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106) “And Abram went down into Egypt to dwell there,” since Egypt is similar to the Garden of the Creator, the Garden of Eden, as it is written, “Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.” It is equal there and one river descends to the right, as it is written, “The name of the first is Pishon.” From the drops that Eden, Hochma, drips to the garden, Malchut, a great river is made, which divides into four heads, HB TM, where the most special of all is Pishon, Hochma, and it is in the land of Egypt. This is why the wisdom of Egypt was greater than the whole world. Also, this is the river that Ezekiel saw in his prophecy, and this is why it is written, “For the whole earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord,” since that water always increases the knowledge in the world.
They are three lines: Hochma, Hesed, and Netzah on the right, Bina, Gevura, and Hod on the left, and Daat, Tifferet, and Yesod in the middle. Thus, Hochma is at the head of the right line, and not the Hochma on the left line, which is Bina that returns to Hochma and the whole of the illumination of Hochma in ZON comes from her, and it is called “gold.” The river Pishon is the Hochma on the right, as it is written, “The name of the first is Pishon; it surrounds the whole of the land of Havilah, where there is gold.” Thus, the river Pishon is the Hochma on the right, and this is why it “Surrounds the whole of the land of Havilah, Bina, where there is gold,” meaning illumination of Hochma on the left.
107) Once Abraham knew and entered in complete faith, which is gold, the Nukva de ZA after she was completed in illumination of Hochma from the side of Bina that returned to Hochma and is called “whole faith”—illumination of Hochma from the left—he now wished to know all the degrees that grip below and can impart from above downwards, which is the Hochma on the right line. And Egypt was traveling from the right, from the river Pishon, the Hochma on the right line. This is the reason why he went down to Egypt, to elicit all the holy sparks from there, from the Hochma on the right side. Afterwards, he returned to the land of Israel and was thus completed with those Mochin de Hochma.
The famine in the land is when the Rachamim depart from the Din, when ZA, Rachamim, departs from the Nukva, Din. This is so because the Zivug of ZON was separated and hunger was made in the Nukva, called Eretz [land]. Such is the way: each time ZON dispense a new degree to the lower ones, they return to their Katnut and their Zivug stops. Thus, how is it possible that the river Pishon, the complete Hochma, will shine in the land of Egypt, the place of Klipot and the nakedness of the land?
However, as it is written, “I shall be filled with her that is laid waste,” the Klipot are built only out of the ruin of the Kedusha [holiness], and vice versa, Kedusha is built only out of the ruin of the Klipot. Hence, because of the sin of the tree of knowledge, these sparks of Hochma from the right side fell into the land of Egypt, as it is written, “Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.” This is why Abraham could not be built in the great Mochin of Hochma of the right until after he collected those sparks from Egypt.
108) “And it came to pass, when he was made to be near Egypt.” It should have said, “When he came near.” However, it is written, “And Pharaoh drew near,” meaning that he brought Israel nearer to repentance. Here, too, “Made to be near” means he brought himself closer to the Creator. To come to Egypt means to observe those degrees in Egypt and to draw far from them and from those who serve Egypt.
There are two discernments here: 1) nearness to Egypt; 2) the act of Egypt. The difference between them is that the act of Egypt is extension of the light of Hochma from above downwards, like the sin of the tree of knowledge. The Kelim and sparks from Hochma, which Adam blemished by his sin in the tree of knowledge, fell into the share of the Egyptians. Hence, they continue with that sin.
However, there is a degree that is close to the act of Egypt and is not the real act of Egypt. He extends illumination of Hochma from above downwards once, to strengthen and to increase the Hassadim that are covered from Hochma. On the one hand, it is like the act of Egypt, for he extends from above downwards, like them. On the other hand, it is the opposite of the act of Egypt because he only strengthens and determines the illumination of Hassadim that are covered from Hochma. Hence, this degree is considered close to Egypt, but not the actual land of Egypt.
“Brought near” means bringing himself closer to the Creator, to the degree of HGT de ZA, which is covered Hassadim. Coming to Egypt means extending illumination of Hochma from above downwards, like the degrees of Egypt, but to draw far from extension of Hochma and to draw far from those who serve Egypt, and to strengthen and establish the illumination of Hassadim that are covered from Hochma, which is on the other extremity from the act of Egypt. The meaning of the words is that he did this to bring himself closer to the Creator. Hence, he brought himself closer to Egypt, to doing as they do, but to draw far from them and nearer to the Creator. This is why the act is regarded as drawing near Egypt, but not arriving to Egypt.
109) Because he descended to Egypt without permission, his sons were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, since it is written, “And Abram went down into Egypt,” but it does not say that the Creator told him, “Go down to Egypt.” This is why he was afflicted all through that night for Sarah.
110) “And he said unto Sarai his wife, ‘Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon.’” Until then, he did not look at Sarah’s form because of the chastity between them. But when he came near Egypt, she appeared and he saw her.
When he brought himself closer and performed an act that was close to the act of the Egyptians, extending illumination from above downwards and giving them to Sarah. Those Mochin are called “Fair to look upon” in relation to her, since looking and seeing imply to Mochin of Hochma. Hence, once he drew near Egypt, it is written, “Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon,” after she received the Mochin from him, through the nearness to Egypt.
This is why it is written that until then he was not looking at Sarah’s form because of the chastity that was between them. Abraham and Sarah were a Merkava [chariot/assembly] the male and female from Chazeh de ZA and above, where Hassadim are covered from Hochma, which is called “looking and seeing.” This is why he did not look at her. However, when he drew near to Egypt and extended the Mochin de Hochma through the proximity of Egypt and imparted upon her, her Hassadim appeared in illumination of Hochma, called “seeing,” hence he saw in her.
111) One is disgraced by the toil of the road. And yet, her beauty persisted and she did not change. This is why he knew more than ever that she was beautiful. Before they reach their goal, the passers by, who walk on the path of the Creator, are in Katnut of Mochin and they are disgraced. Sarah, too, was on the way (and a way of descent, no less), as it is written, “And Abram went down into Egypt,” and especially since the act of extending the Mochin was close to the act of the Egyptians. And yet, the Mochin illuminated in her in complete wholeness. This is why at that time he said, “Behold now, I know” because then he knew more than ever, since he saw Divinity with her, meaning he was rewarded with the revelation of Divinity. This is why Abraham was certain and said, “She is my sister.”
112) The word, “My sister” is explained in two ways: literally, my sister, and as it is written, “Say unto wisdom, ‘You are my sister.’” Here it writes, “Say, I pray thee, you are my sister.” “You” means Divinity, as it is written, “And you [in female form in Hebrew] shall speak unto us,” for there, too, it is Divinity. “That it may be good for me for your sake,” Abraham was speaking for Divinity. “And that my soul may live because of you,” since a man rises on the path of life through Mochin de Hochma, since the light of Hochma is called “light of Haya” [Haya means “alive”].
113) “Say, I pray thee, you are my sister.” Abraham knew that the Egyptians were all lustful. Because he knew it, why was he not afraid for his wife and did not turn back on his way so as to not enter there? He saw that Divinity was with her, and this is why he trusted her and was not afraid.
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