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When Moses comes to the Israelites in the portion Va’era, he tells them they have gone through hundreds of years of pain, suffering, and death, and there's a way out - a shift in their consciousness. He says to them, “If you can, in this moment, accept, desire, and work towards a constant, conscious connection to the Light of the Creator, all this will end. All this pain, suffering, and darkness has to end, because no harm can come to an individual whose consciousness is constantly connected to the Light to the Creator. This day, you can decide to shift your consciousness, and Pharaoh and the Egyptians will no longer do you any harm.”
And had the Israelites been able to accept this work of consciousness, nothing further would have had to happen. There would not have been ten plagues. There would be no more darkness. There would be no more pain. But it says they did not listen to Moses, and that their “spirit was short.” Their connection was not strong enough to do this work of consciousness.
What does that mean? Kabbalists speak about these few weeks, beginning from last week, called the time of Shovavim, which is a time of purification, especially as it relates to sexual matters, but in general, these are weeks when individuals can truly purify themselves. And it sounds so easy, right? All I have to do, no matter what is happening, is have the consciousness that the Light of the Creator is here, and I'm connected to It. But you know what? The ability to do that is dependent on the strength of one's soul. If an individual, throughout his or her life, has done actions of desire to receive for the self alone, negativity, and darkness, then no matter how much he might want to have this consciousness, he can't.
So, the Israelites tell Moses, and we know this is not a physical conversation, but a spiritual one, “We have to be honest with ourselves, and with you, about how much damage we have done to our souls through our actions of negativity and desire to receive for the self alone. We're at a state where our souls cannot give us that strength of consciousness.” And, therefore, it wasn't that the Israelites said they didn’t want to. They wanted to, but knew they couldn’t. It says their spirit was short, meaning their ability to maintain consciousness was weak because of their actions of desire to receive for the self alone.
Moses says, “Okay, I understand. You're not there yet. You can't have this consciousness. We'll take the other path, the longer path, the path that is not the one of changed consciousness, and will have more darkness and pain; we’ll have the ten plagues.” Therefore, the entire purpose of the ten plagues and the rest of the pain, suffering, and darkness that went on in Egypt was to give the Israelites the strength to get to that consciousness. Because Redemption, and the removal of darkness, pain, and suffering, cannot happen any other way.
The purpose of each one of the ten plagues was to remove some darkness from the souls of each of the Israelites and give them the ability to have the consciousness that we spoke about. And through the ten plagues and the darkness of Egypt, the Israelites came to the ability. What happened at the end of the tenth plague? The Israelites were purified enough so they could have true, constant consciousness and connection to the Light to the Creator, and, as such, the Egyptians had to let them go, because once someone gets to that state of consciousness, no negativity can touch them. So, Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and Negativity had no choice; they could not touch the Israelites anymore.
Therefore, before telling us about the plagues, the Torah wants to tell us why they were necessary. Their only purpose was to get the Israelites to a state of consciousness where they were constantly connected to the Light of the Creator, and the Egyptians had to let them out.
The process of the ten plagues had to occur, and the purpose of the purification of these weeks that we're in called Shovavim is to be able to give us the ability to have consciousness. The purpose of these weeks is to remove that baggage, not just to be pure, but to be able to get to a state where we can have true consciousness.
We also have to ask ourselves if we can maintain that consciousness. The answer for most of us is no, and the reason why is because of all the dark baggage that still exists with us. Therefore, we need to be aware why we want to purify ourselves and remove all the negativity that we’ve brought upon ourselves from the desire to receive for the self alone. It is not because we want to be a spiritual person, but because if we want to achieve, as we said, the protection that comes from a constant, conscious connection to the Light of the Creator, we can’t get there while we still have this baggage. And this is the Light that shines during these weeks.
We ask that during these weeks, because of all the negative things we've done previously, that like the Israelites, we also become purified, so that we can come to that state of consciousness, of constant connection to the Light of the Creator, and then get to a state where no negativity can touch us. It's a very important understanding and gift that's available to us during these weeks.