Baal HaSulam, Shamati #86, “And They Built Store – Cities”: There is yet another saying in The Zohar, that the serpent bows its head and strikes with its tail. This means that sometimes it lets one take upon himself the burden of faith above reason, which is the bowing of the head, but it strikes with the tail.
At first, the ego allows a person to advance since the Sitra Achra (other side) needs Light. If a person doesn’t advance, he will not receive anything. Therefore, the evil inclination operates in a devious manner and seems to free a person, allowing him to run ahead in order to attain success, to understand and to feel more.
Then, the ego grabs the person and swallows him again. Then it releases him in order to swallow him once more. This is how the ego plays with us like a cat with a mouse.
This is the meaning of Pharaoh bringing them near. It is explained that he deliberately brought Israel to repentance, so as to afterwards take everything from them into his own authority. This is why the Ari wrote that Pharaoh sucked all the abundance that came down to the lower ones. He sucked from the Oref and from the throat, which is considered the head of the body, meaning it would take everything in its vessels of reception.
The main thing is not to despair. After all, a person sees that he doesn’t attain anything despite his great yearning for connection, understanding, feeling and working in dissemination, and doing everything he was required to. Suddenly, he falls into the ego again and even to a worse state than before.
This reoccurs many times in the duration of 400 years. The main thing here is the support of the group, taking on a regular duties he ties himself tightly. It is better if the group notices his work so that if he falls, the group immediately pays attention to that and begins to take care of him.
A person works like a piston: He advances, yearning to reach bestowal, and wants to do anything in order to attain that, but then—boom—everything turns the other way around, and he falls into egoism; the snake strikes with his tail and swallows all the results. Then, a person runs forward once again, full of strength and the spirit of life hoping to feel and to attain everything, and, once again, falls powerlessly, despairing that the desire to enjoy took everything.
A person must go through many such states, and no one knows when they are going to end. After all, the darkness of Egypt awaits us at the end. First, we advance from the seven years of satiety to the seven years of hunger and then to the plagues of Egypt, after which comes pitch darkness. In the darkness, we suddenly and hurriedly come out of Egypt.
We cannot know what is about to happen a moment before the exodus at midnight. Therefore, we must grow stronger. Everything is based on one simple principle: “…that he swallowed riches, and then he vomits them up again…” The desire to enjoy swallows the attributes of bestowal that a person wants to reach time after time. The ego takes all that and pulls a person inward.
Eventually, the ego is suffocated and cannot contain everything that it has swallowed. After all, the desire to bestow reaches a critical point in the desire to enjoy, and then there is an explosion, and a person is freed of the domination of the ego.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/8/14, Shamati #86