The Hidden King and His Kingdom
Rabbi David Katz
Parashas Vaeira can quite simply be the Torah's formal introduction to kings and non-kings. In some ways this can appear as an overt operation, while some implications can be extremely subtle; yet with the careful eye, they are all here. Whether we are to discuss Pharaoh, Moshiach [and who he is], Egypt, Moses, or the Kabbalistic slant in this domain, the evil kingdom is quite clear in the passages that lay before us, while the secrets of the eventual ultimate redemption and her king is one of the truly most blessed aspects in the whole Torah – the truth of the final Moshiach – Moshiach son of David. Let's examine six distinct aspects of the Kingdom in (1) Hashem and His name, (2) Egypt, (3) Pharaoh, (4) Moses, (5) Ger Tzedek, (6) Messiah.
"My Name Hashem"
Perhaps the most obvious King in our Parasha is The Creator Himself. Yet it still must be stated, for all too often we tend to stare at the trees while losing site of the forest! This is and shall always remain Hashem's dynamic opening moves that will eventually be realized as an eternal bombardment. Hashem was always working His vision into our hearts, and now has come the time to fashion the Nation of Israel in an absolutely revealed way, one that will see Him as head of this new Nation, one containing Jews and Gerim. As much as this week's headlines detail Hashem and Israel-proper, the rest of the Torah, starting next week [and from where we left off in Bereishit] will intertwine the Children of Israel who stood at Sinai, alongside in countless ways with the Gerim, who are also inherently bound by a Sinai in a sublime way. Suffice it to say, Hashem has made his formal introduction with His essential name, and the buildup will culminate with a redemption [that leaves His distinct fingerprints all over it] and Sinai revelation. For the rest of time, no idolatry will be able to stand before Sinai and Moses as the Prophet of God; all others fall short, and with proper guidance in the nature of this redemption that God orchestrates, the Path of the Ger truly does represent Sinai and redemption, for their entire tradition rightfully so begins right at the foot of Sinai.
Egypt was the empire of its day, and history teaches that it worked in tandem with the Land of Canaan [the future "Holy Land"]. This is "Kingdom" [lit.] / Malchut – "Rulership" [practical usage] at its best, and serves as the paradigm for every exile – redemption scenario. At this point in the narrative, we understand Egypt's roots through Bereishit, and onwards into Shemot, we see that Joseph's enactments of circumcision was now a [problematic] custom for the locals, along with ritual bathing for the women; this is a nice way of saying, that the future Jews were successful in the early efforts of "Making Gerim." Out of this scenario, a slew of issues will arise, such as Erev Rav [a mixed assembly of future Jews, Gerim, and enemies to God], this served as the basis of identity [through Batya – daughter of Pharaoh] for Moses, and as a symbol of the World in every empire, culminating with a similar setting towards the End of Days. Some of the most potent prophesies that speak about sure signs of Redemption involve the falling of Egypt. One need not look too far in today's settings to see a possible Divine effort in fulfilling this symbol. To reiterate in simple terms, "we all have an Egypt to fall into, and then flee from."
Pharaoh is a character that changes shape practically every time we see "him" – from Abraham and Isaac, through Joseph, and finally at the present Exodus. Thus to focus on the most essential attributes of Pharaoh would be to look upon him as we see him in our Parasha. Pharaoh's name in Hebrew can be split into the two words "Peh – Rah" or, Mouth of Evil. In Kabbalistic literature Malchut / Rulership is depicted as the Divine Mouth, as illustrated by the two most publicized kings in Torah History – Moses and David. The Zohar's depiction of Pharaoh is one of a perversion of the Rulership in God's image, even as an anti-messiah. If the Messiah extends his head upwards towards God, Pharaoh claims to be God incarnate. If Joseph [a Messiah type figure, i.e. Messiah son of Joseph] represents the river that flows from Eden [kabbalistically], one need not think too far back to Pharaoh's claims to stand on the river; this is the setting of which Moses is told to happen upon Pharaoh in the morning, as Moses is commanded to talk to Pharaoh. It is Pharaoh that goes against God, wishes to enslave the Nation of Israel / withhold the Gerim, and he represents the power of perversion of Rulership – a distortion of what redemption is supposed to look like. A great mystery can be said of Pharaoh, for at the Exodus he did not die, and for every generation that delivers a Moses in scholarship, the power of Pharaoh still manifests to attempt to block the will and vision of heaven [this is synonymous with Erev Rav and their leader].
Moses the eventual first King of Israel is a sublime example of Rulership. Yet as we focus from Hashem, and onwards into the evil sectors of Rulership – those that oppose Hashem as King, we come upon Moses as he is at the time of redemption. The Zohar illustrates that Moses' mouth is not totally operative [as evidenced by his "uncircumcised lips"; the verse 6:12 hints through beginning and end letters with a spelling of the words, "Circumcision", "and bounty", and "crying out"] and explains that his mouth is still in exile - EXCEPT FOR AT SINAI. Moses has almost the whole package of redemption, even the Shechinah unites with his mouth, however there is still an aspect missing from this redemption and Moses, and that are his mouth and its Rulership that will manifest in the End of Days through Messiah. King David in psalms expresses this final level of Rulership [such that David is the promised Messiah] within the Mouth, and it is found in the sanctification within one's own mind. He says that all day man makes vows in the depths of his own mind, should he bring to light that higher voice, all of God's enemies will cease to exist. Ironically Moses could hear the voice of God, yet ironically his own voice went unrecognized…"From the mouth of God I heard two, will become the salvation of Sinai.
