In this week's parasha, we are told:
"The son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man went outside amongst the children of Israel. And that son of an Israelite woman contended with an Israelite man in the camp. So the son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the name [of G‑d] and cursed, and they brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelomit, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. They put him in jail until [Moses] could tell them what G‑d said to do [with him]. And G‑d spoke to Moses, saying, Bring the curser outside the camp and all those who heard [him curse] should place their hands upon his head, and then all the congregation should stone him." (Lev. 24:10-14)

Moses…slew the taskmaster by pronouncing G‑d's name…

We are told in the oral tradition that this curser was the son of an Egyptian taskmaster. Shelomit was an overly outgoing, talkative woman, as alluded to by the fact that the Torah mentions that she was "the daughter of Dibri"; these words may be read as "the talkative daughter", as the word dibri in Hebrew implies "talkative". Because of her immodesty, this Egyptian taskmaster took note of her and desired her. He woke her husband up in the middle of the night and summoned him to his work. While the husband was out, the Egyptian taskmaster slipped into the house and had relations with Shelomit, who thought that this man was her husband. When the husband came home, he understood what had happened. When the taskmaster saw that the husband understood what had happened, he afflicted him relentlessly. Moses, who at this point was still an Egyptian noble, had gone out to see how his compatriots were doing, and when he witnessed how this taskmaster was afflicting Shelomit's husband, he slew the taskmaster by pronouncing G‑d's name. (See Rashi on v. 10 and on Ex. 2:11).

Years later, the son born of this illicit union tried to encamp in the camp of the tribe of Dan, but an Israelite man quoted him the verse, "The children of Israel shall encamp such that each man be near the flag of the insignia of their father's houses." (Num. 2:2) This man could therefore not claim the right to encamp with his mother's tribe. The two of them went into Moses' tent to be judged, and the verdict was against the son of the Egyptian, who then went outside Moses' tent and blasphemed. G‑d told Moses that after the witnesses place their hands on his head, the court should stone him.

[In order to understand this,] you must [first] know what it says in the Zohar (III:106a), namely, that the word for "blaspheme" [in Hebrew, "vayikov"] is to be understood [as it is in the phrase] "and he bored [in Hebrew, "vayikov"] a hole in its door."(Kings II 12:10)

The word for: "and he blasphemed/vayikov", literally means: "and he bored"; the Mishnaic word for "hole", "nekev", is derived from this word. The verse regarding the son of the Egyptian may thus be read, "…he bored a hole in the name [of G‑d]…", and in general, blaspheming G‑d's name may be mystically seen as "puncturing" it.

He bored this hole because he wanted to defend his mother.

We will see presently how the son of the Egyptian sought to defend his mother, Shelomit, by boring this hole in G‑d's name.

The evil of Cain was transferred into the Egyptian that Moses killed…

According to the Zohar, the Israelite man who was arguing with the son of the Egyptian was in fact his step-brother. When Shelomit's husband understood that she had had illicit relations with the taskmaster, and that this was brought about by her immodest behavior, he separated from her and took another wife. This Israelite man was the son of Shelomit's husband and his second wife. This second son knew the story surrounding the first son's birth, and in the course of explaining to him why he was not allowed to encamp together with the tribe of Dan, told him the circumstances of his birth. The first son then blasphemed G‑d's name in order to defend his mother Shelomit's honor, as we shall see.

Now, you must know that when Abel was killed [by Cain] over the extra twin [sister born with him], the evil of Cain was transferred into the Egyptian [taskmaster] that Moses killed, since [Moses] was a reincarnation of Abel, who was killed by Cain.

Twin sisters were born with both Cain and Abel, but with Abel came two twin sisters. The brothers were meant to marry their twin sisters and thus populate the world. Cain was jealous of Abel's extra sister-wife, and this is one of the reasons he killed him.

Now, the blasphemer was the son of the Egyptian, and he was entirely evil, devoid of any good [aspects].

In the semi-parallel passage in Shaar HaPesukim, the Arizal points out that the son of the Egyptian inherited the evil of Cain from his father. This is why the Torah specifically calls him "the son of an Egyptian man". Because Moses killed his father using the divine name, he blasphemed that same divine name.

His mother, Shelomit the daughter of Dibri, was a spark of that second twin of Abel's, over which Cain killed him. Therefore, this Egyptian was killed over this Shelomit.

Just as Cain desired Abel's sister-wife…the Egyptian taskmaster desired her reincarnation…

Since Cain killed Abel over Abel's sister-wife, the reincarnation of Cain (the Egyptian taskmaster) was killed over the reincarnation of the sister-wife (Shelomit).

In the semi-parallel passage in Shaar HaPesukim, the Arizal states that just as Cain desired Abel's sister-wife, his reincarnation, the Egyptian taskmaster, desired her reincarnation, Shelomit. Moses, the reincarnation of Abel, killed this Egyptian, thereby avenging the death of Abel at the hands of Cain.

To continue on to part 2, please click here.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Taamei HaMitzvot and Shaar HaPesukim, parashat Emor; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.