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The Secret of the Burning Bush

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:December 30, 2015

In the portion of Shemot, we come to the famous story of Moses and what is called the burning bush. There is a discussion amongst the commentators and kabbalists about not only what exactly the burning bush was, but more importantly, what consciousness the Creator was awakening within Moses, and that we, therefore, want to learn; what is the consciousness that we want to awaken within us in order to bring the Final Redemption?

Moses sees fire on the bush of thorns, the burning bush, and says, “I want to see a hamare haGadol haze, ‘great vision.’” Why does he call it “a great vision?” What is so amazing about what Moses is being shown?

To understand this, there's a teaching from the great kabbalist, the Maharal of Prague. It says that whenever you find the greatness of the Light of the Creator, you also find the humility of the Light of the Creator. That's the statement we have to understand. And the Maharal of Prague explains that the greatness of the Light of the Creator is that it is existent even with the lowest. And the secret of the burning thorns, therefore, is that Moses was actually being shown something that probably all of us have some level of understanding, but that none of us have as a real consciousness. Most people believe that when a person is low – like at the lowest point where the Israelites were then - there is a diminishment of the existence of the Light of the Creator in that individual.

But, no. The Creator comes to Moses and says the Israelites in Egypt don't know or have the certainty that His Light rests upon them even in their lowest state. And the Israelites, as the Zohar tells us, were in the lowest 49th gate of negativity. They believed that in this lowest state the Light of the Creator exists with them less than It does when they are in the highest state. But the Creator comes to Moses and tells him that as long as the Israelites believe that, and until even Moses himself strengthens his certainty about it, the Final Redemption can't occur. Moses had to shift his consciousness about this simple teaching; the Light of the Creator exists in the lowest places as powerfully as it exists in the highest places, and with the lowest person just as it exists with the highest person.

Therefore, the Creator brings Moses an example. He says, look, a miracle is happening not in this huge, beautiful tree, but on the thorns. Why? Because thorns are the lowest, most insignificant, ugliest part of the vegetable kingdom. Moses needed to strengthen his certainty that even in this lowest state the Light of the Creator exists as it does in the highest state.

That is the secret of the burning thorns. The Creator comes to Moses and tells him he has to awaken this certainty and go back to the Israelites and awaken their certainty, because they've come to believe that the Light of the Creator doesn't exist where they are now. That where they are now is too low, far, and dark for the Light of the Creator to exist. But the Creator says, “No. Moses, first you need to be reminded, and then you need to go back and remind them.”

Where do we find the greatest Light? In the lowest places. The Light of the Creator is there for the lowest, as it is for the highest. The Creator wanted Moses to let the Israelites know that yes, even though they are in the 49th gate of negativity, the Light of the Creator is there for them as It is for the highest, most elevated souls; unless the Israelites know that, the Redemption can't occur. And that's why Moses says, “This is a great revelation!” Because he means that it is the revelation that the greatness of the Light of the Creator exists even in the lowest, even in the thorns, even in the Israelites who are now in the 49th gate of negativity. The Israelites need to be able to shift their consciousness to this understanding that yes, even where they are now in the lowest state, the Light of the Creator is with them. Even in the difficulty, even in the challenges, even in the 49th gate.

Most of us don't believe that. And this may be one of the most important switches that has to occur for us. We think that as a person elevates in his spiritual state, the Light exists more and that when a person goes down, the Light exists less; if a person believes that, if a person has that consciousness, it becomes true for him or her. So for the Israelites, as long as they believed that when they were in the 49th gate of impurity the Light of the Creator had diminished, the Redemption can't occur for them.

Therefore, Moses, who was the righteous and the leader of that generation, had to shift his consciousness and then go back to the Israelites and awaken it for them. Through this consciousness becoming strong within him, Moses was then able to awaken the Redemption.

And now we understand the story of the burning thorns on a deeper level; this was the work of consciousness. First, certainty has to be awakened in order for the Final Redemption to occur. Then there is a second level of consciousness that has to shift in order for the Redemption to occur. The Israelites had the consciousness that the Light of the Creator doesn’t reside where they exist in the low state of the 49th gate of negativity. But Moses had to change his consciousness about this, so the Creator showed Moses that His Light was being revealed in the thorns, which are the lowest, and not in some beautiful tree. Why? Because the Creator needed to awaken within Moses this clarity, certainty, and consciousness that the Light of the Creator exists in the lowest state as it does in the highest state.

The burning thorns were not simply a story, a revelation, or prophecy for Moses. It was work. First, the Creator says to him, “Moses! Shift your consciousness. Even in the lowest state, the Light of the Creator exists as completely as it exists in the highest state.” And once Moses is awakened to this consciousness, the Creator says, “Okay, now, we can begin the process of the Redemption. And you have to go to the Israelites and let them know that even in their lowest state, the Light of the Creator exists completely… and then the Final Redemption can begin to occur. “

This is true for all of us as well. We have to know that the same Light that was revealed to Rav Shimon Bar Yochai and to the greatest souls who ever lived is with us right now, no matter how low we are and no matter what state we are in. And we cannot be conduits, we cannot bring the Final Redemption, unless we have that certainty. The level of consciousness that had to shift for the Israelites and that has to shift for us in order to bring the Final Redemption is this understanding that even in the lowest state, the Light of the Creator is with us. And if we know that, then we are able to reveal it, and we are able to be conduits for the Light of the Final Redemption.

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