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Elevating the Sparks Trapped in Exile

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Vaera by Rabbi Meir Elkabas

"לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי ה' וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים" שְׁמוֹת ו':ו'

“Therefore, say to Bnei Yisrael: I am God, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt, and I shall rescue you from their service, and I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Shemos 6:6

As outlined in the writings of the holy Ariza"l, the goal and purpose of Creation is to elevate holy “sparks” trapped therein. These sparks – initially vessels of holiness used for the Creation – were shattered and scattered throughout the Creation, a built-in flaw, so that mankind can have a purpose and directive in his existence. Man’s mission is to collect these sparks and elevate them to their proper place – i.e. back to Hashem. With this, Hashem’s glory shines ever brighter, bringing His kindness and love for mankind more openly available and accessible.

Now, the goal of mitzvah performance is to attract the energy of these holy sparks. However, ultimately, the elevation of these sparks back to their source is specifically through performance of the mitzvos with joy. Joy is the backbone factor of all mitzvah performance, as the Psalmist writes (Tehillim 100:2): "עִבְדוּ אֶת ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה". If this joy is missing, the mitzvah performance begins to slack, inevitably leaving the sparks trapped. And the more the sparks are trapped, the more exile takes place. For, in essence, these sparks are in exile. They are not being collected and elevated, so they sink further into the darkness of Creation – exile. And when exile takes place, sadness and depression abound. This sadness and depression then make it more difficult to perform mitzvos with joy – a vicious cycle.

What is needed is a “boost” of joy from another level – another dimension – to reboot a person’s mitzvah performance. Rebbe Nachman teaches – [among other ways to attain joy] the main source of solid and lasting joy is “borrowing it” from the future. The knowledge and belief that in the end, Hashem will have His way – in the end the world will reach complete rectification – is a major consolation for any cause of sadness in life. For if, in the end, everything will work out – why should one fret so much? Why the low and pessimistic attitude if one knows that the good in Creation will come out victorious?

This was the purpose of the Egyptian exile and redemption. The lack of simchah in doing the mitzvos led the Jews to fall into the hands of bondage, where the Jewish morale and simchah was also in bondage. What was needed was a boost from another level to get the Jews filled with hope and joy. The 10 plagues – all supernatural – were a foretaste of Hashem’s future revelation.

Hashem “borrowed” an attitude from the Future Redemption to bring joy and consolation while still in Egyptian bondage, so that they could eventually perform the mitzvos that they were to receive at Har Sinai with joy.

May we merit “observing” the daily miracles of life, using them to activate strong joy, so that we can start again in performing the mitzvos with joy.


Reb Meir Elkabas, originally from Toronto, has been involved with Breslov teachings since 1989. He graduated FYHS in 1991, then spentfive years learning Torah from a Breslov perspective under Rabbi Moshe Levy in Toronto. In 1997 he moved to the Holy Land. Learning with Breslov elders & teachers, including Reb Michel Dorfman & Reb Chaim Kramer, he developed a special technique in learning, going with & living the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, which he calls "Breslov Therapy". He also works for the Breslov Research Institute in Jerusalem.

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