Parshat Vaeira: Transforming consciousness through goodness

“(…) and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Genesis 6:7)

This verse is the prelude of the first commandment of the Decalogue, and it sounds as a unilateral statement that anticipates the eternal bond between Israel and God. Considering that the statement is pointed out in the future tense, we understand it as a conditional and not immediate occurrence under the circumstances the children of Israel went through in the times previous to the Exodus from Egypt.

Our sages quote the Jewish oral tradition depicting that nation as the most depraved in the known world, and living there in slavery was considered as the most abject of human conditions. Hence the descendants of Jacob had to transform their individual and collective consciousness in order to fulfill the Creator’s promise as commandment in this verse.

Thus we assimilate being “a people” for Him, and He “a God” for us; and we begin to realize that it is about a bilateral statement to be fully achieved only when the children of Israel became a people with a particular identity, different and actually separated from the rest of the nations, starting with Egypt. Also thus we understand the passages in the Torah and the Hebrew Scriptures where we read “the God who brought you up out from the land of Egypt”, for our Jewish ancestors needed to be brought up from the lowest abjection to the highest level in human consciousness, the latter represented by the land of Israel, Jerusalem and their Temple, in this ascending order.

“And I will bring you into the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for a heritage. I am the Lord.” (6:8)

In this verse we realize that being brought up to the Promised Land required a transformational journey that took forty years, and actually began with the people of Israel’s submission to slavery in Egypt, called by our sages the iron furnace. In practical terms, we can understand it as a tough lesson in order not to take goodness for granted.

We have mentioned often in our previous commentaries on the Torah’s portions that the Promised Land is the place and time where we live and experience goodness in all facets, dimensions and expressions of life, for God reserved it for the Jewish people as the most proper and adequate condition to be and manifest goodness. Hence goodness is the source of more goodness, for it is its own cause and effect.

Assimilating goodness requires making a sharp distinction from anything different from its ways and attributes. Therefore, living in the lowest of human conditions as the opposite of the highest possible of conditions is the beginning to the awareness of goodness, not only as what the Creator wants us to live and enjoy, but as our essence and true identity.

We can make some parallel approaches to our current times. Back then in Egypt our ancestors lived as slaves of forced labor and oppression under ruthless and depraved rulers. Now people are slaves of addictive negative traits and trends that turn them into ruthlessly selfish, egotistic individuals, making life in this world a meaningless fleeting passage.

“(…) yet is their [the days of our years] pride but travail and vanity; passing speedily gone, and flying away.” (Psalms 90:10)

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

Some of our sages consider that the Jewish final redemption will be preceded by another change in consciousness, needed to enter the highest level that characterizes the Messianic era. Hence we must be aware about not who but what are the “Pharaohs” and their Egyptian slave masters in our current consciousness, as well as the “plagues” the Creator have been sending to destroy and obliterate such oppressors, in order for His love to bring us up out of our worst materialistic fantasies and illusions triggered by a misplaced ego driven beliefs and feelings of lack.

Hopefully sooner than later we realize that Pharaoh’s illusion that he created the river Nile as the fake god made by him is as useless and lifeless as a river of blood.

“And all the Egyptians dug round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.” (7:24)

And finally coming to the full awareness that we all only are God’s creatures made out of His love, in order to be and manifest love as our one and only purpose and destiny in the material world.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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