The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
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Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, Yerushalayim 5764
In this Parsha, it tells the story of seven out of the ten plagues, which the Egyptians received. In order to understand their meaning, let us explain according to the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim, of blessed memory, in his work “Keli Yakar” (The Precious Vessel).
Paroh heretically denied three things. First, he denied the existence of Hashem, as is written that Paroh said, “I do not know Hashem.” Corresponding to this came the first three plagues. The plague of blood was that the river turned into blood. The Egyptians had turned the river into their god. Therefore, it says by this plague, “In this you will know that I am Hashem.”
Likewise, by the frogs, it is written in Chazal that the frogs willingly gave up their lives for the sanctification of Hashem, as they went into the Egyptian ovens. Chananya, Mishael, and Azaryah learned from the frogs, that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sanctification of Hashem. This was to show the existence of Hashem. By the plague of lice it is written that even the sorcerers said it was the hand of G-d.
The second denial of Paroh was that even if you say that Hashem exists, He is beyond all, and does not oversee the lowly creatures. Moreover, there is no difference between the wicked and the righteous. Upon this came the plagues of wild animals, pestilence and boils. By the wild animals it is written that Hakadosh Baruch Hu separated the land of Goshen, to show that there is Divine Providence (on all particular things) and that everything is not just mixed together. In this plague it says, “In order that you should know that I am Hashem, in the midst of the land.” Likewise, with pestilence it is written that Hashem separated between Israel’s cattle and the Egyptian cattle. So too with the boils, the plague first came upon the sorcerers, and afterwards on the rest of the Egyptians, to show that there is a control over reward and punishment, and a difference between the righteous and the wicked.
Paroh’s third denial was with regard to the ability of Hashem to change nature. In the (final) four plagues it is written, “For is there is no one like Me in all of the land.” This means to say that there is no other (force) besides Him, and that there is no power in the astrological signs or stars. The proof is that during the plague of hail, the Egyptians could not see the sun. Also, by the plague of locust it is written, “And the locust covered all of the visibility of the land, and the land was dark.” By the plague of darkness, (the sun was) certainly (covered.) (Furthermore), the plague of the firstborn corresponded to the sign of Aries, which is the firstborn of all of the astrological signs. Thereby, Hashem showed Paroh that, “There is no one like Me in all of the land,” (that I am all-capable), even over the laws of nature.
To summarize, if one goes in the straight path, in Torah, and faith, it is possible to reach this awareness (of Hashem) without the need for plagues or suffering. Then one doubly benefits, with a happy (physical) life, and also a spiritual life that fills the soul with joy, without suffering, G-d forbid. May it be His Will that we all should merit this.