Pesach thoughts: A personal spark

The mystics taught that when G-d created the world He embedded sparks of Divinity in it. When a Jew uses a physical object for holy purpose, the spark is released from captivity within that object.

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow,

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

Let My People Go
Did you know that everything in your possession was intended for you yet from before the world was created? As G-d created each specific object (Or the properties from which these objects would be made) He determined its owner. Your couch, wallet, furniture and car, were designed by G-d for you. He invested your personal spark in it so you could redeem it and in the process you redeem yourself too.

G-d asked Moses to instruct the Jews to borrow gold, silver and apparel from their Egyptian neighbors before they would leave Egypt. The Talmud tells us that the Jews were appalled. Let’s just grab our belongings and go, why waste time gathering gold, who cares for possessions at a time like this?

Yet G-d insisted on it because He had promised Abraham that his children would leave Egypt with great treasure and He didn’t want Abraham to hold it against Him.[1] Of course this only deflects the question to Abraham. Why would Abraham want the Jews to suffer in Egypt for even one moment longer than necessary? Why would this loving father place treasure above freedom at a critical time like this?

The mystics explained that Jews were afraid that if they remained in Egypt for but one moment longer they might not be redeemed. Jews in Egypt had sunk to unprecedented spiritual lows. They were at the very brink. One more moment and they would have slipped into a spiritual pit from which there could be no extraction. This only exacerbates our question. Why would Abraham want his children to risk everything for monetary treasure?

Personal Spark
There is where we return to the personal spark. The mystics taught that when G-d created the world He embedded sparks of Divinity in it. When a Jew uses a physical object for holy purpose, the spark is released from captivity within that object. Jews descended to Egypt for a mystical reason. Egypt had some of the most deeply embedded sparks in the world and releasing them would be difficult. Jews spent more than two centuries there and risked their very spirituality to redeem those sparks. Before leaving, they endeavored to extract every last spark embedded there.

The items that the Jews carried with them, are the very items in which these sparks were embedded. And, the mystics teach us, that each Jew walked out with the very item that he or she was meant to redeem. You see, these sparks can’t be released by just any Jewish person that uses them for a mitzvah. These sparks are highly individualized and can only be released from captivity by the Jew assigned to it.

Each Jewish soul descends to the world with pre assigned sparks to redeem. And these sparks sit patiently awaiting this soul’s arrival since the beginning of time. When we purchase a cup, a dish, a car or a bar of soap, it was intended to belong to us. We think we picked a random phone off the shelf or that the company sent us a random pair of shoes that we bought online, but that is not the case. Each item that we own, contains our personal sparks. Just as each Jew left Egypt with his personal spark, so do we receive the items that contain our personal sparks.

We can now understand why Abraham was concerned for the physical treasure that his children would haul out of Egypt. It wasn’t the monetary value; it was the sparks. If they left Egypt without these sparks, their entire suffering and spiritual gamble would have been for naught. This was the purpose of it all. He would hardly want them to flee with their lives and then need to return for those items.

Purpose of Creation
Yet we are left wondering. If the Jews had remained in Egypt for just one more moment, they would have sunk into a spiritual abyss from which there could be no return. Was it worthwhile to risk all that?

The answer is that redeeming the spark is not just for the sake of the spark, but for the sake of the soul. The soul descends from on high to spend seven to ten decades on earth. While it is here, it plays with fire. Surrounded by pitfalls and temptations, any pure soul can succumb and be sullied. Is it worthwhile?

The answer is yes because releasing these sparks fulfills the very purpose of the soul. Not just the purpose of its descent to the world, but the purpose of its creation. G-d created the soul for one purpose. To redeem the personal sparks, it would encounter in this life. He then created sparks that are perfectly suited to this soul. The soul suits the sparks and the sparks suit the soul.

Can you imagine making this entire journey, but then failing to redeem our personal sparks? Not only would the journey be a waste, its entire existence would be a waste. The soul has waited from the dawn of history to redeem these sparks and when the opportunity finally presents itself, it should avoid its meeting with destiny? Of course the soul would risk everything for the chance to fulfill its destiny. It was for this that it was created.

A Heavy Load
This idea is reflected in an interesting contradiction. The Talmud posits that Jews did not want to take along these possessions because it would increase their load, yet at the Red Sea we learn that Jews collected even more booty than they confiscated on their way out of Egypt. If they were worried about the load, why did they increase it manifold at the Red Sea?

The answer is that their real concern was their need for rapid mobility in case the Egyptians would attack. After the Egyptian army was downed there was no further need for rapid mobility and they did not mind weighing themselves down.[2]

The Spiritual parallel here is fascinating. So long as Egypt was present and Jews could be lured into their sinful ways, Jews were wary of remaining in Egypt for even one more moment. The load of lifting the sparks filled them with dread of risking their souls. Yet, once they took these items and fulfilled the purpose of their souls, the spiritual gamble of association with Egypt was no longer a factor. They were so strong, that Egypt no longer posed a threat. Thus the load was not too heavy.[3]

A Long Journey
You might wonder why some items come and go from your possession. The answer is that a single item can have multiple sparks. You need to own it for the time that it takes for you to redeem your personal spark, but when you complete your task, G-d arranges for the item’s transfer to the person responsible for redeeming the next spark in the item. Sometimes it comes to the next person directly and sometimes it travels a circuitous route, but one thing is certain. It always goes where it is meant to go.

Sources:

 

[1] Babylonian Talmud Brachos 9a.

[2] Iyun Yaakov Ibid.

[3] See Likutei Sichos v. p. 823.



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