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Saved Us from the Hand of the Shepherds
After Shabbat, Shemot, Tav-Shin-Lamed-Het, December 31, 1977
“Moses said … ‘And they will say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I will be who I will be.’ He said, ‘Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, ‘I will be’ sent me to you.’” RASHI interpreted, “I will be” with them in this trouble, and I will be with them in the enslavement of the rest of the kings.
He said to Him, “Master of the world, why am I reminding them of another trouble? This trouble is enough for them.” He told him, “Well said, thus shall you say to the children of Israel, ‘I will be’ sent me to you.’” RASHI interpreted that the Creator reiterated what He had said earlier to Moses alone, and said “I will be” twice, while to Israel, he said “I will be” only once (Berachot 9).
“And they said, ‘An Egyptian man saved us from the hand of the shepherds.’” There is an allegory in the Midrash about a man who was bitten by a donkey, and he ran to put his feet in the water. He put it in the river and saw an infant sinking in the water, so he stretched out his hand and saved him. The infant said to him, “Were it not for you, I would have been dead.” He replied to the infant, “It was not I who saved you, but the donkey, which bit me and I ran from it. He is the one who saved you.” This is why they said to their father, “An Egyptian man saved us from the hands of the shepherds.” But who caused the Egyptian man to come to us? The Egyptian man that he had killed.
What does this tell us? We can interpret this by intimation. Moses was to come to the general public of Israel and tell them that the Creator will deliver them from exile. Therefore, He told him only once, “I will be,” meaning that they would have exile only in that Israel are in exile among the nations of the world.
In other words, we should discern between the gentile in Israel—who is in exile among the nations, when one wants what the nations want, meaning every corporeal thing, and the gentiles do not give them what they want. When the gentiles of the nations of the world rule over the gentiles of the people of Israel, this is called “corporeal exile.”
But exile is primarily in the quality of Israel in a person, when he should observe the Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] and the gentiles within him do not give him the freedom to do what he wants. At that time, one feels that he is in exile within his own body. Before one emerges from this exile, from corporeal lusts, he cannot feel spiritual pleasures from Torah and Mitzvot.
Then, the body is made to understand that it is better for it to relinquish corporeal lusts, for by this he will be rewarded with real pleasures. And when he begins to relinquish corporeal lusts, the body wants to show its governance and resists his actions. This is the meaning of the words, “Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You did not save Your people at all.”
That is, before we begin to speak with the body, called “wicked Pharaoh,” “to speak in Your name,” meaning relinquish everything for sake of the Creator, we see the lowliness of the body and begin to feel the exile. This is one “I will be,” meaning in this trouble. This pertains to the general public of Israel.
However, there is work called “the quality of Moses,” which is the Torah. This is the second trouble. That is, when one has been rewarded with spiritual pleasures, there is the trouble that at that time he cannot aim in order to bestow, meaning to decide that if not for the purpose of Mitzva [commandment], he relinquishes the spiritual pleasures. This is harder than relinquishing corporeal pleasures because the greater the pleasure, the harder it is to relinquish it.
This is regarded as the second “I will be,” meaning a second trouble. However, this pertains only to those who learn Torah, called “the quality of Moses.” This is (not) for the whole of Israel to learn, but to learners of Torah, who must know that it is forbidden to receive spiritual pleasures for oneself, as well, but rather only in order to bestow, called Masach [screen] and Aviut [thickness].
The Creator promised Moses that He would deliver them from both the first and second troubles. However, we must know that emerging from the first trouble is mainly emergence from corporeal lusts, and that without it, it is impossible to achieve spiritual pleasures.
This is the allegory in the Midrash, “An Egyptian man saved us from the hands of the shepherds.” That is, the fact that he killed the Egyptian, meaning the first reason, we must also remember, even afterward, when we come to the second state, which is the exile over spiritual pleasures, that we must receive them in order to bestow, and the body disagrees. That is, killing the Egyptian refers to corporeal lusts, called “Egyptian.”
Conversely, the second trouble is the quality of Israel, meaning that he has spiritual pleasures, and yet he is in trouble because he must overcome in order to bestow, and needs the Creator to deliver him also from this trouble.
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