Rav Itamar Schwartz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh
Download a number of amazing Drashos on Personal Redemption
Download a number of amazing Drashos on Pesach
Exile of Our Daas
The Egyptian exile was an exile of our Daâ€™as (our mind). We learn this from what Hashem told Avraham Avinu, that â€œyou will surely know (â€œyodua teidaâ€) that your offspring will be foreigners in a land that is not theirsâ€¦â€
The Egyptian exile was an exile of our daâ€™as, and its redemption was a redemption to our daâ€™as. From the double usage of the word daâ€™as in the possuk (yodua teida) we learn that there are two kinds of exiles that both involve an exile of our daâ€™as. Let us reflect what these two kinds of daâ€™as are.
The Baal Shem Tov explains that these two kinds of daâ€™as are a â€œmasculineâ€ kind of daâ€™as and a â€œfeminineâ€ kind of daâ€™as. The redemption from Egypt was a feminine kind of daâ€™as, and the future redemption will be a masculine kind of daâ€™as. What does he mean?
We can understand the Baal Shemâ€™s statement as follows. Each individual has two components: feelings and vision. (An example of â€œvisionâ€ is that a person is obligated on the night of Pesach to see himself leaving Egyptâ€).
The feminine kind of daâ€™as is â€œfeelingsâ€, and the masculine kind of daâ€™as is â€œvisionâ€. Egypt was an exile of our feelings â€“ our feminine aspect of daâ€™as. Its redemption was a redemption as well of our feminine daâ€™as. But the future redemption will involve our masculine kind of daâ€™as, which is our vision. â€œFor with an eye and an eye we will see the return of Hashem to Zion.â€
It is well-known that the final redemption is also contained in the first redemption. The redemption from Egypt is the root of the final redemption.
We must know what these two different kinds of redemption are in our soul.
Our Mind Is Still In Exile
There are two â€œkingsâ€ that reside in a person: the mind and the heart. The mindâ€™s vision is limited and we need to learn how to expand it.
The Zohar always uses an expression of ta chazi, â€œcome and seeâ€, while the Gemara always uses an expression of ta shema, â€œcome and hear.â€ When a person hears, he hears the feelings, but when a person sees, he doesnâ€™t use his feelings, just his limited vision. The abilities of feeling and vision are two distinct forces in the soul, and each of them need to be removed from whatâ€™s blocking them. Our mindâ€™s vision is prevented by being too narrow-sighted, while our heartâ€™s feelings can be stuffed with timtum halev (spiritual â€œblockageâ€).
In the Egyptian exile, our heart was in exile. There was a redemption to this, so our feelings. But our mind still hasnâ€™t been totally redeemed. Our feelings of the soul, such as ahavah (love), yirah (fear), hispaarus (pride), etc. were redeemed in Egypt, but our mindâ€™s vision â€“ in other words, our inner vision, the ability to see holiness â€“ is still concealed in this exile.
The avodah of the Egyptian exile was to recognize Hashemâ€™s goodness and to come to have feelings for Him, such as love and fear of Hashem. But what is the avodah of the final exile?
We must expand our minds in order to know this.
The Secret of The Redemption: Unity
The Arizal explains that the night of Pesach is a time of â€œgadlus hamochinâ€ (a higher state of mind). What is the higher state of mind, and what is the lower state of mind?
Simply speaking, it means that sometimes our mind is more or less clear. But the more truthful outlook is that gadlus hamochin is a straight way of thinking â€“ â€œG-d made man uprightâ€ (Koheles 7:29) â€“ it is a straight kind of vision, and in it lies a personâ€™s mind.
In the redemption of Egypt, anyone who didnâ€™t merit to leave Egypt perished. The wicked perished in the plague of darkness. Everyone else who left Egypt left as one collective unit â€“ there was achdus (unity) of the entire nation at the redemption. At this redemption, the entire Jewish people were united to follow Hashem into the desert, experience the splitting of the sea and the giving of the Torah. At all of these events, all 600,000 souls of the Jewish people were all present.
The inner way to look at reality is to see everything as one. From an inner perspective, a person sees how many details are really all one collective unit. The secret that brings redemption is unity in one unit. For example, the entire Jewish people in Egypt did not change their names, language, or dress.
Thus, the redemption is all about achdus â€“ unity. There is a redemption that will take place to the Jewish people as a whole. There is also a personal redemption to each person that will take place, a redemption to each personâ€™s soul. This is to redeem our mind. To redeem our mind, we must acquire an inner perspective on things â€“ a perspective of achdus, to be able to see how many details connect and are all one.
Before, we mentioned that we have two different component in us: feelings, which are in our heart, and our vision, which is in our mind. Our mind, which is otherwise known as the masculine kind of daas, has an advantage over the heart in that it can see how many details connect as one. Our mind is capable of seeing achdus.
The second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam (baseless hatred). The future redemption will be the opposite of this; it will be a unity of the world. The secret of the redemption is achdus.
The secret to the redemption when a person acquires this inner perspective â€“ the way to see unity in many details.
