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Pharaoh represented the source of all spiritual impurity

Great Crocodile of the Nile

Great Crocodile of the Nile

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Great Crocodile of the Nile
Pharaoh represented the source of all spiritual impurity

Rebbe Shimon [opened his discourse] saying: "Now the time has come to reveal the secrets, bound above and below [of the ten sefirot of the kelipot]. …until they reached a supernal mighty Crocodile

These kelipot have their ultimate source in the holy realms and devolve down through the worlds of Beriya, Yetzira, and Asiya until they reach the level of Pharaoh. The Hebrew letters spelling of the word "Pharaoh" can be re-arranged to read "Po ra", meaning "Here is Bad".

Why does the verse say: "Come to Pharaoh", instead of "Go to Pharaoh?" G‑d took [Moses] to rooms within rooms [through different levels of these "external" forces] until they reached a supernal mighty Crocodile, from which devolve many different levels of impurity. What's this? The secret of the Great Crocodile.

In Hebrew, the word describing impurity is "tumah", and it has the concept of being "sealed", or "atum". This sealing off, is the apparent sealing off from a connection with the pure and holy divine source. This level of impurity is the spiritual source of the kelipot, which have the role of sealing off, like a husk or peel separates a fruit from the outside world. Moses was fearful of becoming contaminated by this level of impurity. He didn't want to approach it other than through the tributaries of the Nile, which represent lower spiritual levels than the Nile itself where the Great Crocodile was lurking. He was afraid of getting too close because he could see its roots in the higher source of spiritual impurity.

When the Holy One Blessed be He saw that [Moses] was afraid, and that other spiritual levels were repelled, He said: "Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, Great Crocodile crouching in the midst of his Nile tributaries, which has said, My river is my own, and I have made it for myself." (Ezekiel 29:3--in the Haftorah of last week's Reading,Vaera) The Holy Blessed One Himself needed to wage war with him, and no other.

Pharaoh as "king" represented the source of spiritual impurity, and as such only G‑d could battle him. This is the reason why G‑d Himself smote the first born of the Egyptians - He and not an angel, He and not a messenger.


Zohar II 34a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.
The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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