Question: Why are Egyptian plagues necessary if a person has already chosen the spiritual path?
Answer: Are you sure he has? In an instant, he will be attracted by something else. Is it possible to rely on one’s desire? With only a slight push, without thought, he will begin chasing new bait.
Our sages say: “Do not trust yourself until the day you die.” Do not trust yourself until you have undergone the ten Egyptian plagues and decided that you must get out of Egypt. Do not trust until the Pharaoh within you will not hear: “Let My people go so they may serve Me!” Do not trust until you have risen above your desire.
Until then, a person is a machine controlled by the desire from within and by the pleasure outside. From the description of the Torah, we see how much one has to go through.
In the beginning, Jacob’s sons resist Joseph, who collects (Osef) them together for a special job. In Egypt, seven years of plenty give way to seven years of famine. Then the Pharaoh’s oppression begins, followed by plagues, that is, disasters running over egoism. Only then does a person stop identifying with egoism, breaks away from it, and builds a screen.
The plagues disconnect us from our desire, and we get a chance to look at it from aside. In fact, a person naturally withdraws from what makes him suffer. But before the Egyptian plagues arrive, he doesn’t yet feel that his desire and he himself are not the same thing.
It is not just about the troubles being implied. It is written: “Come to Pharaoh.” The Creator appears next to you and says: “Side with Me rather than with your desire, and together we will go to Pharaoh.” You step out of your desire and rise above it, and this is what the exodus from Egypt is all about: time after time, plague after plague, until all ten Sefirot have been worked out.
I can’t break away from egoism until I realize that it is evil. Only then can I start breaking free from its embrace and more clearly see how alien, evil, and opposite it is to me. And I finally come to a complete darkness, the darkness of Egypt.
Desire no longer appeals to me. How do I live now? I have turned myself off, renounced everything I used to be and lived by, all qualities, ideas, and desires. Rising up, I look at it all and don’t understand what I should do now. This is the threshold of breaking free, fleeing from Egypt in the night.
After this, we acquire the power of the Torah and begin consistently working with the lights, correcting the desire. And then, into our intention, we receive the Light of Hochma (Wisdom), clothed in the Light of Hassadim (Mercy). In other words, we enter the land of Israel.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/24/10, “Perfection in Life”