Baal HaSulam, Shamati #159 “And It Came to Pass in the Course of Those Many Days”: The thing is that, indeed, they were very fond of the work in Egypt. This is the meaning of “But mingled themselves with the nations, and learned their works.”
It means that if Israel are under the dominion of a certain nation, that nation controls them and they cannot retire from their dominion. Thus, they tasted sufficient flavor in that work and could not be redeemed.
At first a person is in his desire to enjoy and sees that he works for the sake of his ego. He learns and acquires knowledge and feels that he is above others since he understands and feels more than them.
The wisdom of Kabbalah opens before him the whole essence of life in this world and he looks down with contempt at all the other people who lie around on this planet and don’t understand anything. He feels that he is higher, more important and superior to them and his ego is filled with pride.
He receives explanations about good and evil and turns everything in his favor in order to calm himself. Now he has a tempting goal. He sees the wisdom of Kabbalah as his redemption and the answer to all the troubles since he arrived to this wisdom quite depressed having been beaten by life. Here he suddenly finds all the answers and comfort. He is glad that he isn’t guilty of all the evil he has done and expects things to be better than in the past. In short, he is very satisfied.
This is intentional, just like with small children who receive from the Creator energy to run around, to learn everything, and not to sit still and be lazy so that they can quickly learn about the world and develop. The same thing happens to a person when he begins to study, as it is written: “The thing is that, indeed, they were very fond of the work in Egypt, this is the meaning of ‘But mingled themselves with the nations, and learned their works.'”
The nations of the world are the states in which only the desire to enjoy rules, and Israel under the domination of Egypt is a state in which the desire to bestow that awakens in me works for the benefit of the egoistic desire. It turns out that I can be more successful than others. I calm myself; I understand and feel more as if I am getting more opportunities and therefore feel that I am better.
These are the onions, the garlic, and the squash that we ate in Egypt. At this initial state I can turn all the evil that is revealed for the benefit of my ego. This means that I am Pharaoh’s slave. Everything serves the egoistic desire, even the small desire to bestow in me that I have thanks to the study and my connection with the group.
This is how I use this method up to a certain point until there is suddenly a change in my feeling. This is called: “and the king of Egypt [who was good to me] died.” Then it is as if a new domination emerges. I don’t feel that I am so successful anymore and that this business is so simple. I cannot use the wisdom of Kabbalah to improve my ordinary, corporeal egoistic life anymore.
Here I begin to feel my slavery. The desire remains the same desire, the same king, but it is dead for me! The new phase begins: “and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage” What are we working for if it isn’t for our sake? And what will become of us?
We connected with the hope to discover the upper force because we thought that it is good for our ego, but now we suddenly discover that it isn’t the good we were waiting for and not the connection we thought it would be. We begin to understand the good and the connection in their real sense, which means that we are aware that the fruit will not be revealed in the desire to enjoy but only in the desire to bestow.
We still don’t understand the meaning of receiving a payment in the desire to bestow, but it will be revealed to us. We hope to feel good, but what is good in bestowal? We have to change our perception with regard to the coming change.
This is the meaning of “the king of Egypt died,” that all the dominations of the king of Egypt—he gave them food and livelihood—had died. This is why they had room for prayer. And they were immediately salvaged. And then when they walked in the desert and came to a state of Katnut (smallness), they craved the servitude that they had had prior to the death of the king of Egypt. Which means that they left the domination of Pharaoh.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/30/14, Shamati #159