The secret to the current exile is contained in the Egyptian exile. By understanding what the Egyptian exile was, we can learn about our own redemption from the current exile, because the root of all redemption is the redemption from Egypt.
What Is This Unity?
What is this secret of â€œachdusâ€ of the final redemption, which is contained in the Egyptian exile?
We say in the Haggaddah, â€œAnd G-d took us out of Egypt, not through an angel or through a seraph or through a messenger, but G-d Himself, in His Honor.â€
There is a concept that everything which takes place in the world also takes place in time, and everything that takes place in time also takes place in our soul. In our own soul, there can be a redemption by Hashem Himself.
On the night of Pesach, there is a revelation of G-dliness in every personâ€™s soul! â€œNot through an angel or a seraph or a messenger, but G-d himself.â€ As long as a person doesnâ€™t block this revelation from happening, it becomes revealed in oneâ€™s soul on the night of Pesach: a personal redemption that takes place in the soul.
When a person still has an egotistical â€œIâ€, he is separate from others. But when there is a revelation of G-dliness in the soul, a secret of â€œonenessâ€ (rozo dâ€™echad) is revealed in the soul.
If a person looks at another person according to the otherâ€™s opinions about life, then he is apart from others. Chazal say that â€œJust like all faces are different, so are all minds different.â€ But when a person looks at another personâ€™s soul with a deep perspective, he sees G-dliness in another Jewâ€™s soul. He sees â€œHashem Himselfâ€ that resides in the deepest point in every Jewâ€™s soul. (This deepest point is the called â€œYechidahâ€.) When a person has this perspective, he has an outlook of achdus toward every Jew and he unifies every soul into one unit.
This revelation that takes place in the soul on the night of Pesach is the root of the future redemption.
Thus, on the night of Pesach we have an additional form of avodah. Besides the well-known avodah of connecting ourselves to â€œleaving Egypt nowâ€, we must also reveal the root of the future redemption. We must recognize what the redemption is and connect to it.
The Root of The Future Redemption â€“ Nullifying Your Ego
The power of the future redemption is essentially the ability to leave the selfish â€œIâ€ in a person. As long as a person is still egotistical, there is a divide between a person and Hashem. When a person still has his ego, he has only his daas, and each personâ€™s daas is different. This is the depth of Chazal that â€œJust as all faces are different, so are all minds different.â€ A personâ€™s self-absorption prevents the revelation of achdus.
We need to acquire the higher daas. This is called â€œKeil deâ€™os (G-d of knowledgeâ€, an expression used by the Rambam). This is not regular daas of a person; it is a higher kind of daas that is hidden from us. It is the kind of daas which unifies the many varying opinions of people, the many different kind of daas that everyone has.
In the redemption from Egypt, even though it was a redemption of our daas, it was only a redemption of each personâ€™s private daas. We are still different from one another, because we each have our own opinions. It wasnâ€™t yet a total redemption.
There are two ways how we can see this. First of all, Moshe Rabbeinu was afraid that the people wouldnâ€™t be worthy of being redeemed, because of the wicked individuals present. This was already a lapse in the unity of the Jewish people. In addition to this, even when they were redeemed, the Erev Rav (â€œMixed Multitudeâ€, Egyptian non-Jews who escaped Egypt together with the Jewish people) came with them, which affected the unity of the Jewish people.
The future redemption, though, will be a total redemption of our daas. It will be nullification of our daas and in its place a revelation of the higher Daas, the Daas of the Creator. The revelation of Hashem by the redemption will be a revelation of the achdus of the Jewish people.
Thus we have two missions on Pesach: we must feel as if we are leaving Egypt now, to receive a new vitality in our feelings. But this isnâ€™t enough. Even with renewed feelings, our perspective can still be very limited. Feelings without a developed mind can be imbalanced. Feelings arenâ€™t everything. Some people are so zealous that they go overboard with their zealousness. We must realize that our feelings are only a garment on our soul. Feelings arenâ€™t everything, and we shouldnâ€™t get caught up in them â€“ they need to be fused with an expanded mind.
For example, the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael really applies to wicked people as well. One of the four sons is a wicked son; we must still love him as a son, even though he is wicked. In the future redemption, all the dispersed members of our people will be gathered together, even the wicked members. Although in Egypt, â€œhad the wicked son been there, he wouldnâ€™t have been redeemedâ€, still, in the future redemption, which is a more complete redemption, the wicked will be included.
This kind of feeling is a feeling expanded by the mind. This is the gadlus hamochin contained in Pesach.
â€œNow we are slaves, Next Year we will be freeâ€
We need both kinds of redemption: the past redemption of Egypt (which we already experienced), and the future redemption. These are two different kinds of redemption.
The previous redemption, the redemption from Egypt, is a light that we must return to each year on Pesach. The future redemption is something else: we must draw it closer to us and extend it upon us even now.
In the beginning of the Hagaddah, we say â€œNow we are slaves, Next year we will be free.â€ These are the beginning words of the Hagaddah, and they are the preface to what occurs on the night of Pesach.
