Question: Do all our intentions go straight into Pharaoh’s mouth, feeding him?
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, there is no “Pharaoh” without “Israel,” meaning the strive toward the Creator within man who works in order to unify with the others and come to bestowal. Thus, in the degree of his aspiration toward bestowal, a person builds Pharaoh, cultivates his desires (Kelim) within, from which he later flees and which he afterward corrects, getting rewarded thereby.
The entire work in Egypt lies in arranging Pharaoh and making him great, powerful, and wealthy, meaning in growing our ego from the tiny point of our natural egoism to the Creator’s status. After all, what does this whole egoism give us? It gives us the desires for food, sex, money, fame, and knowledge, a tiny ego of our world, a corporeal ego, which has nothing to do with spirituality. This earthly ego doesn’t even require correction.
Beginning to work on our unification, we discover resentment, alienation, indifference to our oneness. Essentially, this is the revelation of evil, but only if a person sees it as such. After all, he can say that he can’t unite with the others and that this work isn’t for him, before he even starts it. And some do start but get weakened, fall, and “die in the land of Egypt.”
But there are those who do bear it, thanks to the understanding that there is no option. They keep at it, over and over again, although they see that they continue to lose. And try as they might to unite with the friends, strengthen the group, regardless of their efforts, they see that nothing works. On the contrary, they experience a desire to criticize the friends and remove them from their sight all together. And once more, they overcome this flash of egoism.
Thus, time after time, all that a person earned, all his efforts are consumed by his ego, Pharaoh, which grows and rejoices. A person himself builds all these properties within, but through his own efforts. Afterwards, he arrives at the state when he can’t stand his ego any longer. And that is when he receives all Pharaoh’s vessels (Kelim), desires.
In other words, Egyptian exile starts solely with the person’s work toward unification with the friends. In fact, what does Israel merit after they flee from Egypt, when the Creator frees them from it? They merit unification at Mount Sinai (the mountain of hatred), all as “one man with one heart,” if only for an instant, until they sculpt the “golden calf” and fall yet again. But those downfalls are of a different nature now, into the gold that they carried out of Egypt, the “Egyptian vessels” they took with them, in order to retrieve them from it and reform.
But still, what did they want during all those years of exile? They wished to create oneness between them that they finally reached at Mount Sinai. And without these moment to moment efforts to withstand Mount Sinai, the “400 years of Egyptian exile” will not have passed for you.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/21/2011, The Book of Zohar