Sanctify to Me Every Firstborn

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197) “Sanctify to Me every firstborn.” This commandment is to sanctify every firstborn of cattle. The ignorant needs two things: 1) to be redeemed from under the government of the evil inclination, which is its master. It is similar to what Jacob said to Esau, “Let my lord pass on before his servant,” in this world. He is a master from the perspective of the many transgressions on the body. As we explained, the wicked is judged by the evil inclination, the righteous is judged by the good inclination, and the intermediate is judged by both. Intermediate is a brother to the evil inclination and a brother to the good inclination, as it is written, “my brother; let what you have be yours.”

198) When merits are plentiful, the wind breaks the two shifts of the night—which are a braying ass, yelling dogs—and rises to the third shift of the dawn where there is man, meaning a woman speaking with her husband. And man returns to being master over all creations, as it is written, “And I have oxen, and asses and flocks, and men-servants and maid-servants,” and he rises to the degree of man, of whom it is said, “And have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air… And the fear of you and the dread of you.” This is the second thing that the ignorant must achieve.

199) And when the merits are intermediate, “And a man wrestled with him.” This means that the merits and transgressions struggle and wage war. From the side of the merits, it is written, “He saw that he had not prevailed against him.” From the side of transgressions, it is written, “He touched the socket of his thigh in the sinew of the hip.” The word Nashe [hip] comes from the verse, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” [in Hebrew Nashani means made me forget]. It comes from the word Neshia [oblivion], which is one section of these seven countries. And one who goes down there forgets the Torah.

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