Perashat Va'era The Plagues and Control of the Spiritual Neck

By Mr. Victor Bibi Jan 10, 2018 01:17 PM Vaeira

During the servitude of Israel - the Egyptian sorcerers had catapulted פרעה and the מצרים into an elevated spiritual location. This place is anthropomorphically described as the nape of the spiritual neck - It is hinted to - in the name פרעה which retains the identical letters as הערף - There - they would siphon off holiness destined for Israel insuring their continued power and the subjugation of Israel as slaves.

Mystically this spiritual place is associated with the אחוריים דבינה - Armed with this understanding - we can begin to appreciate four of the Torah's terms תבן ירוק דם חרב that are associated with this spiritual level - The Zohar (Bo 36) cites a verse in ישעיה יט that parallels the smiting of Egypt with the healing of Israel.

We will review the teaching of the Sages regarding both the plagues wrought against Egypt and the redemption of Israel in relation to the four terms noted - The Torah and our Sages have thus coded via these terms the struggle to use and control this spiritual level located at the back of the neck. Both the destruction of Egypt and the redemption of Israel would take place at the point where תבן ירוק דם חרב - are spiritually situated. Finally we will discuss the secret behind the related custom during the מגיד portion of the הגדה to take from the כוס יין - spilling it 16 times into a broken vessel while reciting three prophetic plagues, the ten plagues of Egypt  and the acrostic דצ״ך עד״ש באח״ב - of R. Yehuda.

The Teven and the Yarok

It was apparently the intent of God for the initial confrontation between Moshe and Par'o to result in Egypt no longer supplying תבן - literally straw - to Israel. The slaves would have to gather it on their own. In their complaint to משה - Israel asserted that by removing their ability to use the תבן -  of the Egyptians it was tantamount to לתת חרב בידם - giving Egypt a sword to kill us. The second confrontation through the narrative of the מטה - or the swallowing of the serpents - sets up a clash between the אותות of God and the magic of the Egyptians.

The Talmud (Men 85) teaches that the chief חרטומים of Egypt יוחני וממרא - the sons of בלעם had at this point (SR 9:7) commented to Moshe - תבן you are bringing to עפריים - ? Normally  understood as - Why bring sorcery to a place steeped in magic? To this Moshe responds that he is bringing ירוק literally vegetables to the שוק ירוק - the vegetable market. This pivotal spiritual junction coded תבן and ירוק had been under Egyptian control. The Talmud (Hag 12) describes the husk of creation תוהו in terms of the ability to access a קו ירוק - a green line from which darkness emerges - encircling the world.

This was the level from which Egypt was siphoning off spiritual sustenance fueling the Husk of Egypt. It is admitted as such - in the response of Moshe to the sorcerers. Egypt is the market of the ירוק - not vegetables - but it is the place that this green line is being controlled. The Talmud (Hulin 139) inquires as to where  אסתר - can be sourced in the written law?

The Gemara answers that she is associated with the concealment of the face of God during exile as the verse in Devarim 31:18 hints ואנכי הסתר אסתיר פני - Furthermore - this source admits that אסתר -was known as הדסה - literally myrtle - as she had a green complexion אסתר ירקרקת - This is a coded message that during the exile of מצרים - Par'o and the חרטומים - had accessed this green line - an elevated but accessible spiritual place. Finally the חרטומים - told Moshe that they controlled the תבן which is related to this same level or תבונה - see (Lik Moharan 11) - We know that תבונה is the mystical term for the back (lower portion) of בינה or the place from where מצרים ruled.

It appears to me that Moshe had initiated for the control of the תבן by מצרים - to cease. Israel worried that this would allow Egypt to gain access to an even more elevated level of בינה itself (Zohar Beshalah 63) which is the full expression of the name אהי״ה - numerically 10 x 21 or 210 giving the sword חרב - 210 to Par'o. Hence Israel expressed this same concern to Moshe and claimed "By stopping the straw or תבן of Egypt - you are now giving them access to an even higher level associated with the sword - which you have placed into his hand?

The Divine plan had it that Israel regain access to this pivotal spiritual region - via the additional labor of attaining their תבן - and via gaining access of the ירוק back from the hold of Egypt thru the אותות of the מטה - The judgement must turn now upon Egypt - the Husk must be broken in the same manner it was built. Israel begins to gather in their own תבן - Moshe via the מטה - brings judgement - his ירוק upon Egypt in the secret of Abraham's war against the four kings. - וירק את חניכיו -  This is the stage for Israel to make use of the green line to bring judgement upon the enemies of God.

The Blood and the Sword

R. HaAri (SK - PESAH 1) teaches that the spiritual DNA of the pivotal junction that had been under the control of מצרים is associated with (impure) blood. As the spiritual back of אהי״ה or אחוריים דבינה - is expressed through the extended letters of א- אה - אהי - אהי״ה - which is numerically דם or blood. We know (NID 19) that there are five colors of impure blood. We learned above that the exile of Israel (and the שכינה - see Meg 29) are found within אסתר - This descent of Israel is referenced at a time when the שכינה is טמא via the five bloods that render impure.

