Middle East 4:15 AM 3/7/2014
Middle East 3:45 AM 3/7/2014
Middle East 4:45 AM 3/7/2014
Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Ancient Egypt, like America today, was the spiritual and cultural cesspool of the world. Promiscuity, adultery, and sexual perversion were the norm. When our Sages write that no foreign nation in Egypt ever escaped from the land, they mean it in a spiritual sense, as well as the physical. The clutches of temptation and sin were so powerful that no people, in the natural course of events, could shake off the shackles of lust that marked Egyptian life.
After living 210 years in such a sexually polluted environment, we plummeted to the 49th degree of impurity and would have been immediately destroyed if G-d had not miraculously interfered and rescued us with the utmost haste, speeding our exodus from the corrupted and sexually immoral land.
Our Sages tell us that we were redeemed from Egypt due to the merit of the two mitzvot which G-d commanded us to perform on the eve of our departure – the korban Pesach and the brit milah. Both of these commandments were designed to free us from our spiritual slavery to the lusts of the body, and liberate us to true freedom as servants to G-d. Among a cornucopia of bestial doings, the Egyptians worshipped the lamb. Among the domestic beasts, sheep are known for their fecundity. In a similar manner, licentiousness was an integral part of this idol worship. Our Sages teach us that the Jewish People only worshipped idols as an excuse to engage in the sexual debauchery that went with it. In commanding every Jewish household in Egypt to take a lamb, the Egyptians’ god, and slaughter it for the Pesach offering, G-d was commanding us to slaughter the physical lusts in ourselves that lead to the perversion of the holy marital union, and to the pollution of the holy life force of our nation. Interestingly, we were commanded to tie the lambs to our bedposts, not to the door, or the window, or kitchen table, but to our beds, precisely to drive this point into our individual and national consciences that we are to be a holy people, separated by the purity of our sexual lives from all of the other nations in the world.
This is the very same lesson of the brit milah. Only a man who was circumcised was allowed to partake in eating the Passover lamb. The removal of the foreskin both symbolizes, and physically effects, the removal of the impure physical lusts that accompany the marital union. On the eve of our departure from the bondage of Egypt and from our servitude to its debauched and immoral culture, we were called to renew the Brit of our Forefathers, the founding Covenant between G-d and the Jewish People, whereby we safeguard the purity of our sexual lives, symbolized by the brit milah, and G-d, for His part, promises us the Land of Israel as our eternal inheritance. Thus the Zohar teaches that in the merit of the blood of the slaughtered Paschal lamb (the korbon Pesach) and the blood of the brit milah, we were redeemed from the spiritual dungeon of Egypt.
This mixture of blood was to be splattered on the doorposts of our houses, as a sign to G-d that a Jew lived within, when G-d came to slaughter the firstborn of Egypt and to lead us out of slavery. It was this renewed commitment to sexual purity that protected us from the plague of death that struck the houses of the uncircumcised Egyptians that evening.
This separation from sexual immorality is the essence of the Jewish People, “a nation of priests and a holy nation.” Only when we rose above the sordidness and pollution of Egyptian culture could we escape from the chains of its bondage.
Rabbi Leon Levi explains the Kabbalistic meaning of our painstaking search for bread crumbs and leaven before the holiday of Pesach begins:
“Some people think that by scattering ten pieces of bread around the house, representing the ten foremost evil spiritual forces (kleipot), and by burning them in the morning with their chametz, they have gotten rid of all of their chametz. They don’t realize that their houses are still filled with the evil spiritual forces that they themselves have created in their very own bedrooms due to their wrongful doings. This is the spiritual chametz which we are commanded to oust from our homes along with the physical chametz. When a man burns his bread crumbs, he should cry out to G-d in tears, recite the "Tikun HaYesod" prayers, and beg G-d to forgive him for his errant ways and all of the blemishes he caused to the Brit. Then he can sit down to his evening Seder with a clean heart, prepared to receive all of the transcendental spiritual treasures of the night.”
Some “Tikun HaYesod” prayers, including the “Tikun HaKlali” of Rabbi Nachman, can be found in the Kabbalists section of our jewishsexuality.com website. Studying the articles on the site is another excellent way of rectifying sexual sins. But the most important thing is to make a serious commitment to change one’s errant ways and mistaken habits for the better.
Another powerful rectification is giving charity to poor people before Pesach, helping them to meet its considerable costs, so that they can enjoy the holiday. This is a rectification for the selfish pleasure a person experiences during sexual transgression – instead of thinking only of himself and his pleasures, he gives of his own monies to insure the pleasure of others.