Michael Laitman, On Quora: “Who were the mixed multitude in Exodus 12:38?“
We can divide a nation—inside and outside of a person—into three parts. Those who aspire for the Creator are called “Israel (Yashar-Kel).” Those called “Egyptians” have no interest in spirituality, and instead deal with their corporeal lives. The mixed multitude are those who, on one hand, fear the Creator, but on the other hand, try to use their connection with the Creator selfishly.
Most people believe in the Creator or some higher force. There are several methods and teachings that express the person’s desire for the Creator. Even atheists have an inner point that aspires for connection with the Creator, and it defines their innermost reasoning for existence.
People are divided into two types. One defines those connected to religions and other faith methods who use their connection with the Creator in order to gain confidence and success in this life. The other defines those who want to discover their connection with the Creator in this life. They demand the Creator’s revelation, and wish to discover Him in themselves. They want to reveal an additional layer of reality above the still, vegetative, animate and human levels, which we perceive through the five senses.
Our deepest spiritual aspiration can be fulfilled through the method of Kabbalah. It leads us to the sensation of the highest governing force in reality, which determines everything. The wisdom of Kabbalah can prepare us for such an attainment while we are alive in this world.
How, then, can people considered the mixed multitude fear the Creator—the quality of absolute love and bestowal—when their sole aspiration is to serve themselves?
We can use our connection to the Creator either selfishly or altruistically. A selfish connection to the Creator positions us as consumers toward the Creator. It makes us constantly demand self-aimed fulfillment as a result of such a connection. It is merely a continuation of our inherently selfish inclination toward life. While aiming at the Creator selfishly, we accept that there is an all-encompassing force in reality that we fear, but we consciously demand a reward for such an acknowledgment. We then hope that we will be rewarded either in this life, and/or in the so-called afterlife. Such a selfish relationship with the Creator is called “mixed multitude.”
The Egyptians (in the Torah) simply want a good life with or without connection to the Creator. Such is the simple consumer attitude we observe in this world. They might observe certain commandments and certain actions, but not in order to become completely altruistic, i.e. to realize the principle commandment of “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The mixed multitude are egoistic desires that reject the exodus from Egypt, i.e., to exit the selfish ego and live a life of love, bestowal and positive connection to others. They cannot cross the Red Sea, and they want to return to Egypt. They do whatever they can in order to stop those who want to escape from slavery in Egypt, i.e., those controlled by the ego. They live in parallel with those who strive toward becoming as altruistic and loving as the Creator.
Those on the path of becoming altruistic and loving as the Creator need to encounter those desires called “mixed multitude” on the way, because these desires ultimately help us distinguish our true desire for connection with the Creator from others: that we wish for no self-aimed reward, but that all the contentment and goodness will be for the sake of the Creator.
In every person on every spiritual degree, a wide spectrum of desires appears. We can learn how to use these desires and sort them out with the help of Kabbalistic sources, i.e., to sort out the qualities of Malchut (reception) and Bina (bestowal), and elevate the value of the bestowal qualities over those of reception. This is done by engaging in a spiritually-supportive environment, where we aim to connect positively to one another in order to become as altruistic and loving as the Creator.
Based on a talk with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Michael Sanilevich, “Spiritual States: Mixed Multitude” 4/1/21
Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.