Shamati #59, “About the Rod and the Serpent”: “And Moses answered and said: ‘But, behold, they will not believe me,’” etc. “And the Lord said unto him: ‘What is that in thy hand?’ And he said: ‘A rod.’ And He said: ‘Cast it on the ground…’ and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it” (Exodus 4).
We must understand that there are not more than two degrees, either Kedusha (Sanctity) or Sitra Achra (Other Side). There is no intermediary state, but the same rod itself becomes a serpent, if thrown to the ground.
…This is the meaning of the question, “What is that in thy hand?” A hand means attainment, from the words, “and if a hand attains.” A rod (Mateh in Hebrew) means that all one’s attainments are built on the discernment of inferior importance [Mata in Hebrew], which is faith above reason. This is because faith is regarded as having inferior importance, and as lowness….
There is one very fine discernment that is made constantly and that a person has to make in order advance by the path of the soul’s correction. It is called “the rod and the serpent.” You can check yourself this way: If I have a strong desire to do something and it’s clear that it is for my own sake, and I realize that this is how my egoism is expressed, which is blazing inside of me, then the same moment I understand this, I have to try to rise above this.
Even though I have a big inner desire to judge my friend in order to decide whether I should come closer to him or move farther away, yet above all of this I have to make an effort and raise my entire hatred, repulsion, disappointment and expectations of others—the friends, the teacher, and the Creator, and advance by faith above reason.
I must instead understand that precisely the conditions that I have been given are the “rod” that I have to pick up and take into my hands. Then it will become a symbol of my faith and will help me to advance.
However, if I throw the rod on the ground according to my desire (“earth” – Aretz, is “desire” – Ratzon), then it turns into a serpent.
I have to make this discernment in order to feel these two points inside of me, which are constantly present and contradict one another. My ego is blazing and wants to judge everyone—the friends, the teacher, and the Creator. And its complaints and anger are completely justified. It is sincerely indignant inside against all of them. But above this, I work on loving them, justifying them, and giving to them from my entire open heart by faith above reason.
When I feel these two points together, that means I correctly balance myself in my current state. These points are what make up my path toward the goal of creation.
On this path I will see that I am continuously overtaken by new calculations and criticism, new disagreements between myself and the environment, and this happens in order to make me think once again that I am right and they are wrong. This work begins right away, as soon as the group gets organized.
Either people will advance by faith above reason, or they will drown in these disagreements and will walk together with the snake, throwing their rod onto the ground, meaning, instead of faith above knowledge on the path they will go by faith inside knowledge or below it. Then the only thing left to do will be to wait for them to wake up, and that might take a very long amount of time—in fact, no one knows when that might happen.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/13/11, Shamati
It’s A Brave Profession Catching Snakes
Turning A Snake Into A Staff
The Irreconcilable Quarrel Between The Creator And The Pharaoh In Me