Friday, January 12, 2018

First Blood Then Frogs

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In parshas Vaera we read about the first seven plagues inflicted on Egypt. The purpose of the plagues was not only to punish the Egyptians, but to break their ego and false notions and outlook on G-dliness. The plagues also served as the blows that broke us free from the constraints of Egypt. 

Every story in the Torah is meant to teach us how to serve Hashem better. 

In the Haggadah we read, "In every generation, a person is obligated to see himself, as if he went out of Egypt." Because each of us has a personal Egypt to break free from. Whether it be physical or spiritual constraints, we need to go out of our personal Egypt and we can learn from the plagues how to break out of these constraints. 

There are two types of spiritual constraints. There is when a person finds himself stuck in the physical pleasures of the world, not having any feeling towards holiness and G-dliness. And then there is when someone find himself stagnant in his spiritual growth, because his connection to Hashem is based on his reason and understanding, and therefore, limited. How does one break free from his spiritual Egypt? 

Let us see what we can learn from the first two plagues, blood and frogs. 

In Egypt they worshiped the Nile River, so to break their pride, the first plague hit the waters of the Nile, turning the water into blood. The nature of water, is that it is cold and wet. This was the way of the Egyptians to be cold or apathetic to G-dliness and holiness. It was turned into blood, which is warm and full of life, as it says, "because the blood  is the life force." 

The opposite of holiness is coldness, apathy, because holiness is warm and full of life. As it says in Avos D'rav Nassan, "Ten are called alive," and the first one listed is Hashem, all the others are connected to Him. 

When we are apathetic to G-dliness and holiness, it opens the door to everything that is unholy, and we are stuck in an Egypt. How do we break out of apathy towards holiness? 

On the other hand, Egypt had a great fervor and passion for everything unholy. Meaning that there is also an unholy warmth, when someone has a passion for the physical. 

To cool off their passion, Hashem sent the second plague, frogs. The frogs went everywhere, even in the ovens, and our sages learn from them the idea of self sacrifice. 

You may ask, there were other creatures that came as plagues, there were lice, wild beasts and locust, but they didn't go into the ovens. What is the meaning of the frogs going into the ovens? 

Ovens have fire in them, they symbolize the heat and passion for the physical. Frogs are from the water, cold and wet, but at the same time, they did Hashem's will, to the extent that they went totally against their nature. The cold water creatures went into the fiery ovens and cooled them off. In other words, there is also a holy coldness, when one fosters a coldness towards the physical and the unholy. 

The frogs came to deflate Pharaohs ego, they went into the ovens extinguishing the passion and the false importance of the unholy, that existed in Egypt. 

Holy fervor breaks you free from unholy coldness, and holy coldness breaks you free from passion for the unholy. 

To break free from a spiritual Egypt, one must first take a lesson from the blood and bring life and warmth into holy matters, because the beginning of all kinds of evil comes from coldness. 

It is a mistake to think that just positive action is enough, if you don't bring  warmth and passion into holiness, ultimately you will end up in the unholy. 

This is why the evil inclination tries so hard to cool off your fervor towards holiness, because he knows that trying to get you to do something wrong is futile, but if he could get you to be cold towards holiness, then you will end up doing wrong on your own. 

Just as one needs to bring a warmth and life into holiness, blood, so too, one should foster a coldness towards the unholy, frogs. 

In general, when it comes to doing what Hashem wants, there are two approaches. They are, "refrain from bad," and "doing good." The plague of frogs, coldness towards the unholy, falls in the category of "refraining from bad," and the plague of blood, passion for holiness, falls in the category of "doing good." 

Normally the order is first "refrain from bad," and then "do good." However, here the order is reversed, first blood and then frogs. Why? And what are we meant to learn from this reversal? 

It is true that when it comes to us, refraining from bad comes first. Because we are in the world, so we work from the bottom up. However, when it comes to Hashem, He is coming from the top down. He floods the world with G-dliness, and automatically there is no bad, so the order is reversed, first blood and then frogs. 

Since the Torah tells us this story, that first came the blood and then the frogs, it means that we should take a page from Hashem's play book, doing good first. How does this work? 

Flood your life with warmth and holiness and there won't be room for bad. 

May you and your families be filled with warmth and holiness, and may we break free from our personal Egypt. That will lead to us breaking free from the Egypt we are all suffering from, this dark and bitter exile, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon. 


  1. B"H Dear Rabbi Yitzi.
    Such an honor to meet you... I've just watched your video "Shine a little light" and it's awesome ;) ;-)
    Todah rabah for the beautiful teachings H" is sharing with you...and you're sharing with us! Todah Rabah Dear Rabbi Yitzi. H" will surely keep filling you, your family, and your love ones with blessings, miracles, and lots of love! Todah!Todah rabah ;) Shavua Tob, Jodesh Tob ;)
    Karamel. Bogota, Colombia.

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