In these words we mention two things. We mention the â€œbread of sufferingâ€ which our ancestors ate in Egypt, yet we also mention the future redemption â€“ â€œNext year we will be free.â€ This is not just a yearning for the redemption (which is also a wonderful thing to aspire to), but it is a connection to the redemption.
If we only consider the light of the redemption to be a thing of the past, then the purpose of the festival remains concealed.
The redemption hasnâ€™t yet come. Thus, the avodah we have on this Pesach is to awaken in us the inner meaning of the redemption â€“ the higher aspect of the redemption, not the lower aspect of the redemption. We need both aspects. The point is that we need the higher aspect of the redemption as well.
Inspiration Lasts Only If We Expand Our Mind
Upon understanding these words, we can look at the inner depth of the avodah upon us, in a new light. There is a deep point hidden here.
Every year, the holy Jewish people want to be awakened and inspired. People hear inspiring lectures â€“ each to his own. Everyone wants to awaken in his soul a feel for the holiness of the Yom Tov. But we must know that many times we just have â€œinspirationâ€ (hisorerus) and after some time, our inspiration wanes and we just go back to â€œusualâ€.
What is the mistake that people are making? It has to do with what we have been saying until now: feelings, without the mind to guide them, are only half the equation. Even if we redeem our â€œfeelingsâ€ and we are full of renewed feelings for holiness, without expanding our mind the feelings wonâ€™t last. Itâ€™s only â€œhalfâ€ the redemption.
If all we do is open up our feelings, without expanding our mind â€“ then we only have the first kind of redemption, a redemption from Egypt. We will be missing our current redemption.
With just feelings and no mind, the inspiration we get doesnâ€™t last. We will be able to connect to the redemption from Egypt with our renewed feelings of love and fear of Hashem, but after that our inspiration will go away, and we will just be left with the remaining exiles that came after Egyptâ€¦.
In order for our inspiration to last, we need an expanded mind. On the night of Pesach, one is obligated to â€œseeâ€ himself as if heâ€™s leaving Egypt. What does it mean to â€œseeâ€ yourself leaving Egypt? Are we supposed to become deluded by our imagination?!
We can understand that all our souls were there one time in Egypt, but why must we see ourselves actually leaving Egypt now?
We need to be able to â€œseeâ€ since the other part of our redemption is to redeem our power of vision in the mind.
This halachah, that one must see himself leaving Egypt, contains the higher aspect of the redemption: to redeem oneâ€™s vision of the mind.
The depth of this is that if a person hasnâ€™t nullified his ego and he doesnâ€™t integrate himself with the Jewish people, then he doesnâ€™t know how to â€œsee.â€ He doesnâ€™t have a vision of achdus. His redemption has nothing to do with Hashem â€“ itâ€™s all about redeeming himself. When a person remains absorbed in himself, he might have wonderful feelings for Avodas Hashem, but he actually might be on a very lowly level. Reb Yisrael Salanterâ€™s words are famous â€“ a person can be so afraid of the yom hadin (day of judgment), yet he damages others when they see a scowl on his face.
When a person only seeks to have great feelings in avodas Hashem, it doesnâ€™t mean yet that he is pure. Itâ€™s possible that he is self-absorbed in himself as he seeks to gain high levels in avodas Hashem. He is so self-absorbed in his personal growth that he doesnâ€™t even see any person next to him! Even when such a person relates the story of the exodus to his household, heâ€™s wrapped up in his own self as he seeks higher levels to attain. Such a person is sorely mistaken in the purpose of the festival.
When a person doesnâ€™t realize that the main part of the redemption is to be redeemed from oneâ€™s selfish ego, he is missing the whole redemption. He might love and fear Hashem and have all the great feelings that one can reach, but itâ€™s all another way of being self-absorbed. This is not a true redemption.
The true redemption to have on Pesach is when one nullifies his self and integrates into the Jewish people, as a part of a whole.
When one considers the redemption of Pesach to be about himself, he only redeems â€œhimself.â€ We cannot call this a redemption. The purpose of the redemption is that all should recognize Hashem; it is about revealing Hashem, not about revealing oneâ€™s â€œI.â€
The way to redeem yourself on Pesach is actually by nullifying yourself. When a person is locked up in a jail, he desires to escape it â€“ he wants his â€œIâ€ to escape. His escape from it will just be all about how he worries for himself. But the depth to the redemption is to leave your very self and forget about yourself.
This is really the depth of Ahavas Yisrael, which is the secret of the final redemption. Ahavas Yisrael is really when your soul has a redemption â€“ when you leave yourself!! In other words, there is a kind of personal redemption in which you leave your inner imprisonment, and then there is another kind of redemption â€“ when you leave your â€œIâ€. This is when you leave your ego for the sake of integrating with the rest of the Jewish people.
Thus, the beginning of redemption is to redeem our feelings. We need to first leave the materialism â€“ the â€œbricks and mortarâ€ â€“ and enter the world of spirituality. The second part of our redemption, which is the purpose, is to reach our masculine kind of daas â€“ the revelation of unity on the world; in other words, to nullify your â€œI.â€
Hashem should merit all of the Jewish people that we all integrate with each other and from there, to integrate in unison with the Creator, who is really the only One who exists.