The Talmud (Meg 13) teaches (that in order to rectify this spiritual descent) she did the bidding of מרדכי - and showed the דם נדה - one of the five reddish colors of impure blood to the Sages. (SA YD 188). This represented a Tikun of the blood. As the Talmud teaches - though אסתר was green there was a חוט של חסד upon her - This is a reference to the purification of the שכינה and the 5 bloods (hasadim) of purity.

Rashi cites the Midrash (Mekh Pisha 5) that it was in the merit of two commandments related to blood that Israel was redeemed. The source verse (Yeh 16:7) admits that דם had been used by מצרים to control Israel - מתבוססת בדמיך - You wallowed in your blood - In order to gain freedom - Israel must rectify the bloods ואמר לך בדמיך חיי ואמר לך בדמיך חיי - via the blood of מילה and the blood of פסח - which according to the הגדה of R. N. Shapira represented the control of the Male and Female aspects of the blood.

As is written in Zekharya 9:11 - Through the blood of your covenant I will have released your prisoners from the pit in which there is no water. At this point - it is important to recall that Moshe had been informed that the Divine Name אהי״ה will be the one associated with redemption from the husk of מצרים - specifically via the coded message אהי״ה אשר אהי״ה - Furthermore the Torah describes that the redemption came via בזרע נטויה - God's extended arm.

The הגדה explains זו החרב - this refers to the sword of God as it is written וחרבו שלופה בידו נטויה - Moshe had used the תבן bringing the ירוק upon Egypt via the pathway of אהי״ה arousing God's חרב - This was the necessary pathway to break the opposing power of the חרב of Par'o and his חרטומים - Israel was correct in their assertion that the destructive forces of מצרים had gained access to a חרב - The Torah describes the ability of the Egyptian sorcerers to transform their staffs into serpents as בלהטיהם - According to the Talmud (San 67) this was magic involving the sword found at the entrance of Gan Eden - as in Ber 3:24 ואת להט החרב -the revolving sword blade - It was necessary to effectuate the destruction of the forces of Egypt removing their  חרב - replacing it with the חרב ה׳ - through which we were redeemed.

The Plagues and Spilling the Wine

According to R. HaAri The plagues visited upon Egypt were not random punishments - but were deliberate acts with intent to break their husk which had been nourishing from the holiness of Israel. The patterns formed of the ten plagues would take course over a year. (Eduyot 2:10). Many have surmised that the reason for the acrostic of דצ״ך עד״ש באח״ב was to hi-light a pattern formed of three groups of three plagues.

The first two in each triad were forewarned while the last coming unannounced. The initial plague of each triad is pre-empted with Moshe stationed by the King giving an A.M. warning. The second in each triad is forewarned by Moshe in front of the palace. The first triad is performed by Aharon while the last is via Moshe. At the start of each triad - there is a reminder that Egypt should thereby know God. According to R. HaAri however the plagues represent strikes upon the complete structure of the husks of Egypt.

This structure which was built in three triads needed to be conquered in a parallel spiritual pattern. The Midrash (Tanhuma) asserts that the סימנים of רבי יהודה - were engraved upon the staff of Moshe. In the הגדה commentary פאר אהרן it teaches that the חרטומי מצרים included sorcerers who had via their כישוף had sought to enslave Israel permanently. The numerical value of these three sorcerers בלעם יחני ממרא is 501 the same numerical value as the total acrostic 501 of R. Yehuda.

So the acrostic is not merely a pattern reference of the plagues but represents the attempt to dislodge the hold of the sorcerers on Israel. It appears to me that this is the secret behind the central word in the expression of redemption - אהי״ה אשר אהי״ה - The numerical value of אשר - also 501 to break the חרטומי מצרים via the acrostic of R. Yehuda. R. Y. Semah in his glosses to (PEH - PESAH) writes that he heard from a scholar in the name of R. Hayim Vital that (on the night of Pesah) he would pour out wine from the second cup itself into a broken vessel.

The custom is to pour out יין  wine -  16 times as this is reminiscent of the 16 blades (Maavar Yabok 3:9) that the חרב ה׳ is fashioned. (Zohar - Tikunim) - The husks are actually 16 - the first three דם אש ותמרות עשן - are the prophetic plagues mentioned by יואל הנביא - of the future, the ten plagues are to break the husks of Egypt - while the acrostic broken up into three is to weaken the structure of the חרטומי מצרים - via sharpening the חרב ה׳ - While wine is also spiritually sourced in בינה the root of the green line (EH 39:10) - it exits via the כוס numerically אלהי״ם to strike the broken vessel - reminiscent of the husk of Egypt.

These sorcerers Bil'am and his sons (22:22) are later confronted by the מלאך ה׳ with his sword on the road to do the bidding of בלק - The sword of Hashem would finally wield itself in cutting down these sorcerers in the war against Midyan (31:8) And they killed Bil'am Ben Be'or with the sword. In order to participate in קרבן פסח - one must be prepared individually - by having rectified his own blood via דם מילה - Each year at the Seder table - we - those who have rectified the spiritual aspect of blood - can then proceed to activate the sword of Hashem - as the verse (Yishaya 34:6) teaches - The sword of ה׳ is full of blood.

As we spill the wine into the broken vessel -activating the 16 bladed sword - we must realize that our actions are to help - retain control of the pivotal access point at the nape of the spiritual neck.