Each week’s Zohar portion is another cosmic opening, a window for us to tap into very specific forces that will help or guide us and broaden our understanding of life and how to live it to its fullest potential.
This week’s portion, Mishpatim, speaks about slaves, and what appears to be the rules of slavery. Why does a slave need rules?
It continues from last week, where we were introduced to the “Ten Commandments”, the revelation at Sinai. All human consciousness was present to receive the cosmic rules that would govern our lives from that day forward, until the end of time. Whether we are aware of it or not, that cosmic revelation exists within all of us deep within our consciousness in our spiritual DNA. It is imprinted in our souls.
It is something that no one can hide from, nor run away from.
Therefore those cosmic rules govern us whether we like it or not or whether we are aware of it or not.
The first of those 10 Commandments is a statement from the Creator which says, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.”
The Zohar says that the secret of this so-called slavery is of course the bondage of our own soul within our body in this world.
Why is this important?
If we do not understand at least some of the principles that the Zohar reveals, life will likely not make any sense to us. It will be difficult and nearly impossible to achieve true happiness and grow to our fullest potential.
One of the key points of the first Commandment and the concept of slavery that the Zohar speaks about is how we relate to each other. We are slaves.
One of our greatest forms of slavery is being slaves to other people. Being a slave to others’ opinions. Being a slave to others' expectations of us. Being a slave to fears and worry. Being a slave to the love of others. Being a slave to our guilty feelings. Being a slave to our past. Being a slave of our environment.
Being a slave to our physical pleasures and the materialistic aspects of this world.
By no coincidence, the second Commandment comes along and says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
What's the connection?
The moment we agree to be a slave to someone or something, like an emotion for example, at that moment we stop our process. We give over our power to something or someone else and allow it to control us.
And presto! We now have created another God. Welcome to the world of idol worship!
Anger is a good example. It takes over and we are no longer in control. The Zohar states that anger is one of the worst forms of idol worship.
Therefore, what the Torah and the kabbalists were trying to tell us is that everything is connected. The moment we agree – and it is a decision that we make either consciously or unwittingly – that we choose to be subjugated by another power, it is then as though we receive our sustenance from that source. That person feeds us. Not the Creator.
The result? We will find ourselves unhappy, and unfulfilled, limited and disconnected. Even if in the short term we enjoy it.
Somewhere along the line we must come to realize that our work in life is really only with the Creator, the source. That is our only work. However, we make the mistake of putting too much emphasis and energy and importance in the external: what he said, what she said, how could they... Unfortunately we judge the illusion and waste all of our energy. We spend way too much time thinking and rethinking everything to death rather than doing the action that is necessary to move forward.
It's like getting out of bed in the morning when the alarm goes off. The action should be to get up right away. But the moment we begin to think about it, we hit the snooze and lay there for another half hour, thinking about everything in the world. By doing so, we lose the energy to get out of bed – to do the action that we need to do. When we spend too much time thinking, we rob ourselves of the energy that was meant to be used to do something. Instead, we think, and that energy goes to the other side. We need to remember that this is called the world of action. And our job is to act. Not to sit and think. Unless, of course, we are thinking about what we should do. That kind of thinking is okay.
It's all a type of slavery that we choose, and all of our slavery is connected. Our slavery to family members, friends and business associates, are all connected with each other. The most obvious form of slavery is our own reactions to life. Obviously if we were in control of ourselves, and we were the masters of ourselves, we would never react. But unfortunately, in most cases we lack the strength or the wisdom not to be the robot slave.
So how do we begin our transformation out of slavery into freedom?
This, of course, is the entire Passover story. It is what most of our spiritual work is about. In addition, we are told that every day we must think and remember that the Creator brought us out of Egypt and out of bondage.
The goal in remembering this at least once each day is to help re-awaken that chip in our consciousness, and to begin to make conscious and aware decisions in our interactions in daily life.
Even if we just stop for a moment and ask, “Who is in control of my mind at this moment?” We may be surprised.
The person who appears to have the most freedom sometimes is the greatest slave. The one who says I want to be free and do whatever I want to do, when I want to do it is nothing more than a slave of his own selfish desire and ego.
The one who is put in prison or chooses a difficult challenge may have the greatest opportunity to be free.
Freedom is a choice of how we choose to think about any particular situation; to choose to react, or to choose to connect with the Creator in that moment. No one has control over our minds. Therefore, our slavery is really a decision that we make based on our own hidden agendas; how it serves us at whatever level. Hence, one of the great keys to personal freedom is the willingness to let go. The moment we have the certainty that whatever happens, and wherever it comes from, is from the Creator and is the best thing for us, we become free.
That certainty is one of the greatest tools in our personal battle against the dark forces that try to keep us in slavery.
This week’s reading and Zohar potion has the power to help free us. To free our minds. But we must remember one thing: If we truly want to be free people – free of the shackles and limitations of this world and other people – we truly need to desire to submit and subject ourselves to be in the service of the Light. In our service to others, we are serving the Creator.
It's one or the other.
It's our choice.