The Ger might be the most invisible character to our Parasha on a revealed level; however the Zohar again illustrates that the manner of the redemption very much so involves the Ger on an ultra-dynamic scale. The Ger Tzedek [here explained explicitly NOT as a convert, but as a proper Ger] is involved at removing stern judgments on the Creation, by working alongside Israel, and thus perforce can't be a Jew in this sense [although at times a Ger Tzedek can be referred to a full convert]. The task of the Ger is to return to his root of soul, and refine his character. The Ger exists in a world of Derech Eretz [good character traits] and thus has a natural tendency to gravitate towards his good inclination and to avoid any negative animalistic pull [Which every human being obviously has; the nature of Jews and Gerim are their functions of how to deal with good and bad. In their equality, we can look at this in terms of right and left, male and female], or his evil inclination- to accentuate his good. The Ger Tzedek is unique [and thus a proper Chasid by definition – going beyond the letter of the law; pursuing more than "7"] and wishes to purify and refine the areas of his soul that he is not naturally expected to, and by doing so he confronts his natural evil, and as he succeeds, this removes judgments from Mankind. The Jewish people in general are involved with this task, and thus a Jewish "Chasid" [in the literal sense] should then be one who involves himself with the work of the Ger [non-Chasid], or more explicitly, involving himself with the Noahide Laws. In the end, both the Jews and Gerim will work both sides together, and this will constitute a repair of the Rulership, and as King David prophesies, will bring in Redemption.
…And finally the Messiah's Rulership, otherwise known as Pinchas, he who came of the "Daughters of Putiel." Pinchas the son of Elazer, came of the mysterious Daughters of Putiel, to which the Midrash, Talmud, and Kabbalah, have all identified as a double entendre representing Joseph and Jethro. To make this easier to understand on the Joseph side, we need to recall that Jacob told Joseph "Ephraim and Menasha are to Jacob" but any other progeny afterwards would belong to Joseph himself. This fact coupled with Elazar's Daughter of Putiel, reveals that likely Pinchas descended from one of Joseph's future daughters! That would make her a prototype Ger Tzedek [Messianic type] of woman. This is not foreign to Pinchas, for he married a daughter of Rachav [and Joshua – he who personifies Moshiach ben Joseph] the Ger Tzedek! The Messiah lineage seems to travel alongside the Ger Tzedek and their women, to which the Torah says, "Daughter of Putiel" rather than daughter in the singular. Jethro is the other reference to Putiel [for this is a hint of his idolatrous days, as opposed to the Joseph hint that he defeated his evil inclination – another Ger Tzedek hint as we listed above], and Jethro is likened to a father of Ger Tzedek women! Just as his daughter married Moses and was an exemplary Ger Tzedek woman, and the Midrash calls Moses' Batyah her twin sister [in concept, relating to Jethro as the consummate Ger Tzedek], we see that the Davidic line flourishes with these women, from Tamar, to Ruth, and onwards until Moshiach is revealed and performs the redemption of the Ger. It should be noted that Pinchas is said to have received both roles of the Moshiach sons of Joseph and David, through the Brit Shalom [with the slaying of Zimri and Cozbi] – which was his own performance of the Redemption of the Ger, in keeping it in sanctity. Pinchas and the Priesthood became bonded to the Ger Tzedek woman through the enigmatic mitzvah known as the Yafa Toar – captured women of war, of which Pinchas is on record of having been present at the time of the command. For support, our Parasha has the same Gematria as Pinchas  and this is our first introduction to his character.
We live in a World that has never beheld true Rulership, a King, or in other words God revealed on Earth. The six listed archetypes of Kingdom listed in the Parasha [there are sure to be more, the more one delves within the micro, and perhaps can show there are less by illuminating the macro] show a range of the issues that manifest in every society at every time. We all know a Pharaoh in our Egypt, as we wish for God and a Messiah to end our problems, as we study every year about Moses while ignoring the Righteous Ger as if he does not exist. The irony is, every year we read about Pinchas, and overlook his future commitment in ushering in the redemption; whether it is through his soul, or the announcement that we have arrived through God's messenger Elijah, to whom we say, "Pinchas is Elijah." Parashas Vaeira is special, for it contains all of the necessary ingredients for a proper redemption; if we just knew that it is the Ger who lurks behind every type of Rulership, perhaps the shofar blast would erupt suddenly in our day. Only we do know, but if a tree falls in a forest with nobody there to listen, did it make a noise? [Hint; a word to the wise is sufficient]
Audio Class on Parasha Tuesday 11 P.M.
Wed 11 P.M. - We are introducing a new series along side the "Thinking Shabbos" classes;
Now launching "The Tehillim In-Depth - Universal Torah Series!"
Look for announcements each week for updates on schedule!
***Please Note Class Times and Their Amendments!
I have an erratic schedule with house guests until February; Please God February will arrive soon :)