Friday, January 15, 2016

"Bnei Yisrael had Light in their Dwellings"

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

When the Torah wanted to show the difference between Bnei Yisrael and Egypt in the previous plagues, it was written that the plague did not have any effect on Yisrael. For example, in the plague of Wild Animals, "And that day I will separate the Land of Goshen... no wild animals will be there" [Shemot 8:3]. In the Epidemic of the cattle we read, "From the livestock of Bnei Yisrael not one died" [9:6]. For Hail, it is written, "Only in the Land of Goshen... there was no hail" [9:26]. Why is it that for Darkness, it is not written that it was not dark for Bnei Yisrael but rather in a positive manner, "All Bnei Yisrael had light in their dwellings" [10:23]?

According to the Mishna in Pirkei Avot, the world should have been created with one declaration, but it was created with ten in order to give a reward to the righteous people who maintain the world, which was created with ten separate statements. What this means is that if the world had been created with only one statement everybody would have clearly seen how the Holy One, Blessed be He, created everything, and no room would have been left for human activity and free choice. Therefore, the world had to be created in a way that hid the word of G-d in creation, and it was created in ten steps, going from one to the next until the last one, our world, appeared.

Our sages taught us that the Ten Plagues corresponded to the ten statements by which the world was created. Their purpose is to reveal the hidden facets of the ten statements. That is why with respect to the Plagues, the Torah emphasizes such elements as, "... so that you will know that there is no other like Me" [9:14].

However, the sequence of revelation in the Plagues is the opposite of the hidden elements of the Creation. In the first statement, "In the beginning," [Bereishit 1:1], little is hidden. It is written, "One day" [1:5], and not "the first day," because there were not yet any other statements, only "One G-d." Much more is hidden in the last statement. On the other hand, the goal of the first Plague, that of the Blood, is to reveal a small measure of the large hidden element in the last statement of Creation, while the purpose of the last Plague, of the Firstborns, is to remove the cover of the remaining hidden elements. And that is why it is written, "I will go out into Egypt" [11:4], which is translated in the Targum as, "I will be revealed." The revelation in this Plague was most prominent: "'And I will pass through Egypt' [Shemot 12:12] – I and not an angel, I and not a messenger, I am G-d" [Hagadda for Pesach].

The Plague before the last one is Darkness, and this corresponds to the second statement of Creation, "And G-d said, Let there be light, and there was light" [Bereishit 1:3]. The sages point out that it is not written, "And it was so," but rather, "There was light," because the original light that was created was not suitable for evil people, and it was stored away for the righteous in the distant future. In the Plague of Darkness, the situation was restored to its rightful status, and "The darkness will be palpable" [Shemot 10:21]. This is like the first day, before the light was created. But for Yisrael, not only was there no darkness as was the case for the Egyptians – rather, there was light, the very same light which will be revealed to the righteous people in the future.

In the book "Maor Vashemesh" it is written that the numerical value of the acronym of the verse, "All Bnei Yisrael had light in their dwellings," is 26, the same as the numerical value of the name of G-d. This is a hint that the light was the original light that had been stored away. The darkness that the Egyptians felt is described as "darkness from above." The special privilege of Bnei Yisrael was that not only didn't they experience the darkness of Egypt but they saw and felt the unique light from above.

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