The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
Kabbalah News/Essays Search Our Site Kabbalah Audio Files Contact Us Home
Parshas Vayechi 5764
Rabbi Avraham Brandwein of Yerushalayim
“And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years.” The Holy Zohar says that until now, Yaakov had lived in suffering. Therefore, it did not say Yaakov “lived”, until after he went down to Egypt. Then, he began to “live”. Also, (the Torah describes the life by the) “17 years”. 17 is the Gematria (numerical value) of “Tov” (Good).
This is very wondrous, that specifically in the land of “Egypt”, there he “lived good” and not in the land of Israel!
But first we need to understand the concept of the Exile to Mitzrayim (Egypt).
According to what the Arizal wrote, every Exile has a purpose, which is to gather the Holy Sparks, which fell amongst the Nations of the World. By Israel being dispersed amongst them, afterwards, the Sparks are elevated and returned to Holiness.
It is well known that Chochmah (Wisdom) is the “attribute”, which descended to Egypt. As it is written, “Cham, the son of Noach, was the father of Mitzrayim (Egypt). Cham (Ches Mem) is the opposite letters of Moach (Mem Ches, brains, wisdom). The reason is as follows. When Chochmah is in the “head”, i.e. when one uses wisdom for positive things and thereby emulates the Divine Wisdom, then it illuminates as it should, and brings benefit to the world, as it is written, “Like good oil on the head,” since oil represents Chochmah. But if, Heaven forbid, one uses Chochmah for negative purposes, for example, to create weapons, whose purpose is to destroy, then the Moach converts into Cham, which brings inflammation, anger and war. Therefore, the son of Cham is Egypt, which represents the descent of Chochmah into the narrowness of the body, (since Mitzrayim literally means narrowness).
This was the goal of the descent of the Nation of Israel to Egypt, to gather the Holy Sparks of Chochmah and to elevate them to Holiness. This is what is written in the Parsha that the Bnei Yisroel requested from the Egyptians silver and gold vessels, and went out from Egypt with great possessions. The inner meaning is that they brought out with them the vessels of the Light of Chochmah back to Holiness, and thereby repaired the sin of Adam Harishon (Adam).
According to this it is understood why it is written that Yaakov “lived in Egypt”. It is well known that the image of Yaakov was like the image of Adam Harishon. The light of Chochmah is called Chaya (the Living Force), as the verse says, “Chochmah gives life to its master.” Consequently, it says that Yaakov “lived” in “Egypt”, for there he could elevate the light of Chochmah, which had fallen there. This is what is written, “17 years” he lived in Egypt, which is the Gematria of Tov (Good), since the light of Chochmah is called Tov, as was mentioned before, “Like good oil …,” when one uses it for positive things. It is also written, “And Elokim saw that the light was good.”