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The Kabbalah of Egypt and Tzara'at

Thursday, 14 April, 2016 - 6:50 am


Do you believe in G-d? Do you believe in an intelligent designer and creator of the world? Do you believe in both? Neither?

The Midrash says that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of their belief in the L-ord. There are those who believe in G-d as creator of the world, using the logic that "nothing creates itself". The world and the human body, with all their complexities, must have had a creator. 

From a Kabbalistic perspective, this type of belief is called belief in the name of Elokim which has the gematria (numerical value) of Hateva – nature.
Elokim: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86 
HaTeva: Hay-Tet-Bet-Ayin 5 + 9 + 2 + 70 = 86

Another name of G-d, that we do not pronounce, is "Ha-vaye". This name is similar to the Hebrew words Haya Hove and Yihiyeh, which mean past, present and future, and it represents a G-d that is omnipresent.

Using the words G-d for Elokim - the way G-d is in nature and L-ord for the G-d that is above nature, we can understand this Midrash. 

When Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh and told him: "So said the Lord of Israel: 'Send out My people, and let them sacrifice to Me in the desert", Pharaoh said: "Who is the L-ord that I should heed His voice to let Israel out? I do not know the L-ord, neither will I let Israel out.” Pharaoh new about "Elokim" but not about "Havaye".  We see this by the plague of lice: "So the necromancers said to Pharaoh, "It is the finger of G-d" but Pharaoh's heart remained steadfast, and he did not hearken to them, as the L-ord had spoken.

The Jews believed, and continue to believe, that life is directed by G-d expressed as Havaye, the L-ord that is above nature, and in that merit they were redeemed. 

When we read this week's Torah portion where it continues to talk about the Tzara'at (usually mistranslated as leprosy) and how it is healed, we recognize that Tzara'at is really a spiritual sickness. The Rambam writes that Tzara'at is a collective term including many afflictions that do not resemble each other. The general term of tzara'at is not a natural occurrence. Instead, it is a sign and a wonder prevalent among the Jewish people to warn them against lashon hora, "undesirable speech”.

When a person speaks lashon hora, the walls of his house change colors. If he repents, the house will be purified. If, however, he persists in his wickedness until the house is destroyed, the leather implements in his house upon which he sits and lies change colors. If he repents, they will be purified. If he persists in his wickedness until they are burnt, the clothes he wears change colors. If he repents, they will be purified. If he persists in his wickedness until they are burnt, his skin undergoes changes and he develops tzara'at. This causes him to be isolated for it to be made known that he must remain alone so that he will not be involved in the talk of the wicked which is folly and lashon hora.

Similar to the Tzara'at being a super-natural occurrence, the Jewish people believed that all that happens in this world is a supernatural Havaye experience. Similar to the Tzara’at being a pathway to recovery from lashon hora, "undesirable speech", so too everything that Ha'vaye allows to happen to us is for our good.

Wishing not only good, but revealed good and healing for all and blessings for a kosher a happy Pesach,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


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