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Egypt: A Big Nut To Crack
by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

During the time when the Jews were enslaved to Pharaoh, there was a tremendous amount of hidden good, holy energies trapped within the borders of Egypt. After Egypt had been demolished by the Ten Plagues, the Jews finally made their way out. Egypt was left broken and gutted, void of anything of value, as the Sages say, “like the deep waters where there are no fish,” for the Jewish people took with them an incredible amount of wealth, an abundance of good things to be used for a good and holy purpose (such as the building of the Sanctuary). With the Ten Plagues, G-d shattered Egypt, rendering its energies openly accessible to the Jewish people.

The first of the Ten Plagues the Alm-ghty brought upon Egypt was the Plague of Blood – G-d turned the water of the Nile into blood. This plague, of course, was no mere illusion; it was a real threat to the Egyptians, as the Nile was their primary source of drinking water and irrigation. In fact, to the Egyptians, the attack on the Nile was an attack on their very being, for they saw the Nile as their source of life – to the point that they actually worshipped it. In order to make it very clear who is the true Source of Life, G-d hit them with the Plague of Blood.

As the Torah is no mere storybook, but a guide to teach us how to live our lives, we must understand what we are meant to learn from this story, from the fact that G-d first struck out at the waters of the Nile with the Plague of Blood.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, King Moshiach, explains that the waters of the Nile represent coldness, as water is a cold substance by nature. And coldness is opposed to things that are holy, because holiness is the source of life and vitality, the source of warmth. The fact that the Egyptians were caught up in the worship of the Nile tells us that they were likewise caught up in a state of coldness and indifference towards all that is holy.

To punish the Egyptians, G-d turned the water of the Nile into blood, the symbol of life, as it is written, “Blood is the spirit.” From this we learn that a Jew must strive to transform coldness and spiritual indifference into a vibrant state of warmth and life.

The Evil Inclination puts all of its effort into cooling a Jew off, G-d forbid, turning him off of G-dliness and on to foolishness. To fend off this attack, we must not get tangled in a debate with the Evil Inclination – for when you wrestle with a dirty guy, you are bound to get yourself messed up, as well. Rather, we must counter with the same artillery used against Egypt: warming ourselves up to matters of holiness. We must take our belief in Moshiach – that any second the long-awaited Messianic King will come and lead us to the true and complete Redemption – and be bold enough to share this with a friend. Moshiach now!

[Based on Likkutei Sichos, vol. 1; p. 121, 124]


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