A Golden Opportunity
Zohar, Shemot, p. 7b; translation and commentary by
(From our sister-site, Kabbala
Parashat Shemot talks of the exile and redemption of the
Jewish people from their first exile in Egypt. In this section of the
Zohar, Rebbe Shimon compares the Egyptian exile, where the Jews were given
houses and food but were enslaved nonetheless, with the later exiles and
the ultimate redemption through the leadership of the Mashiach.
Come and see. It is written: For thus says the Lord G-d,
My people went down the first time to Egypt to live there; and the Assyrian
oppressed them without cause. (Isaiah 52:4)
The Assyrians dispersed the exiled tribes to the furthermost
corners of their empire and took from them and deprived them of their
own country. Egypt provided the Jews with all of those good things [the
land of Goshen and houses and food] and was nonetheless punished with
all those punishments [the plagues and military destruction].
How much more will be the punishment of Syria and Edom [Europe]
and those other peoples who anguish them and kill them and take their
wealth. [This punishment will be] at the time when the Holy One Blessed
be He decides to reveal the glory of His name on them. So it is written
[about the war of Gog and Magog]: "Thus will I magnify Myself and
sanctify Myself; and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations,
and they shall know that I am G-d." (Ezek. 38:23). There in Egypt
[when G-d manifested His glory] there was one king [Pharaoh]. In the future
[redemption His glory will be manifested] to all the rulers of the world.
Rebbe Shimon lifted up his hands and cried.
The raising of the hands, which are each comprised of 10
fingers representing the 10 sefirot, is the physical manifestation of
connecting to the higher sefirot, which are the containers of the manifestation
of the Divine. The tears shed by Rebbe Shimon were a heartfelt attempt
to sweeten the harsh judgment he foresaw.
He said: Woe to he who is present at that time [of the coming
of the Mashiach] and happy is the portion of one who is present and found
at that time.
Woe to he who is present at that time because at the time
when the Holy One Blessed be He comes to redeem the deer [the Shechina
from exile] He will look at all those who stand with her and at all those
who are found with her. He will look at the actions of each and every
one of them, and He will not find one who is worthy and righteous, as
is written: "And I looked, and there was none to help" (Isaiah
63:5). Then how many troubles will come upon troubles for Israel. Happy
is he who is ready at that time, because he who lives in faith at that
time will be worthy to receive the light of the joy of the King [because
then G-d will rejoice in His works]. It is of that time that the verse
refers to; "I will refine them as silver is refined, and will test
them as gold is tested". (Zechariah 13:9)
Silver is refined through heat. The impurities are burnt
out. So will it be at the time of the revelation of the Mashiach.
The troubles will be like fire to purify the rebellious
and the wicked. The remainder will be tested as to their faith as gold
is tested in the goldsmith's forge to test if it is free of impurities.
Happy are they who will have the faith enabling them to endure these times
because they will see the direction of the seemingly chaotic events. Those
who have no faith will be subject to terror and fear which will give them
the chance to rise to the challenge - or fail the test.
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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.