This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
A Glimpse Beyond the Veil
Life can seem very confusing. The struggle to get from one stage to another, even from one day to the next, can seem meaningless. The Torah perspective is that there is indeed deep and beautiful meaning at every step of our lives: but that sense of meaning is often hidden. It is veiled, covered, like a new and exciting invention which is concealed by a large flowing cloth at the beginning of its first public appearance. The crowds are standing there, feeling expectant. The journalists are ready with their poised cameras. Then the veil is drawn aside, and one hears an involuntary gasp from the crowd…
The Kabbalah of Darkness
The ninth of the Ten Plagues to be visited on Egypt was the plague of Darkness: “No person could see his brother, nor could any person rise from his place, for three days; but for the children of Israel, there was light in all their dwellings" (Exodus 10:23).
The physical plague of darkness had its root in a spiritual darkness, which can be defined as the absence of G‑d’s revealed presence. In discussing the spiritual origin of this plague the Midrash cites two opinions: Rabbi Nechemia taught that the darkness originated in the regions of geheinom (purgatory); Rabbi Yehudah taught that it originated in the celestial spheres.
The Warming of Egypt
“G‑d wants the heart” -- Talmud, Sanhedrin 106b.
Three hundred years ago, the Baal Shem Tov used this Talmudic adage to trigger a revolutionary shift in the Jewish psyche. Although you may dedicate your skilled hands, and even your intellectual prowess, don’t neglect to give G‑d a piece of your heart.
When the Baal Shem Tov entered the scene in the early 18th century, much of European Jewry suffered from what we would today call post-traumatic stress. Centuries of persecution and violent anti-Semitism had climaxed in the Chmielnitzki massacres of 1648–9, which wiped out an estimated six hundred thousand Jews and left the Jewish social and economic infrastructure in shambles. Any remaining illusion of stability had been shattered as they watched the Cossacks rampage freely while their neighbors turned a blind eye.