Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:December 17, 2014
The portion Miketz begins with the word vayehi, which represents something negative, but this portion is talking about a positive occurrence, which is Joseph coming out of jail. So, what is negative about it? The Ari, Rav Isaac Luria, explains that Pharaoh represents the Negative Side, and in this week’s portion he receives a level of prophecy. Prophecy is an elevated level of connection to the Light of the Creator, and as we know, Pharaoh represents the Negative Side… so, how could Pharaoh merit prophecy?
To answer this we have to begin with an understanding that Rav Berg would talk about all the time. In Hebrew, the word averah is mistakenly translated as “sin” or “transgression.” However, averah comes from the word “to give over,” as in he or she “gives over” his Light to the Negative Side; every time we act in a negative way we are giving our Light over to the Negative Side. Every lack, every pain, every sadness that we have in our life comes from the energy that we have given over to the Negative Side.
The only way the Negative Side can have control over us is through the Light and energy that we have given it; through the averah, the transference of our energy, the Negative Side is able to control us and give us darkness, lack, pain, and sadness.
Therefore, if a person is able to take away all that Light that he or she has given over to the Negative Side, then there is no more lack, sadness, or pain anymore, ever. And so to the degree that a person is able to take back all the energy he gave over to the Negative Side is to the degree that he can remove all the pain, lack, and sadness from his or her life. How do we take back that Light? The kabbalists use a parable to explain:
There was a blacksmith who saw camels carrying endless amounts of linens coming towards him. The blacksmith had a very small shop and had no idea what he was going to do, because he couldn’t possibly fit all of that linen into it. A wise man told the blacksmith that just one little spark from his hammering will light up the linen and destroy it all in an instant.
There is only one source of darkness, pain, and lack in our lives, and that is what we have given over. In order to remove that darkness and pain, we have to take it all back. But that process is much easier than we think it is; like the parable says, one spark of Light can finish all of that darkness off in an instant.
It all has to do with our consciousness; if we think that we have to battle to take back every single spark that we’ve given over, we will never do it. We have to remember, like the parable, that one spark will finish all the linen. One spark will take back all the Light that you have given over to the Negative Side. That is the secret of this week’s portion. It’s also the secret of Chanukah.
Without going into the details, Joseph fell slightly both when the wife of Potiphar tried to seduce him, and when he put his certainty in the wine steward. Because he did what we now understand is called averot, he gave over that energy to the Negative Side, and that’s what kept him in jail and what gave Pharaoh the power of prophecy. Therefore, the reason this week’s portion begins with the word vayehi, which represents darkness or negativity, is because it is talking about a moment in time when Joseph was in jail – not physical jail, but spiritual jail – and, as such, Pharaoh had dominion because Joseph had given his power over to Pharaoh.
However, when Pharaoh receives the prophecy because of Joseph’s giving over of the averot to the Negative Side, this is also the moment when Joseph takes his power back. Pharaoh says, “I've given you control of all of Egypt.” Egypt represents the Negative Side; therefore, Joseph has taken back all the negativity, all the energy that he has given to Pharaoh, to the Negative Side. And so it says that Joseph is the controller.
One of the greatest gifts of this Shabbat and of Chanukah is taking back control. What is the story of Chanukah? Great miracles happen; we connect to the energy of a small vial of oil that only had enough for one day but lit for eight. That understanding that you only need a little spark to take back all of the power that you’ve given to the Negative Side is one of the gifts of this week’s portion.
A unique thing about Chanukah is that during almost every other connection, certainly such as Pesach or Sukkot, there’s a lot to do. But on Chanukah you do almost nothing – you just light the candle. In fact, the kabbalists teach that if it goes out, you don’t have to light it again! There’s no more simple or less time and effort investment than Chanukah.
So, to connect to this, we have to begin with the understanding that darkness comes from the Light we’ve given over. And then, we have to understand that to get it back we just need one spark. If Joseph had to fight for all the Light that he had given over, it would have taken forever. But instead, he came to the understanding that you only need one spark of Light to burn up all the forces of Negativity and bring back all the energy that you have given over to the Negative Side. Once Joseph came to that consciousness, to that understanding, he took back control.
One of the great secrets of this week’s portion and of Chanukah is that you need very little. Of course, first you have to start with clarity that the only reason you don’t have control in your life, the only reason you have pain, suffering, darkness, or lack in your life is not because of anybody else, or because of God. It is only for one reason: because of your averot, because of the Light and energy you have given over to the Negative Side. If you don’t have that clarity, the next step - which is the understanding that all you need is one little spark to burn up all of the Negative Side - can’t come.
In fact, through lighting the Chanukiah on Chanukah, we can burn up and receive back all the Light that we have given over to the Negative Side. Therefore, this has to be our consciousness and meditation. If we needed to fight to get it all back, if we needed to earn it all back, it would take us endless lifetimes, but on this Shabbat, and on Chanukah, we are given both the consciousness and power to do it. This is something we can’t receive any other time of the year.
On this Shabbat and during Chanukah, we can take back control. If we have this consciousness and make these connections, we can get our Light back. It’s not work that we have do; it is, instead, actually an incredibly tremendous gift we are given.