Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot” Item 19: The angel of death comes with a drawn sword with a drop of poison at its tip; the person opens his mouth, he throws the drop inside, and he dies.
The angel of death is our ego that cuts us off and distances us from spirituality all the time. And obviously, it does so according to that method, according to that general plan by which we must advance. It has to grow in order to justify its name, the angel of death.
We see that, in our day, a global crisis has been revealed. Humanity is gradually coming to understand that the problem is not in bad economy or finances, not in the broken family, but rather in human nature itself. This means that we will not escape the crisis through a simple change of the external system. Ultimately, we reach an understanding that the angel of death lives within us and is killing us. We must kill him ourselves before he kills us. Time after time, he intentionally cuts us off from the good life more and more so that we will feel that we have to kill him.
The sword of the angel of death is the influence of the Sitra Achra, called “Herev” because of the separation that grows according to the measure of reception, and the separation destroys him.
A person is not prepared to refrain from using his ego. We see people continue to behave egoistically even though they know that they are harming themselves. However, they are compelled to use their desire to receive, and finally: One is compelled to open one’s mouth, since one must receive the abundance for sustenance and persistence from her hands.
So, we are killing ourselves from generation to generation, returning to this world again and again with an even greater desire for pleasure and again, swallowing that deadly drop”: In the end, the bitter drop at the tip of the sword reaches him, and this completes the separation to the last spark of his breath of life.
People must finally understand that using the desire to receive kills them. No matter how much we burn with new hope of exploiting it, looking for different forms, and trying to overcome it, in spite of all this, we understand that our nature is compelling us to kill ourselves.
The angel of death kills itself by showing us what is causing us to die. It arouses us to fight against it. This is reminiscent of the story of the Egyptian exile. At first, it seemed that Pharaoh was good! With seven years of plenty, absolute abundance, it seemed that we had succeeded in controlling the angel of death and that was on our side.
However, in the end, we began to feel the seven years of famine. This was no longer the same Pharaoh. The angel that led us through life suddenly became cruel. We used to think that all of life is in front of us: With all the opportunities of the “American dream,” we would continue to progress and get more and more from life. It seemed to us that the entire world opened before us for our benefit.
Suddenly, we discovered that we are locked within this world. Every day becomes darker and darker, cramped and horrible, threatening to kill us and, at the end of the matter, we realize that the problem is not in the world. Rather, it is in us, in the egoistic nature that is found within us and inspires us to life, in our angel, meaning our internal power.
So, it essentially is fulfilling its role, like Pharaoh who brought the children of Israel closer to the Creator. This is that angel that, through opposition, carries out its faithful work. An angel is a force of nature that has no choice, a part of the overall program that operates until we finally feel that we have no choice and must flee from it.
From the Men’s Convention “The Next Step” 4/26/13, Lesson 1