Gedalyahu, expounds on the last three makos, Arbeh, Choshech, and Makos Bechoros.

Makos Bechoros - The Bechor is the first born son of his parents. He is the beginning. He creates his parents, for it is through his birth that they become something they have never been. Pharaoh may lay claim to being a creator, but he is shown that G-d controls all beginnings.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Breishis bara Elokim es hashamayim vi'es ha'aretz."[5]

Choshech - Pharaoh has no control over light and dark, as he fails to provide light for his subjects during the makah of Choshech.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim yehi ohr."[6]

Arbeh - Among the animal kingdom, locusts are known to lack unity. The Torah tells us, "Melech ayn la'arbeh"[7] - There is no unifying king who unites the locusts. They split up and spread out. The power of rending things asunder is G-d's alone.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim yehi rakiya bisoch hamayim."[8] - Let there be a split in the midst of the waters.

The following explanations for the remaining seven makos are merely suggestions.

Barad - The vegetation of Mitzrayim was devastated. Pharaoh has no ability to protect the growing things of Egypt.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim tadsheh ha'aretz desheh."[9] - Let the land be carpeted with greenery.

Sh'chin - The skin of the Egyptians was filled with burning boils.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim yehi me'oros birkiya hashamayim"[10] - This is the creation of the burning hot properties of the sun.

Dever - The life force left the livestock of the Egyptians.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim totzeh ha'aretz nefesh chayah."[11] - Let the Earth produce living creatures.

Arov - The wild animals of the world came to Mitzrayim and attacked the "superior" humans of Egypt.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim etc., ulechol chayas ha'aretz etc., es kol yerek eisev le'achlah."[12] - G-d created vegetation to sustain the animals. When man acts as one created in the image of G-d, the animals are in awe of him. They dare not attack man, and they subsist on vegetation. The Egyptians failed to live up to this standard.

Kinim - The dust of the earth turned into lice. They had no mastery over the ground beneath their feet.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim yikavu hamayim mitachas hashamayim el makom echad vi'sayra'eh hayabasha"[13] - Let the waters recede so that dry land may emerge.

Tzfardaya - They were attacked by creatures that emerged from the water to perform Hashem's bidding.

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim yishretzu hamayim sheretz nefesh chayah"[14] - Let the waters be filled with swarming life.

Dam - The waters of the Nile turned to blood. Hashem created blood to perform as the life force of man. The life force of the Egyptians is ebbing away from them.[15]

This is parallel to the posuk, "Vayomer Elokim na'aseh Adam."[16]

And thus, the world was again set upon the path of the revelation of the ten ma’amaros, revealing Hashem’s hand in all.

[1] Pirkei Avos, perek 1, mishna 1

[2] S’fas Emes, Parshas Va’Eira

[3] Yechezkel, perek 29, posuk 3, Medrash Rabbah, Sh’mos, 5, 14

[4] Based on the words of the Sefer Hazohar, the Chasam Sofer (quoted in Ohr Gedalyahu) refers to this as separating the “Mi” from the “Ayleh”. When these two phrases are combined they form the name “Elokim”. Pharaoh said, “Mi Hashem asher eshma bikolo.” The posuk states, “Lima’an shisi ososay Eileh bikirbo.” In Mitzrayim the two terms are separated.

[5] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 1

[6] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 3

[7] Mishlei, perek 30, posuk 27

[8] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 6

[9] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 11

[10] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 14

[11] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 24

[12] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 29 - 30

[13] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 9

[14] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 20

[15] Tiferes Shlomo, Parshas Ha’azinu. The name Adam is a composite of the letter “aleph” and the word “dam”.

[16] Breishis, perek 1, posuk 26

Mon, September 21 2020 3 Tishrei 5781